Published On: Fri, Jul 15th, 2011

Vancouver to test food scraps recycling in September

5086304Vancouver city is moving towards a full food scraps recycling program. But it is still holding back

a bit and will test the waters with a pilot project.

On Thursday city council unanimously approved putting two neighborhoods, Sunset and Riley Park, on a new garbage-reduction regimen. Starting in September more than 2,000 homes will find their weekly garbage pickup moved to bi-weekly, and their green trimmings pickup moved to once a week.

A number of multi-family and commercial buildings will also be put on the pilot program starting in November.

If the pilot proves successful, it will be expanded city-wide in 2012.

In approving the pilot, Vancouver is still far behind many other Metro municipalities. Eight other cities, including Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Langley Township and White Rock all now collect food scraps weekly. Both Port Moody and Port Coquitlam have moved regular garbage pickup to twice-a-week, and Port Moody has one of the highest garbage diversion rates in the country, according to Chris Underwood, the city’s solid waste management director.

Last year Vancouver began picking up fruit and vegetable compostables, but not all food scraps. Under the new plan all compostables, including meat, dairy and food waste paper, will be considered recyclable.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the program was long overdue. He said the collection program would move the city towards its Greenest City Action Plan goals of trying to reduce material going to landfills by 50 per cent by 2020.

Underwood said going too fast too soon would be a mistake.

“Going citywide from the outside without testing it first could result in a number of uncertainties,” he said.

“The prudent approach is to start with a pilot so we can fully understand what these uncertainties are so we are well prepared to roll this out city-wide.”

The pilot will cost $383,000.

Underwood said the city will consider reworking its pickup rates when the program goes city-wide to encourage people to recycle more and keep compostables out of the landfill.

Helen Spiegelman, the head of Zero Waste Vancouver, applauded the city’s action.

“What a staggering change this is for people. But don’t underestimate what a change this will be for people,” she said. “For over 100 years municipalites have been telling us to put our garbage out in black plastic bags.”

She recommended the city find neighborhood volunteers who practice high-level recycling to help teach friends and neighbours as they get used to the new program.

 

Source : www.vancouversun.com