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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Composting Series, Part 1: Food Scraps Recycling in Metro Vancouver

Have you ever wondered about to do with the food scraps you accumulate each week? Today marks the first of a four-part, month-long series on composting. Whether you're curious about starting your own composter or want to reduce your amount of household garbage each week, there's sure to be something of interest!

About one-third to a half of the average household's garbage is food scraps. But did you know that there's a good chance that you can now recycle them? Most municipalities in Metro Vancouver now collect food waste!

Cities offering food waste collection:

Bowen Island
Langley (Township)
New Westminster
North Vancouver (City and District)
Pitt Meadows
Port Coquitlam
Port Moody
West Vancouver
White Rock
Source: Metro Vancouver

Composting food scraps and food-soiled paper products provides a valuable resource, diverts waste, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and in the process, helps to create a more sustainable city.

So, what can you put in? Where do you put the food waste?

If your neighbourhood has curb-side food scraps collection, you can put your leftovers or spoiled food into your yard trimmings waste bin. Just be sure not to use plastic or biodegradable bags! These contaminate the compost and also interrupt the composting process.

While there might be slight variations depending on the municipality you live in, food scraps recycling is as easy as this -- simple and no fuss. You can even put in meat, cheese, dairy, and bones!

The City of Burnaby, for example, operates a curb-side food scraps recycling program for single-family households and some multi-family complexes also participate and receive food waste recycling (Green Bin) services. 

For a handy guide on what you can and cannot include, as well as how to make a kitchen compost pail liner with newspaper, check out their Food Scraps Brochure.

To find out about other cities in Metro Vancouver, visit your respective municipalities' website (see "Cities offering food waste collection" above).

How do I get started?

1. Get a lidded container to collect food scraps and food-soiled paper products for your kitchen. An old 4 litre ice cream bucket or large plastic container are both good examples.

2. Grab a few sheets of old newspaper to make a liner for the bucket.

3. Collect accepted food scraps and food-soiled paper products in your container.

4. Empty your food scraps, along with the paper liners, into your yard trimmings container.

5. Set out your yard trimmings container on your regular scheduled collection day. The container does not have to be full for it to be collected.

6. Rinse and lightly wash your kitchen bucket and yard trimmings container in between uses.

And that's all, folks!

What if your municipality isn't on the list that receives food scraps collection? Or maybe you're interested in starting your own compost bin.

Stay tuned and join us next week for Part 2 of our Composting Series, on backyard composting.

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