The Resort municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is developing a proposed bylaw that will change the way Whistler manages its waste. The proposed bylaw will ban recyclable and compostable material from garbage and require commercial and strata buildings to provide space for recycling and compost bins within their garbage rooms.

In 2014 Whistler produced 15,761 tonnes of landfilled waste. An audit conducted in 2012 highlighted that 54% of the garbage stream could have been diverted for composting and an additional 13% could have been recycled. Diverting recyclables and organics from Whistler’s waste stream is expected to drastically reduce the amount of garbage Whistler is landfilling annually.

What are organics? Organics include compost and food scraps – raw and cooked food, plate scrapings, leftovers, expired food, meat, bones, dairy products and more.

Why Recycle? Recycling food scraps reduces garbage and greenhouse gases while creating nutrient rich compost for local agriculture.

Metro Vancouver most recently implemented a mandatory food scraps recycling program which has been very well received by the city and serves as a standout best practice for others making a similar transition. Financial enforcement of the program began on July 1, 2015. Waste haulers arriving at the regional disposal facility with more than 25% visible food are surcharged at 50% of the cost of the disposal. Starting in January 2016 Metro Vancouver will begin to minimize the allowable amount of food scraps in the garbage.

A similar transition period has been proposed for Whistler’s organics diversion. The bylaw is expected to emerge in Fall 2016, allow for an education and support period and then transition into financial enforcement beginning in 2017.

What could diverting organics from the waste stream look like for Whistler? Single-family homes would be expected to continue bringing their recyclables including compost to local depots, while strata and commercial buildings not already equipped with a compost bin in their waste room would be expected to provide one. If the commercial and strata sector undergo proper waste hauling contract negotiations they could save between $200,000 and $400,000 annually. The RMOW could experience savings of up to $90,000.

In accordance with the proposed change AWARE will be working with the RMOW to offer commercial and residential strata buildings, as well as individual businesses, on-site support to identify and work through barriers to change.

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