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Metro Vancouver looks to go green with wastes

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Metro Vancouver will introduce a ban on the disposal of organic materials into landfills in 2015 that will affect local businesses, residents and Langara College.

More than one million tonnes of garbage every year

The region currently produces more than one million tonnes of garbage every year. It is estimated that food accounts for over 250,000 tonnes a year, around 20 per cent of all waste produced. The ban will likely include almost all types of food, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, baked goods, frozen foods and uneaten portions from restaurants.

Any paper products used in food packaging or handling will also be included, such as napkins and coffee filters. “I think it’s amazing and it’s a good stepping point into the greenest province point that we want to be in by 2020, so I’m all for it,” said Melanie Allard, a student in the professional photo-imaging program at Langara.

Consultations will take place throughout the year. The findings will be reported to the Metro Vancouver Board in July 2014. After the findings are reviewed an educational program will be developed to inform individuals and businesses on the rules and restrictions of the ban.

Food wastes to biofuel

Recycled food will be used to create nutrient-rich compost and biofuel. Right now it sits in landfills turning into greenhouse gases such as methane. Disposal fees are lower on food wastes than they are on regular garbage. The Himalaya Restaurant already separates its food waste from garbage and report that the impact is cost-neutral, although small increases or decreases in cost can be expected depending on disposal methods.

Manjit Pabla, whose family owns the Himalaya Restaurant on Main Street said that the business is saving money on disposal. He realized this after doing calculations on the price of disposal on organic materials. “It was kind of weird when we thought of it,” said Pabla.

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A gang of fruits setup a protest on the second floor by the journalism department on March 3, 2014. They are excited about the Organic Disposal Ban coming to Metro Vancouver in 2015.

Fines for those who don’t comply

Fines will be put in place for those who fail to comply. Residential food collection programs will not be accepting any plastics with organic waste. Paper liners will provide a viable alternative. Businesses will either have to separate the waste on-site, or transport it to a processing facility.

“It’s a little hassle of sorting it out, but then in the long run if it is going to help, great,” said Pabla. “In the beginning it seems like a little bit of work but eventually you get used to it.”

For information on the ban visit metrovancouver.org

 Reported by Lukasz Jonca

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