Compost City: Vancouver to Ban All Food From Trash

Photo credit: Alfred Hermida | Flickr

Photo credit: Alfred Hermida | Flickr

Vancouver’s trash is about to get a little greener.

City council has just approved a new composting policy that changes the way the city’s condo dwellers throw out their trash, as reported by the Vancouver Sun. Starting in January 2015, all compostable materials from privately-serviced residential buildings – not to mention restaurants, hotels and other commercial operations – have to be separated for trash collection.

Currently, food scraps recycling programs are already in place for single-family homes and city-serviced buildings.  Special green bins are the final resting place for everything from egg shells and banana peels to cooked foods, coffee filters and lawn clippings.  After pick-up, the scraps are taken to central facilities and composted into soil for use across the region.

The overall goal is to reduce the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills.  

Photo credit: Brent Granby | Flickr

Photo credit: Brent Granby | Flickr

Food scraps are a prime source of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. To curb emissions, provincial regulations are requiring landfills to cut methane gas production by 75 percent by 2016.  Household composting can have a significant impact: If every Vancouver resident recycled food scraps for a year, 5,500 trucks worth of waste would be diverted from landfills, according to the City of Vancouver website.

An estimated 152,000 Vancouver condo dwellers will be affected by the new composting requirement, according to an article by Jeff Lee in the Vancouver Sun.  They’ll be required to separate wet waste into buckets and then deposit that waste in a central collection area in the building.  Commercial waste haulers will then collect the scraps and transport them to composting areas.

Photo credit: Panphage | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Panphage | Wikimedia Commons

The multi-unit buildings and commercial and industrial producers affected by the new requirements together produce 70 percent of the city’s organic waste.  To encourage compliance, beginning in 2015 the city will began issuing fines if garbage loads contain too much wet waste.  Large producers of waste will be targeted first, while homeowners likely won’t face fines until 2017.

What do you think about the city’s new composting policy for condo dwellers? 

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11 Responses to Compost City: Vancouver to Ban All Food From Trash

  1. Hi there
    We have been sorting out all our rubbish for a few years here in Christchurch NZ and the 14,000 earthquakes we had from 2010 to 2012 did not stop us from doing it. Surely Vancouver can make it too :)

  2. Hi there

    We have been sorting out all our rubbish for a few years here in Christchurch NZ and the 14,000 earthquakes we had from 2010 to 2012 did not stop us from doing it. Surely Vancouver can make it too :)

  3. Kelly

    Being a strata counsel in Burnaby with the food scrapes program, I can tell you it’s a joke to enforce it at multi-family buildings.

    Fining is not the solution. They have to provide support by creating a more user friendly system.

    • master composter

      Strata Masters: Time to reconsider the old unsustainable gardening paradigm in condos: why not start grass-cycling and allow compost on site with double trench composting or bins for those that are willing to be educated and try it out. Gardening begins with taking care of the soil. You may be surprised that your grounds keeping budget holds out and as soil improves, the grounds lawns and beds look better. Allow time for education. Community gardens work and composting in that program or in your community is no different: it takes buy in and that begins with leadership based on forward thinking not on based on fear and unsustainable status quo. This composting program is not cutting edge technology it is an age old waste and soil management system that worked. It is time to go back to what worked for the soil and the ecosystem.

    • kt

      i say no to food compose to the land. we eat enough poisen in our vegetables already plus we already paying taxes for garbage each time you buy an item from any store. they can’t charge you again if they do we should start taking our garbage back to the stores or the mayors home.enough is enough no more poisening the land.

  4. rose

    We are in a 55 + condo complex and we already have trouble with many older owners following garbage rules. I don’t think we will be able to get compliance from all owners and it will be impossible to figure out who is not in compliance. It is a very good idea but impossible for multiple unit complexes. What would you like us to do? Have a person checking all bags before they put it into the garbage 24 hours per day?

  5. Elise

    Let us focus on what can be done not what cannot be done! Shifting thinking and shifting habits is what we need to be patient about and many parts of the world have done it with very successful results in creating new habits and new ways of life in LARGE complex dwellings too.

    Go Vancouver … let us take the lead again on this continent!

    • master composter

      This type of program has been in operation across Saskatchewan in villages and towns that are similar to the large condo complexes of the lower mainland. It takes time for people to buy in and educated practice to get it right. The Zero Waste Program has shown that communities can do this, it just takes initiative rather than negative fear mongering form leadership.

  6. James

    I live in a condo and thankfully I have a garberator I use instead of dealing with the hassle of sorting out food and bagging it. All of my garbage goes into the trash. And because there are 305 units in my building nobody will be caught.

  7. Lana

    Composting is awesome….it feeds back the land.
    Preventing the ocean from being filled with plastic garbage is THE most important thing to do…. PLASTIC DOES NOT decompose!
    We eat the food grown from the ocean and land… Have we forgotten?

  8. Mark

    There needs to be a more user-friendly, collection option.

    Keeping waste in biodegradable, maybe paper garbage bags and dropping to the bin in a bag would be better.

    opening the lid and facing with a swarm of flies and disgusting smell of waste should not be the only way.