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Why Every City in North America Should Be a Little More Like Vancouver

Vancouver Sustainability
by Marie-Louise Monnier Mar 6, 2015

AFTER STARTING a cigarette butts recycling program in 2013 to keep its streets clean of the “most littered item across the globe“, Metro Vancouver is going one step further by introducing a food scraps ban.

Food scraps being thrown away with regular garbage is a bigger problem than you would think. When in the landfills, food and other organic materials are buried under other waste and do not decompose properly due to the lack of oxygen. They consequently create methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Not only that, but they use up a lot of landfill space. Over 30% of what Vancouverites send to the landfill is compostable organics, says Metro Vancouver.

Since January 2015, in Vancouver, organic waste is to be separated from solid waste. In the same way we all separate plastic bottles, cans, paper products, etc. from the rest of our trash, food waste has to be disposed of in a special green bin. This new recycling program includes a large spectrum of waste: “raw food, plate scrapings, leftovers, depackaged food, meat, etc. Some food-soiled paper such as pizza boxes or used table napkins can also be collected with the food scraps”, explains Metro Vancouver.

Although some may already grimace at the idea of keeping food waste in their homes until collection day, there’s nothing a bit of organization won’t fix. You can easily freeze your organic waste in a brown paper bag until it gets picked up. Most cities do not have a program like the one set up in Vancouver, but that should not prevent you from trying your best! You can easily dispose of your frozen organic waste in some drop off spots in your city or in a friend’s composter when you’re running out of space (that’s what I do).

There have been several other green-bin programs in Vancouver over the past years; therefore this organic disposal ban does not come as a shock. The population also has a few months to get used to the process as the food scraps recycling program will not be strictly enforced until July 2015.

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