City of Vancouver to launch food-scrap composting service

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.



Angry Dave

Apr 20, 2010 at 6:30pm

So, apartment buildings not included,condo neither and diesel trucks are going to drive around belching out pollution and Co2?


Apr 21, 2010 at 9:53am

Why? They are only collecting things that are easily composted at home, from people who are in detached houses and therefore have the space to compost. How will having garbage trucks come every week reduce greenhouse gases?


Apr 21, 2010 at 11:53am

vancouver at it's best again. why target densely populated areas when you can drive around polluting the city? awesome
at least we'll be paying dump truck drivers for more hours of work...


Apr 21, 2010 at 12:10pm

puzzled - if people were actually composting in your yards, I would agree with you, but clearly they aren't (despite the fact that the city offers composters at a discounted cost). I think other municipalities have shown that with curbside compost pickup, you actually get waste diverted. It would be better if everyone did it on their own in their backyard, I agree. Also, these trucks currently go round to pick up everyone's green bins anyway, so in this phase, nothing has changed on that front.

The city report also indicates that they are not doing multifamily housing in this phase because the city doesn't currently service those areas (garbage and recycling is done by private contracts). the city is trying to figure out how to get that sector composting. I'm sure if you have any ideas on how to get private companies to spontaneously start collecting compost, the city would be happy to hear them. It would be helpful if you could also identify a composting facility that could handle that amount of material.

All this information is available on the city's website:


Apr 21, 2010 at 3:34pm

another bullsh*t idea from another bullsh*t government. its only useful if u live in a complex or a building, why dont they make it mandatory to have a 2 foot compost bin on every house with a yard therefore we do our part and pickup with the big trucks is not needed.


Apr 21, 2010 at 5:05pm

If the only things being collected are yard waste and food scraps that can already be handled in a backyard composter, from people who already have yards that could house backyard composters, what's the point?

This is particularly weak compared to what UBC already has in place for many UEL residences. We can send pretty much anything food-related, including cooked items, meat, napkins, and paper cups, to be composted as UBC's using an in-vessel composter. We simply drop it into the green bins in our building's garbage room; UBC collects it every few days, and we've had no problems with odour, vermin, or anything else. It's cut the amount of garbage our household produces in half and taken very little effort on our part. This is what cities like Vancouver should be pursuing, rather than "partnerships" with private companies providing very limited services.

(For those interested, more information about UBC's composting program can be found here:

10 8Rating: +2


Apr 22, 2010 at 6:27pm

Shocked at the negativity. Every little step counts. Thanks Bob82 for pointing out the proactive route. If we can learn from UBC and apply it to the (staggeringly) larger population of Vancouver, super! For now, if you're in a house and don't compost, take advantage of this added service. I doubt the majority of home owners are actively composting. What this might do for just general habit change might be a step in the right direction.

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