Vancouver residents will soon have a new option to keep organic waste out of the landfill.
The City of Vancouver is set to launch a new food-scrap collection program tomorrow (April 21) during an event outside of City Hall.
Residents will now be able to add uncooked fruit, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, and egg shells to the curbside bins that previously were only used for yard trimmings.
In early 2011, the city plans to expand the list of acceptable materials and introduce weekly pickup to minimize odours from rotting waste. Once fully implemented, the expanded collection service is expected to bring in up to 16,000 kilograms of food-scrap waste each year.
Bob McLennan, a City of Vancouver engineer, told the Straight that an agreement reached in 2009 between Metro Vancouver and a Richmond-based composting company paved the way for the new food-scrap collection service.
Once crews collect the food scraps and yard trimmings, the material will be shipped to a facility operated by Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre for processing. By composting the food scraps instead of sending them to the landfill, the City of Vancouver aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Food waste does produce methane gas in the landfill,” McLennan said. “It decomposes anaerobically, without oxygen, so it generates methane and carbon dioxide.”
Kathryn Harrison, a UBC professor of political science who studies environmental policy, welcomed the new composting service, but described it as nothing new.
“There’s a lot of other communities that have already done this,” Harrison told the Straight. “Vancouver isn’t at the edge of the envelope on this one, but that means that there are lots of opportunities to learn from other jurisdictions and adopt best practices from the get-go.”
She said the first challenge will be educating people about the new composting option.
McLennan said he anticipates some reluctance from people who will see sorting through their food scraps as a messy task.
He also said the service will not be available to large, multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings and condominiums, where residents generate mostly food waste for composting. He said the city only has an agreement for the disposal of combined food waste and yard trimmings.
Fees will not be increased on the 2010 property tax bill because of the new food scrap collection program. At present, users pay a minimum fee of $89 to have their yard waste collected by the city every second week.
More coverage of Vancouver's food-scrap collection program will appear in the next print issue of the Georgia Straight, which will be distributed on Thursday (April 22) across Metro Vancouver.