Approximately 40% of all materials that are thrown away are organics according to Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Challenge Strategy. This includes all food scraps (meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, bones and plate scrapings) food-soiled paper (paper towels, napkins and pizza boxes) and yard trimmings (grass clippings, leaves, plants and flowers).
These materials can and should be diverted from the landfills as they can be re-purposed and recycled. In fact, the Zero Waste Challenge Strategy estimates that 265,000 tonnes of organic waste needs to be recycled annually if Vancouver is to meet their goal of 70% diversion by 2015.
Recently, the North Shore Recycling Program launched its Green Can initiative, to encourage all three North Shore municipalities to recycle their organic waste. Starting May 2012, organic waste will be collected alongside the Curbside Yard Trimmings Program. According to the Green Can, approximately 2,000 tonnes are expected to be diverted (10%) in 2012 with that number jumping to 3,800 tonnes (20%) in 2013 and 4,700 tonnes (25%) by 2014.
With 40,000 households expected to participate, several upgrades are being made to the North Shore Transfer Station green waste area where the organic waste is held until they are transported to the Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre facility.
A full list of what is acceptable materials and what is not can be found on the Green Can website or by clicking here.
Several other cities in Metro Vancouver have similar programs or have initiated pilot programs. Programs like this and other ones such as backyard composting are extremely important to the environment and should see a marked increase in participation once food scraps are banned from the landfill (to take effect 2015).
Organic waste recycling and composting will be critical towards achieving a zero waste future for Metro Vancouver.