About Food Scraps Recycling

Metro Vancouver and member municipalities encourage food scraps recycling because it's the right thing to do, it takes waste out of our landfills, it reduces our methane contributions, and it creates compost and bioenergy.

Metro Vancouver has developed this two minute video to explain the introduction of the food scraps recycling rules. Available in English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, PunjabiTagalog and Korean.

 

This short brochure is a resource developed for businesses. It prints 3 across and is available in English, French, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi and Tagalog.

Currently local municipalities collect food scraps from about 95% of the region's single family homes. Many businesses, apartments and condos are establishing food scraps recycling either through their city, waste hauler, or an occupant-driven initiative.

Why food scraps in garbage are a problem

When food and other organic materials end up in the garbage they:

  • Create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that adds to global warming. In the landfill, buried under layers of waste and without access to oxygen, food can't decompose properly.
  • Use up a lot of precious landfill space. Space is limited, and creating more landfills is undesirable. Over 30% of what we send to the landfill in our region is compostable organics.
  • Make waste-to-energy processes less efficient because of their high moisture content. About a third of the region's waste is disposed in the waste-to-energy facility.

This video, developed by City of Calgary, tells a clear story about foods scraps in the landfill.

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What is banned

Food scraps need to be separated from regular garbage. This includes raw food, plate scrapings, leftovers, depackaged food, meat etc. Some food soiled paper such as pizza boxes or used table napkins can also be collected with your food scraps. Check with your hauler to ensure you are recycling all that you can.

Who’s involved

Initially this will mostly affect the large generators of food scraps (e.g. grocers and large restaurants) in the first year, and be phased in to affect eventually everyone across the Metro Vancouver region.

  • Commercial buildings (examples include grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, retail stores and shopping malls, offices)
  • Institutional and industrial buildings (examples include health care facilities and schools)
  • Single family houses and residential buildings

Start date and phasing in

Prior to January 1, 2015Many businesses, households and institutions recycle food scraps regularly. Metro Vancouver, your city, many property managers, business improvement areas and other business groups prepared for the ban in advance.
January 1 to June 30, 2015The Organics Disposal Ban is enforced through education. Loads of waste brought to a transfer station with over 25% food were identified, and the hauler of that load provided with information. All businesses and residential buildings were encouraged to plan and introduce food scraps recycling programs.
July 1 to December 31, 2015 Financial enforcement began July 1, 2015. Waste loads with more than 25% visible food are surcharged at 50% of the cost of disposal. (eg a $100 load will be charged $150) In general, this type of load is generated by a grocery or large restaurant that does not have an effective food scraps recycling program. All businesses and residential buildings are encouraged to introduce and improve food scraps recycling programs.
January 2016 onwardsThe amount of food scraps allowed in the garbage will be lowered over time. By now, most buildings should have food scraps recycling programs in place.

Enforcement

This disposal ban is enforced the same as the region's other disposal bans. Waste is inspected when it is delivered to a regional disposal facility. If a waste load contains excessive amounts of recyclable materials, the hauler pays a surcharge of 50% on the cost of disposal.

Questions?

The Recycling Council of BC staff can answer questions and provide contacts for commercial recycling services. Contact the Recycling Hotline at 604-REC-YCLE (604-732-9253).

Engagement and Input on the Organics Disposal Ban

The Organics Disposal Ban is an action in the region's Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan. During its development, extensive public engagement helped identify that removing organics from disposal is a highly desirable priority for this region.

Since 2011, Metro Vancouver has engaged restaurants, grocers, Business Improvement Areas, public health facilities, schools, property managers and small businesses to assess the challenges and opportunities for reducing and recycling food waste.

In 2014, Metro Vancouver engaged again on the Organics disposal ban, this time on the details of how such a rule would be put in place. A full report on the process and feedback is found here.