On January 1, 2015, the City of Vancouver (the “City”) enacted a series of amendments to the Solid Waste By-law (No. 8417), which are intended to divert organic, biodegradable waste from the City’s landfills. The City’s approach mirrors that taken by a number of other Canadian municipalities (including Victoria, Nanaimo, Toronto, and Hamilton), as well as the provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The amended bylaw requires all food waste to be disposed of via its own waste removal stream, separate from those for garbage and recyclable materials. While the collection services for single-unit residences and duplexes will be provided by the City, owners and occupiers of multi-unit residential buildings, as well as institutional, commercial, and industrial (“ICI”) properties, are responsible for developing their own “Food Waste Diversion Plans” to ensure that food waste is collected and disposed of in accordance with the bylaw.

Monetary penalties (equal to a 50% surcharge on existing disposal costs) will be levied against owners and occupiers that violate the bylaw; however, these penalties will not be introduced immediately. Prior to July 1, 2015, violations will be flagged and violators served with informational materials explaining the rationale behind the new regime. After this six-month transition period, penalties may be levied against large (i.e. ICI) producers, followed by medium-sized producers in 2016, and small generators (i.e. home owners) in 2017. The threshold for determining what constitutes a finable violation will also be reduced gradually, from loads containing 25% organic matter in 2015, to those containing 5% organic matter by the end of 2016.

Individuals in affected industries, particularly large, ICI producers such as shopping centres, hotels, and large restaurants, will want to evaluate their existing waste management practices, and begin developing a Food Waste Diversion Plan to ensure compliance with the amended bylaw. More information on the City’s organic disposal ban is available here:

http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/solidwaste/businesses/OrganicsBan/Documents/OrganicsDisposalBanInformationPackage.pdf.