Article

What Metro Vancouver’s Organics Disposal Ban Means for Your Business

In 2015, Metro Vancouver will introduce a ban on the disposal of organic material in its facilities, and the ban will apply to both residential and commercial waste.

Once the ban is in place both individuals and businesses will need to manage their waste differently, because food and other organic material will no longer be allowed in landfills.

And with over 40% of all food waste in the Metro Vancouver region coming from businesses and institutions – amounting to over 100,000 tonnes every year – small businesses will likely want to get a head-start in planning how to redirect their share of this food waste.

What’s Included in the Ban

The ban will apply to everyone in the Metro Vancouver region, including: 

  • Commercial buildings (such as grocery stores and restaurants); 
  • Institutional and industrial buildings (such as hospitals and schools); and 
  • Single family and multi-family residential buildings and mixed-use buildings (such as apartments and offices)

When the ban comes into effect, your small business will be required to separate organic materials from regular garbage.

While it has not yet been confirmed what organic materials will be included or excluded from the ban, possible banned items could include fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, frozen food, packaged food, floral, deli and bakery items.

Restaurant food waste such as plate scrapings, paper napkins and bags, and food-soiled paper like paper plates and coffee filters will likely also be included.

Further, while plastic bin liners will be banned as a part of the residential food collection program, there may be some exceptions for commercial waste because it’s normally higher volume and handled separately from residential waste. Businesses should talk to their local hauler or landlord to better understand their options.

How Can My Business Separate and Minimize Its Food Waste?

Metro Vancouver recommends that business talk to their current garbage service provide for tips on how to best plan to separate food from regular garbage.

Businesses are also encouraged to reduce the volume of their food waste by donating or increasing donations to organizations that collect usable food to distribute to food banks and community groups, as well as reassessing inventory control processes to reduce waste.

What Impact Will the Ban Have on My Bottom Line?

The financial impact of complying with this ban will depend largely on the nature of your small business, and also what food waste management practices you already have in place.

Metro Vancouver reports that some businesses that already actively separate food waste from garbage have found its impact cost-neutral, while other businesses have seen slight increases or decreases in costs.

Fines will apply for businesses that fail to adhere to the ban once it’s officially in place, but Metro Vancouver states that’s its primary goal is to keep food and other organic material out of the landfill, not to develop an extensive fining process.

For More Information

Metro Vancouver will hold consultations on the phasing in and enforcement of this disposal ban beginning in early 2014.

For upcoming consultation dates and more information on the organics disposal ban as it becomes available, please visit the Metro Vancouver website.

To find out more about organic waste pick-up in your area, visit the Metro Vancouver Recycles website and search for “pick up” (under service required) and “organics” (under material required).