City of Vancouver considering pilot project to fully recycle food scraps
If it is successful, there are plans to expand it to all neighbourhoods next year
By Jeff Lee
July 12, 2011
It can take years for recycling programs to catch on. It took 15 years for Vancouver’s blue-box recycling program to achieve a 77-per-cent participation rate. San Francisco, which brought in its food-scraps program in 2000, has a 30-per-cent participation rate. Seattle, which began diverting food scraps in 2005, has a success rate of 50 per cent.
But the incentive is there, says Chris Underwood, Vancouver’s manager of solid-waste management. Fully 35 per cent of the city’s garbage – or about 129,000 tonnes – is made up of kitchen and compostable wastes, he said. Of the more than three million tonnes of garbage produced in the region, 55 per cent is already diverted to recycling and composting.
The vast majority of the city’s compostable garbage comes from commercial operations, including restaurants and food processing facilities. Those companies will be targeted at a later date in the third phase as part of a larger campaign.
The first phase has met with only limited success. About 12 per cent of households recycle raw vegetable and fruit scraps, well down from the 35 per cent the city is shooting for. That may be in part because nearly six in 10 Vancouver homes already have a backyard composter where they dump their vegetable and fruit scraps, Underwood said. “They don’t see a need to put them in the green cans because they already do it themselves,” he said.