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Guide to Recycling & Waste Management

Your comprehensive guide for commercial & residential recycling, composting and waste

We wrote this guide for property managers, business owners and municipal employees. Please see the tables of contents below for sections on a variety of topics.

Please contact us if you have any questions!

Table of Contents

  1. How to Set Up a Waste and Recycling Program for a Strata
  2. How to Write RFPs for Waste and Recycling Services

How to Set Up a Waste & Recycling Program for a Strata

In 2011, the City of Vancouver set a goal: to become the world’s greenest city by 2020. It is ambitious! But these are changing times, and bold action is needed to meet the growing challenges of climate change.

To make it happen, the City put into motion the Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), which dictates how it’s going to work and what it’s going to look like to improve measures on green transportation, climate leadership, access to nature, healthy ecosystems, and more. Everyone is expected to do their part.

In 2015, as part of the GCAP, property management companies and property managers were given a big task: set up and help residents adopt a food scraps recycling program.

About 40% of all garbage sent to landfills is compostable. The City’s target? By 2020 to reduce total solid waste going to the landfill or incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels and achieve zero waste by 2040.

That is why the City has now enacted an organics disposal ban, which suggests that it is mandatory for buildings to include a food scrap recycling program.

So, how are we doing? Well, thanks to the collective cooperation of residents from Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, New Westminster and beyond, in 2016 (the most recent year data is available), the amount of solid material heading to the landfill was 371,000 tonnes, or 23% less than in 2008. Not bad!

Whether you are a property manager who oversees a residential, commercial or office building, reaching these targets takes the effort of everyone.

To ensure a high success rate, here is a helpful guide for property managers.

Easy Does It
As a property manager, you must take the lead in seeing to it that the residents in your commercial, office or residential building have the knowledge and tools to responsibly compost their food scraps. The easier things are for people, the more success they are going to have.

Haul Away
Property managers will need to procure the services of a hauling company. These compost pickup companies can also offer extra services for the initial set up, and provide wrap around services in addition to pickup such as bin cleaning, providing liners, and conducting waste audits.

One Stop Shop
Don’t make residents go out of their way to dispose of their food scraps. Put the green organics bins beside the garbage and blue paper and container recycling bins. Ensure the space is easy to access, tidy and well lit.

Clear and Correct Info
There is confusing information out there and people are still sorting out what to do with things like “biodegradable” bags and “compostable” single use utensils. When residents are unsure about what to put and where, there are more likely to throw their scraps into the garbage than take extra time to find answers.

The City has printable materials you can post above the green bins provided. It is a great way to give your residents clear and correct information.

They should know exactly what can go in the green bin, including:

• All food, including produce, grains, dairy, and meat
• Prepared food (leftovers)
• Shells (egg shells, seafood shells) and bones
• Small amounts of fat, oil, and grease
• Wooden chopsticks, skewers, popsicle sticks
• Coffee grounds and filters, tea bags
• Food packaging, such as food-soiled pizza boxes, waxed cardboard, and paper bags
• Food-soiled paper, like napkins, and food-soiled newsprint (often used to line a kitchen catcher)
• Yard and garden trimmings, as well as cut flowers

There are other pamphlets and signage you can get from the City’s website. Sending reminders or placing fliers around the building can be helpful reminders.

Delegate Duties
Depending on your involvement in the building, you may need someone to monitor the green bins. This ambassador can also be a point person for the hauling company, or if residents have any further questions. This is important because if improper materials are making their way into the compost, an entire load may be rejected and sent to the landfill.

Focus on the Positive
There are lots of benefits to having an efficient food scrap recycling system and high levels of participation. To have they system run optimally, it may take some guidance, support, and the occasional friendly reminder. Here are some of the reasons why the food scrap recycling program is a good thing:

• Food scraps don’t decompose into compost when added to the landfill because they lack access to oxygen. Instead, the scraps create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

• On the other hand, when food scraps are sent to a processing facility, they are converted to biofuel and rich compost for landscaping.

• Recycling food scraps helps people become more aware of how much food they waste, and can help change habits, saving people money when buying food.

• Somewhere between 30-60% of food gets wasted in this country, which also means that all the resources that go into creating that food are wasted, too. Changing wasteful habits has a far-reaching effect.

• It costs less for property managers to dispose of food scraps when they are separated — because of the organics disposal ban, garbage loads that contain too high a percentage of food scraps with be charged a fee.

Becoming the world’s greenest city is a decisive goal, but climate change is an increasingly urgent issue, and having an efficient and effective organics disposal system is a necessity. The Lower Mainland doesn’t have many more places to put its garbage since we are hemmed in by mountains, an ocean, and a border. And since land is so valuable, opening up more for landfill would mean less land for farming, which reduces food security.

Simply put: the more people effectively dispose of their organic waste, the less garbage there will be, and the better for us all.

It doesn’t take long for new habits to become old hat, so give your residents some time, make it easy on them, and help them out where you can.

Thank you for doing your part!

How to Write RFPs for Waste and Recycling Services

Writing a request for proposals, or RFP, can feel daunting. It doesn’t have to be!

This straightforward guide will cover the basics and help you get organized so that your RFP is clear and precise. The better your RFP, the smoother the process will be when you are ready to hire vendors. And with a polished RFP, you will attract high quality proposals from highly professional vendors.

The RFP process from the point of view of the stakeholder (ie. municipal or provincial government branch, property developer, management company) includes four main steps:

The RFP serves both the main stakeholder and the vendor; it is important because it communicates expectations and irons out any details before the contracts begin. If you need to write an RFP, follow this guide. 

TIP: The most important thing to remember is to keep it clear and keep it simple.

A request for proposals (RFP) is a document that a stakeholder writes, which outlines the important information of a project and what is needed in order to complete the project. Vendors, such as waste collection services, will use the document to assess whether they have the capacity to fulfill that project; then they will apply, or bid, on that job by responding directly to the RFP.

Case study: a property developer or municipal government will need waste collection services at new buildings they just got approval to build. They will write an RFP that outlines exactly what services are needed (recycling, compost, garbage, etc); how often; for how long the contract will last; and the amount of money they are willing to spend. 

Why Write an RFP?
The phrase: cast a wide net comes to mind. As the main stakeholder, you could research all potential vendors.You could scroll through their websites and weed through the services they offer. You could call them all to ask the same questions again and again,determine their availability and capacity, and then keep all that information in a spreadsheet as you cross-reference one vendor against the other.

OR you can cast a wide net by determining the scope of your project and letting vendors come to you. Once you receive the proposals, it is a comparative breeze to narrow it down and decide on a vendor.

It’s an easy choice. So, let’s talk about how to do it. 

Information Gathering
The very first thing a stakeholder needs to do is gather information. You may need to sit down with your team to clearly identify and compile the needs of the project. The more information you have up front, the simpler it will be to complete the next steps of the RFP process. The following information will be useful to gather:


‍Just the idea of writing can cause an outbreak ofcold sweats. Relax! You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. RFP templates arewidely available online and can be easily customized for your needs.  

TIP: Edit thoroughly. Your level of professionalism will be reflected in the quality of proposals you receive. 

To cast the widest net and reach as many vendors as possible, make use of your networks. This can include:


Since you have already determined a value for each question, it is now simply a matter of reading through each proposal and adding up the values for each question of each proposal. Don’t kid yourself, this is going to take some time.

TIP: Set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. You can either evaluate each proposal as it comes in or you can do it all at once—whatever works best for you. But don’t put it off too long! Vendors might be juggling other proposals and you might lose them if you don’t act efficiently.

That’s it. Now you are ready to make a decision and an offer. Simple!

Hopefully this has made clear that the more information you, the stakeholder, can gather and provide up front, the better.

Consider the RFP as a high level Help Wanted ad. The better a job you do, the more inclined high level vendors will be to respond. Experienced contractors will be familiar with the process so it is best to follow a standard format.

Remember: keep it clear and keep it simple.

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We know that tracking your waste diversions is important to you - that's why we provide you with your Diversion Update. Track your CO2 diversions, total waste and more!

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