Food waste fines are coming

Image credit: Adam Madojemu

Starting July 1, SFU, along with the rest of Metro Vancouver, will be fined for throwing organic waste into the landfill.

Solid food waste takes up a lot of space in landfills and does harm to the environment if it isn’t composted properly. Organics that are trapped under other garbage take much longer to decompose and release methane gas into the atmosphere.

Garbage loads with a more than 25 per cent of visible food will be surcharged with an additional 50 per cent of the disposal cost. Metro Vancouver will levy fines against garbage haulers, based on what they bring in, who will then pass them on to those who are actually generating the waste.

SFU has been participating in the organics ban for the past 18 months in preparation for the forthcoming financial enforcement.

SFU’s Sustainability Office claims the university has been successful at meeting its organics recycling goals.

Rachel Telling, the Sustainability Office’s Zero Waste Coordinator, expressed that the implementation of the zero waste initiative at SFU has been a positive experience overall. “We’ve had mostly positive feedback, but we try to be reactive to whatever challenges we may face,” Telling stated.

She went on to recognize the diligent cooperation that the staff and administration have showed so far in the initiative and the positive result of various outreach efforts by the sustainability office.

The implementation of the fine on food waste aims to draw forth more individualized accountability from Metro Vancouver. From July 1 to December 31, enforcement of fines will be in place for an excess of 25 per cent organics in the trash, with that percentage gradually lowering over time starting in January. By that time, most, if not all, buildings will be expected to have food waste recycling programs in place.

Telling stressed the importance of zero waste initiatives: “100,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste per year [is] going into the landfills just from residential waste alone.”

She said this calls to question why so much food is being wasted in the first place when so many people are in need. “We want people to recognize that food waste has a value.”



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