Plastic, glass, paper, waxy paper, milk cartons, cardboard, raw food, food scraps, lawn trimmings, re-recycled material all have somewhere special now to go! And that list can be a bit daunting at first, until we all get a handle on it. The newest roll out for our environmental plan here in Vancouver is well under way and I thought to take us through all the changes that will be required and see if I can help stream line the steps!

The city has offered a few months of buffering before a series of fines will occur to those households and buildings that do not comply. Let’s see if we can’t get a handle on this great new program that will give us a richer, cleaner better cared for Vancouver before we get dinged in the pocket book!

It can be a little confusing, and for those with large families, a fair bit of organization and work will be required to keep on top of it. Let’s start with the rules and then go from there.
The plan itself is called the “Under the Greenest City” 2020 Action Plan, the City has set a target to reduce its solid waste that goes into our landfills or incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels.

To achieve this great goal, the City is committed to:
  • Expanding the existing citywide Green Bin Program to allow the collection of all household food waste
  • Developing education and enforcement programs to keep recyclables out of the waste stream
  • Advocating for more Extended Producer Responsibility programs for packaging
  • Developing a building deconstruction program
To learn more about the whole program please click this link to read all about it.

But what are the key changes that are going to affect us on a daily basis? How do we know what to toss, what to compost what to recycle?? Here is a stream lined how to – to tell you just that.  

First of all, to make sure your garbage, recycling or green waste gets collected, follow these guidelines: 

  • Place bins, blue boxes, and recycling bags in such a way that the City's collection crews can access them
  • Keep items that are not accepted out of your bins, blue box, and recycling bags 
  • Set out your garbage on time
GarbageWhat is considered garbage?

Most of what we used to just pop in the garbage can now be recycled or composted

Your regular garbage may contain:
  • Rinsed diapers
  • Potato chip bags
  • Ziplock bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Candy wrappers 
But no yard waste or leaves, food scraps or animal waste, recyclable items or hazardous material should be added to this pile.

Here in BC we have been recycling for decades so this list shouldn’t be a big surprise to any of our local residents, but if you are an out-of-towner, it may help you take a read as it is surprisingly different province to province.

•    Aerosal cans
•    Glass jars and bottles
•    Metal cans
•    Milk cartons
•    Paper cups
•    Plastic bottles, containers, cups, jars, jugs, tubs, and lids (any plastic code number)
•    Spiral-wound paper cans and lids
•    Tetra Paks     •   

Food Scraps and Waste - AKA - Composting

If every resident in Vancouver recycled food scraps for a whole year, the city of Vancouver believes that we would remove 5,500 trucks worth of food scraps from the landfill. That is a whole lot of garbage!

Food scraps
  • Dairy products, including cheese and yogurt
  • Egg shells
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Meat, bones, fish, and seafood shells
  • Noodles, rice, beans, grains, and bread
  • Small amounts of oil and fat (soaked in paper towel or newspaper)
  • Teabags, coffee grounds, and filters
  • Tissue paper (no blood or fecal matter)
Food-soiled paper product
  •  Empty cereal boxes (no plastic liners)
  • Paper bags (for lining kitchen containers, such as Bag-to-Earth)
  • Paper napkins
  • Parchment and wax paper
  • Pizza boxes
  • Newspaper (for wrapping food scraps or lining kitchen containers)
  • Used paper dishes (no plastic coating)
Yard trimmings
  • Leaves and grass clippings
  • Short branches and pruning (under 10 cm thick and 50 cm long)
  • Weeds, plants, and flowers
In order to get your proper waste bins, green bins, recycling bags and the like visit the city of Vancouver’s website for all the information. Also, there are many stores carrying compost containers big and small, compost bags, and many other forms of composting techniques such as a worm eating composter – very cool and clean (you would be pleasantly surprised and your kids will think your cool!) and much more. I am sure as the year rolls on more savvy eco-creators/entrepreneurs will help us have even more amazing options. I will feature the best of the new designs and household composting tricks and techniques as the Spring unfolds.

IT WILL be easy being GREEN one of these days very soon…and worth every effort.