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Guides for Recycling  and Waste Management

Guide for Commercial & Residential Recycling, Composting and Waste Management

This guide is for property managers, business owners, event manager, municipal employees...and everyone in between!

Please see the tables of contents below for sections on a variety of topics and 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 set up an in office recycling program
  3. How to set up a workplace composting program
  4. Guide to Sustainable Event Management
  5. Green Event Checklist
  6. Understanding Reporting Standards for Waste & Recycling

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

Background
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.

Conclusion
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 Set Up an Office Recycling Program

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.

Conclusion
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 Set Up a Workplace Composting Program

In Canada, we produce a lot of garbage and don’t recycle enough of it. Yes, that’s grim, but the good news is that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

So, let’s try harder. Let’s make stronger commitments to reduce our waste and recycle what we can. One of the best places to recycle—where the impact will be greatest—is in the office. 

Maybe you are thinking of setting up an office recycling program but don’t know how. You’ve got the right idea. Next, follow this simple step-by-step guide, complete with some great tips to make it a success, and away you go.

Observe and take notes If this is your office’s first foray into recycling, the first thing you need to do is take a bird’s eye view of things. Observe what is being thrown away that could instead be recycled. This list might be longer than you think, and it should include more than just paper. 


This information gathering is useful to get yourself familiar with your needs and will come in handy when you’re ready to hire a recycling hauler.

Initiate a Green Team
Send out a call to everyone in the office, across all departments, who is passionate about recycling. Next, gather them together to make up a core team of movers and shakers. These will be your point people moving forward.Creating a collective has a lot of benefits: it keeps people accountable and disperses the duties so that no one person suffers from burnout.

Plus more heads are better than one. In the planning phase, have brainstorming sessions. Assign duties and share the responsibilities. Once the recycling system is up and running, check in regularly and continue to tweak the program. Who knows what kind of great ideas are stewing in the minds of your colleagues?!

Choose a recycling hauler
Start calling around to recycling haulers in your area. Overwhelmed with options? Don’t worry, the pros are going to stand out. 

You are going to need a recycling pick up service that can accommodate your specific needs. Look for one with a great reputation, good customer service, that can handle office capacity, and that serves your location. Growing City, for example, services Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey and more, and they pick up paper, cardboard, soft plastics, mixed recycling, metal, glass, and compost at any and all types of offices.

Make sure your recycling hauler supplies bins, too. You might want a selection of 35 gallon or 65 gallon wheeled totes that can be stored in the existing waste area outside, as well as a variety of small bins for in-office use. A good recycling hauler will help guide you with the details of your plan, and will be flexible to work with your needs as you move forward.

Prepare
Before you launch, make sure you have everything you need. Have you set up dates with your recycling hauler for bin drop off and pick up? Do you have signs printed off that you can post around the office? 
Start early and let your staff and colleagues know ahead of time that this exciting change is coming. Get them used to the idea and help get them excited to participate.

Get it going
Don’t delay! Get the recycling system up and running and smooth out any wrinkles as they come up. Setting up a recycling system is not so high stakes that you can’t make adjustments as you need. If you fumble, no worries. Just go! Do it now!

Top Tips for Success

1. Be strategic
Place recycling bins in places where they are closest to the source. There should be a bin beside every printer and photocopier, and centrally located between people’s work stations. No one is going to walk down a hallway to recycle a piece of paper. 

2. Keep tweaking
As in improving. Check in to see what’s working. Are some bins getting overloaded while others remain empty? Are there items being placed in the wrong bins? Things being thrown away that can be recycled? Keep asking how you can make it better for everyone. Your recycling hauler can help, too, if you’re facing a problem and are unsure of a solution. 

3. Motivate
Who doesn’t love some friendly competition? Others live for rewards. Engage your Green Team to come up with a rewards system or make recycling goal oriented to keep people engaged.

4. Make it clear
Make it as easy as possible for people to participate by clearly labeling the bins. Send out updates (but not too many) to let your colleagues know if there are any changes coming to the recycling system. As with anything in life, less confusion = more success.

5. Create less waste
This is at the heart of it all. Stuck for ideas on how to help people create less waste to begin with? Here’s a few: Replace disposable items from the kitchen with non-disposable items, set printers to automatically print on both sides, switch to recycled paper stock and install sensor on lights.

Encourage people to turn their computers off at night. Reward people for participating in bike to work week. There are endless ways that we can decrease how much of everything we use.

6. Be a leader
Lead by example and commit to a (near) zero waste lifestyle, be the recycling champion you wish to see in the world. If you are creating a recycling program at your office, you should be the first to adjust your behaviour.

We all have an obligation to do more to reduce our impact and recycling a meaningful step. Living in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, or anywhere in the Lower Mainland means that we are surrounded by natural beauty.

So let’s all try our best to keep it that way!

Guide to Sustainable Event Management

Events large or small can quickly become an environmental waste land, especially without the proper foresight and planning.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Sustainable event management is simple enough to accomplish, for any style or size of event you are planning. From music festivals to weddings to conferences, executing a green event is easy.
Simply follow this step-by-step guide to make your next event a green one.

Before the Event
If you have ever tried to throw together an event last minute, you might already know that the more detailed the plan ahead of time, the better the event will be. (Or at least, the less stressed you will be.) The rule especially applies to sustainable event management, since there are a few extra things like recycling and composting stations to organize.

Here are the pre-event steps to follow for a smooth operation.

Step 1 — Gather numbers

The single most important piece of information you need at this stage is the number of people attending. Every other step in sustainable event management will depend on how many people are going to show up.

Whether you have a fixed guest list (like an office event) or the event open to the public, the greenest option is to send e-invites or a use a paperless ticket system. In addition to saving paper and resources, online systems make attendance tracking simple, and it’s easier and more efficient to communicate with guests this way.

Step 2 — Location, location, location!
The guest list and type of event will help determine your location. Think green when choosing your location: Is it accessible by transit or bike? Where does the power come from and can you use a green energy source if generators are needed? What kind of impact will there be by holding your event here?

Step 3 — Scope it out
Once you have decided on where it’s happening, take some time to get the lay of the land. Ask for a copy of the layout and/or go there in person. Plan where you will put up signage about the sustainability initiatives, and where your vendors, water stations, and the compost and recycling bins will go.

Step 4 — Find a waste service company
This is going to make life so much easier! Hiring a waste service company likeGrowing City will put your mind at ease. Why? Here’s a list of some of the things they will do to make your event green and sustainable:


Step 5 — Get on the same page with vendors

While you are organizing your food vendors, communicate with them that the event is going to be low impact/zero waste. Ensure they are distributing compostable packaging (at the very least), that they are composting their waste, and encourage them to participate in other sustainable practices.

Step 6 — Get on the same page with staff
Communication will also be key for any other staff or volunteers you might have to help ensure the event runs smoothly. They should be well-informed of your green efforts so that they can effectively communicate with guests. Draw up and distribute clear instructions your team can read ahead of time, and go over the plan during setup.

Step 7 — Spread the word
Let the world, or at least your guests, know that your event is going to be a green initiative by including relevant info in your event page, on your invites, social media,and marketing material. Take the opportunity to encourage people to bring their own cups, water bottles and food containers. Consider a reward system for everyone who participates (ie. the first drink is free or a discount on food).

Day of Event
The day has finally arrived, and look at that — you are almost completely stress free because you have followed all the previous steps. Now it’s go time.

Step 8 — Get there early
As early as possible — there will always be more to do than you think. It’s a good idea to be the very first to arrive, before any vendors or staff. If others show up before you, you won’t have as much control over the outcome of the event or the success of the green initiatives you are trying to accomplish.

Step 9 — Get setting
Be strategic, and keep your green initiatives top of mind. You will need to coordinate with the waste disposal company you hired and ensure that the recycling and composting stations are set up before guests arrive. Communicate with any other members of your team and make sure they have the answers to any common questions they will face, like when guests ask: is this compostable?

Step 10 — Stay on top
Throughout the event, make sure your green initiatives are running smoothly. This might mean making announcements over the PA system, refilling your water stations, or keeping your team on top of emptying bins if they are filling up quickly (if you haven’t hired this duty out).

Bonus Step — Enjoy!
You’ve done a great job. Make sure you give yourself some time to enjoy it.

Extra tips:

Green Event Checklist

Here's a list of things to consider when running a green event! Let us know if you have any more ideas and we'll add it to the list!

General tips for a Green Event:

  1. Location: Make sure it is accessible by public transport, bike, and by foot, and encourage carpooling
  2. Goals: Create goals for making your event Green
  3. Reuse Promotional Materials: If your event is not one-time-only, consider not printing dates or time-specific slogans on your promotional materials, so they can be reused for the next event
  4. Go Plastic-Free: Provide alternatives to harmful plastics, such as disposable water bottles, cups and utensils, and even badges for staff and volunteers (cornstarch badges are fully compostable)
  5. Recycling: Place easy-to-see recycling bins around the event grounds, so your guests don’t have to search for them. Make sure you have clear signage about what goes where.
  6. Go Paper-Free: Have your tickets or invites sent digitally, along with maps and other info
  7. Food Waste: Place compost bins around the event, and have a plan for where uneaten food should go, such as donating it. Food in landfills is a big contributor to methane emissions.
  8. Source Locally: Find vendors and supplies in the area
  9. Source Green: Find vendors and suppliers who are working to make their practices as green as possible. Look for sustainability certifications, and ask to see their sustainability policy.
  10. Plan Green: You can make your event greener before it even begins. In the planning stages, go paperless.
  11. Alternative Energy: Try to use solar power where you can
  12. Promotional Material: Don’t hand out disposal promotional materials that will just end up in the waste
  13. Clean up: Look for environmentally-focused clean up crews
  14. Signage: Have lots of very clear signs identifying recycling bins and which materials go where
  15. Signage: Print signs on recycled paper, or paper with the highest levels of reusable materials
  16. Evaluate: See how the event ran according to your Green Goals, and where it can be improved in the future
  17. Decorations: Use flowers that are in-season, decorations that are durable and reusable, and made from environmentally-friendly materials
  18. If possible, consider hosting an outdoor event during the day- you will use less energy than an indoor event, and a nighttime event
  19. Consider renting supplies instead of purchasing, when possible
  20. Avoid cut flowers, and instead consider decorating with live, reusable plants
  21. Provide a  bin or other location for guests to place reusable items, such as lanyards (bamboo can be used to make lanyards), after the event, so they do not get thrown out
  22. Food: Have vendors offer seasonally-available fruits and vegetables
  23. Water: See if you can have water trucks or fountains at the event, to reduce the use of plastic water bottles
  24. Make sure your dress code matches the season--formal clothes are often warmer, and may require a/c
  25. Electricity: LED lighting can reduce your carbon footprint by more than 70%
  26. Make sure boxes/containers used to bring supplies in can also bring them out, and store them long term
  27. Schedule event start and end times around public transit operation hours


In office tips for a Green Event:

  1. Consider using re-usable mugs/plates, or having people bring in their own
  2. Encourage people to take notes electronically, and to not use paper
  3. Avoid paper decorations, and instead find something that will last longer, and you can reuse
  4. Encourage people to take home any leftovers
  5. If handing out documents, consider sending them by email instead
  6. Serve vegan/vegetarian food options
  7. Have compost/recycling easily available and identified
  8. Avoid paper filters and single-serve coffee makers
  9. If you are hosting your event outside the office, make sure the location you choose also has environmental policies, and is accessible by public transportation, or organize a carpool
  10. Avoid individual servings of cream/sugar/condiments
  11. Have pitchers available instead of bottled water
  12. If having out-of-town presenters or guests, consider using video-conferencing software
  13. What type of food service would create the least waste? Buffet? Sit-down?
  14. Make sure food is not individually wrapped
  15. Avoid plastic table cloths, or even any table cloths at all (if possible)
  16. Have recycling bins (especially paper) placed in convenient locations
  17. Try to find a location with lots of natural lighting, and windows that open, for better ventilation

Understanding Reporting Standards for Waste & Recycling

All across the world, people, politicians, and corporations are becoming more aware of the waste being thrown out everyday, and the impact it has on our environment. This has been a big focus for a number of policies and initiatives that have come out recently.

For example, as you may have heard, Canada is working towards banning single-use plastic products by 2021, which would include bags, straws, and plastic cutlery.

Global Reporting Initiative
An initiative you may or may not have heard about, though, comes from the independent international organization, Global Reporting Initiative. GRI has chosen to focus not on the consumer discarding single-use plastics, but on businesses producing large-scale waste.

These reporting standards--developed by a Project Working Group and approved by an independent body of the GRI, called the Global Sustainability Standards Board--focus on the waste produced by businesses because the organization hopes to change the way waste is viewed--as a product of manufacturing decisions, rather than just an inevitability. By creating this reporting standard, GRI and GSSB hope to help businesses focus on measuring their waste production, as a crucial step towards managing it. They hope this standard would lead businesses to redesign products in a more sustainable manner, and take another look at how the products are packaged. 

The Global Reporting Initiative and the Board also want businesses to take responsibility for the waste produced by their customers, as a result of their product or their packaging.

By encouraging businesses to acknowledge the cause of the waste produced by consumers, this report would ideally encourage them to find ways to reduce that extra waste as well. So not only would there be less waste thrown out by the manufacturers, there would also be less being dumped by consumers as well. 

By focusing on companies, they are addressing the problem of waste not on an individual level, but are instead directing the solution at the manufacturing level. They are also not targeting any one stream of waste or any certain product, but waste as a whole. 

As the Board is an off-shoot of the Global Reporting Initiative, the standard (GRI 306: Waste) does not focus on the practices of businesses in just one country, but rather all over the world. 

What is ‘Waste: 306’?
Waste: 306 is a standard for businesses all over the world to report their waste creation and disposal in every level of production and management. It was created by a Project Working Group in the Global Reporting Initiative.

The Global Reporting Initiative is an international body working to develop ways for businesses and governments to understand their impact on different issues, such as climate change and human rights. The organization wants to create ways for these bodies to not only examine their effects on these issues, both positive and negative, but also to share them with others, so organizations and governments can learn from one another.

The Waste: 306 reporting standards are intended to help businesses rethink and redesign their process. This includes everything from the materials they use in the creation of their products, and their packaging, to how they are disposing of it. Each step from the manufacturing of a product to its end of life is meant to be accounted for and examined by the business, according to these guidelines. These standards encourage businesses to take responsibility not only for the waste generated directly from their process, but also the waste their consumers create by using their products.

The document lays out in detail how organizations should report their waste creation and disposal, including how to separate the data and what data to include. It also explains which methods of waste disposal are most environmentally friendly, and which are the least, as another way to ensure companies are considering all aspects of their disposal--not just how much is disposed of, but how it is disposed of, and the effects the method can have on the environment. 

This document, Waste: 306 was released in May 2019, and until July 15, 2019, was open for public feedback and questions. The Global Sustainability Standards Board, an independent body of the GRI, hope to have the final iteration approved by early 2020. 

You can read the report in full (here).

Metro Van has a Solid Waste Management Plan from 2010, which does bring up reducing the creation of waste, but largely focuses on how to better dispose of or harness waste after it has been created. 

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