As of January 2015, food waste is banned from the garbage in the 21 cities that make up the Metro Vancouver region. The ban applies to everyone, including all businesses, schools, households, institutions and apartments.
Metro Vancouver started planning for the food waste ban in 2011 when the ban was identified as a key strategy to help the region reach its goal of 80% diversion by 2020.
Vancouver has banned more than a dozen materials from the landfill, including clean wood, electronics, mattresses, common recyclable paper and containers (cardboard, newspaper, aluminum cans, etc.), yard trimmings, appliances and paint.
Acceptable items include:
The program does NOT allow compostable or biodegradable bags, any other types of plastic containers or packaging, or animal waste.
About 95% of the region’s single-family homes had curbside food scrap collection before the ban went into place. In most cities, recycling and compost are each collected weekly from households; trash is collected every other week.
Multi-family properties are encouraged to add composting services, either by contracting with the local municipality or by hiring a private hauler.
As part of the ban, all properties are required to have a plan for managing food waste. This includes using a municipal Green Cart service, contracting with a private hauler for food waste collection, or using a composting or anaerobic digestion system.
The city requires businesses to have a food waste diversion plan as part of the requirements for a business license.
Metro Vancouver has more than a dozen materials banned from disposal. Enforcement is conducted at the transfer stations and disposal facilities where loads are inspected for banned materials.
The first six months of the ban were focused on education and raising awareness with no fines issued. After the grace period, any hauler dumping garbage that contained more than 25% visible food scraps is charged at a 50% higher rate (i.e. $150 for the load instead of $100). This threshold level is meant to single-out loads from grocery stores or large restaurants rather than from residential homes.
In 2016 and 2017, the city plans to reduce the amount of food waste allowed in the trash down from 25% to 5%.
There is no immediate enforcement of the ban at residences or businesses. The region is focused first on providing composting collection services at every home and business.
Metro Vancouver has been preparing for the food waste ban since 2011. The region focused specifically on stakeholder meetings and outreach to businesses and multi-family properties.
The voluntary Food Scraps Drop Spot program had more than 48,000 locations where residents could drop off food waste before the ban took effect and collected more than 330,000 lbs. of food scraps for composting.
Educational materials including posters, brochures and signs, are available in seven languages.
More than 30% of the garbage in Vancouver could be composted. The city expects to keep 250,000 metric tons of materials out of the landfill every year through this program.