I am worried this will cost too much
Many communities and businesses in our region are already successfully recycling organics. In addition to our own region, organics disposal bans exist in other places around the world. Costs of those programs are manageable. Managing waste protects the environment and is cost-effective. Examples include Ireland, Massachusetts, and Portland, Oregon, Nanaimo and Halifax.
A price differential on the tipping fee encourages separating organics from regular garbage. This means the cost to tip a truckload of mixed garbage at a waste facility is higher than the cost of tipping a load of food scraps or other compostable material at an organics processing facility.
Costs or savings are determined by how effectively waste is managed at the source. Examples:
- Sorting waste by separating other recyclables from the waste stream. Dry cardboard for example has a value as a commodity.
- Reducing waste via ordering, storage, portion sizes
- Training staff on new waste priorities to ensure your waste reduction and recycling targets are met
You might look at the cost of throwing away food scraps this way. Food in your garbage has been paid for three times: 1st when purchased, 2nd when stored and prepared, and then 3rd when thrown away.
My restaurant uses disposable packaging. Should I be composting this?
A lot of food-soiled papers such as pizza boxes and paper napkins are compostable. Let your waste hauler know you intend to compost, and recycle, everything you can. Examples of compostable materials include some varieties of
- pizza boxes
- paper towels/napkins
- paper egg cartons
- food-soiled newspaper
- some waxed cardboard is accepted – check with your hauler
- Paper bags and paper liner bags used for collecting scraps
- uncoated paper plates/cups
- uncoated take-away food packaging
In 2013 and 2014 Metro Vancouver conducted significant consultations with the food service industry, and determined there is confusion around food soiled paper and foodware products as to which are, or are not, acceptable at all organics processing facilities in the region. Some products marketed compostable do not in fact compost in regional facilities. Others look very similar to compostable but may have hidden plastics or liners.
For this reason, though many products can be composted, they are not included in the disposal ban regulation.
I’ve found some plastic bags that are labelled compostable or biodegradable. Why can’t I use them?
In general, plastics, including those marked biodegradable, and similar items contaminate compost and reduce its value.
As a restaurant, you need to confirm with your hauler if you are allowed to use any plastic liners for your food scraps collection. There are exceptions for large volumes, where the liner is removed before the food scraps are processed.
What is Metro Vancouver doing to help make this initiative work?
Metro Vancouver is responsible for managing the waste generated in our region, including meeting the goals set in the Solid Waste Plan, which were derived from public input.
- Waste reduction and improved recycling are key goals.
- Removing organics from landfilling, and recovering nutrients is a priority.
We recognize this is a significant change for some businesses and have engaged and consulted on the disposal ban details, created a six month grace period where businesses will be informed of infractions and not fined, and phased in the ban enforcement to impact higher volume wastes earlier.
Metro Vancouver is able to influence removing food from the regions landfills by:
- setting the regulation at the disposal facilities
- supporting a price differential for green vs solid waste tipping fees to offer a cost advantage to composting over landfilling
- encourage private investment in processing facilities
- convening major organics generating sectors to look for collective, sector-wide ways to improve waste reduction and recycling
- producing tool kits, best practice guides, case studies and information
- encouraging consistent messages, images and recycling collection programs for end-users among cities and private businesses across the region, which improves recycling rates.
- creating mandatory space and access and other related bylaws for new buildings and major renovations
- assessing the waste produced region wide and continuously identify targets for reduction
- supporting Extended Producer Responsibility and other programs.