Zero Waste

47% of Vancouver’s Waste Still Organic Ahead of 2015 Ban

Article source from “Waste Management World” –


The results of a study into waste in Metro Vancouver in 2011 have been published, confirming that discarded food accounts for the largest percentage of the region’s municipal waste 2015 organics disposal ban looms.

The study, published by Metro Vancouver – a political body which comprises 22 municipalities, one electoral area, and one treaty First Nation – discarded food makes up some 39% of waste from single family homes and an even larger 39% from multi-family households.

Waste from commercial businesses – a category that includes supermarkets and restaurants – contained 21% wasted food, according to the study.

Metro Vancouver said that the regional district’s 2011 Waste Composition Study was a “garbage audit” of what’s inside the region’s waste.

As part of the study, truck loads of garbage were dumped on to the floor of a waste transfer station. Workers in safety suits cut into plastic garbage bags to see what’s inside.

They sorted, weighed and recorded all the different types of materials they found, categorising everything from a bag of potatoes to a plastic toy.

“This study reaffirms organics as our primary target in the Zero Waste Challenge,” said Metro Vancouver board chair, Greg Moore.

“Removing these valuable resources from the waste stream will go a long way toward achieving our goal of 70% waste diversion by 2015,” he explained.

The organics category includes compostable materials such as food scraps and yard trimmings from single and multi-family homes, plus clean wood from the construction sector.

In the latest study, this category accounted for 47% of the region’s waste, down slightly from 49% in 2010.

Organic disposal ban

The region’s Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan includes initiatives to get food and other organics out of the garbage, leading to a disposal ban on organics in 2015.

By the end of this year, Metro Vancouver said that 16 of its municipalities will have mixed organics collection in place for single-family homes.

Metro Vancouver also said that it is consulting with municipalities and other stakeholders – including supermarket chains and other food-related businesses – on how the ban will be implemented.

The regional district continues to work with facility operators and service providers to ensure systems and facilities are in place to support organics disposal bans.

The intent is provide clear deadlines and regulations for different sectors, well ahead of 2015, so the private sector can develop new facilities and services, to take advantage of business opportunities to get food out of the garbage, according to Metro Vancouver.

“We are most interested to see what effect all these initiatives will have on the results of subsequent waste composition studies,” said Zero Waste committee chair Malcolm Brodie.

“In the meantime, don’t wait for organics collection service,” he added. “Backyard composting is a great way to reduce waste and negative environmental impacts.”

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