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Strata Solutions: How to Comply with New Organic Waste Requirements

This article was prepared with the help of the professionals at Waste Management.
By FirstService Residential Jul 21, 2015

As of January 1, 2015, new legislation came into effect that requires food waste to be separated from regular waste. The cut-off date for implementation was July 1, which means fines for non-compliance can now be imposed. This legislation applies to all organic waste and is not exclusive to strata corporations. Currently, the legislation only applies to Metro Vancouver and is likely to be rolled out across the province in the future.

But how does the new legislation specifically affect strata corporations? It all depends on the strategy you take. Investing time now to plan an organics program and educate owners (if you haven’t already) is a proactive way to adhere to the new legislation while avoiding the fines for stratas that do not separate their organic waste.

Developing an organic waste program may also have the added benefit of reminding residents of the other waste diversion programs run by your strata, such as recycling and bottle collection programs.

Many strata corporations are asking about how the new legislation will be enforced. Below is a summary of the different enforcement periods and associated fines to be imposed by your waste service provider:

  • January 2015 to June 2015 (six months): Education period during which no fines will be assessed. This is an opportunity for strata corporations to begin implementing new organic waste programs.
  • July 2015 to December 2015 (six months): Any garbage loads with more than 25% organics may be fined with a 50% surcharge (approximately $500 or more).
  • 2016: Any garbage loads with more than 10% organics may be fined with a 50% surcharge.
  • 2017: Any garbage loads with more than 5% organics may be fined with a 50% surcharge.

While enforcement measures are likely to begin with major organic waste producers, such as restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels, strata corporations should take note of the above enforcement calendar. Many owners worry about the difficulty of encouraging all residents to properly separate food waste. Education is the key to success. Here are three quick tips on how to begin informing residents of the new organic requirements:

  • Select a council member to lead the organic implementation. This leader will oversee the launch of the program in your building, while monitoring the response and feedback from residents.
  • Host an information session at your building to educate residents on how to properly dispose of organic waste. This will also create an open forum to respond to concerns and misconceptions.
  • Post notices and signage in common areas and garbage rooms to remind owners of the need to separate organic waste.

Strata councils and residents are likely to have questions about strategies for meeting the new legislation guidelines while also limiting bad odours and infestations. Here is some helpful advice: 

Use a “Kitchen Catcher”

The success of your organic program is greatly influenced by how residents separate food waste in their units. Experience shows that the use of a kitchen catcher (small plastic bin with a snap-latch lid) by residents is critical for the proper capturing of organic material. A good kitchen catcher will be sturdy and have a seal-tight lock, to prevent spillage should it be dropped in a common area. Kitchen catchers should also be perforated to allow airflow. Contrary to common belief, the airflow prevents foul odours by allowing organic waste to dry rather than decompose in moisture. It may also be helpful to purchase a kitchen catcher that comes with a label explaining what items should be disposed of as organic waste. Properly diverting food waste in your unit helps your strata’s centralized organic toter remain clean and smell-free.

Keep Your Waste Dry

The dryer the food waste disposed of by residents, the less potential for bad odours and infestation. Residents should pour all food liquids down the drain rather than into the kitchen catcher. Also be sure to frequently empty your kitchen catcher into your building’s centralized toter.

Newspaper is also a great tool for residents. Wrapping your food scraps in newspaper before dumping into your kitchen catcher will help soak up any moisture to further limit odours. Newspaper is not only readily available, it is often free. Use it to line to your kitchen catcher. Since newspaper is compostable, it can be dumped into your strata’s centralized organic toter.

Be Sure to Remove Glass, Plastic and Metal

It is important not to mix glass, plastic, and metal with your organic waste. While it may seem easy to throw out containers lined with food scraps, including non-organic materials in your organic waste can easily lead to fines for the strata as these materials can be detected by your service provider during regular pick-ups.

For further tips on creating an organic waste program at your strata, contact your waste service provider. They are likely to have additional information resources and staff who may assist with communicating the new requirements to residents of your building.

FirstService Residential
FirstService Residential in British Columbia is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation, a global leader in the rapidly growing real estate services sector, one of the largest markets in the world. As the leading property management company in North America, FirstService Residential oversees more than 6,500 residential and commercial associations including 1.5 million residential units and over 50 million square feet of commercial space across three provinces in Canada and 21 U.S. states. The company has more than 12,000 employees driving local market expertise and manages in excess of $6 billion in annual budgets.
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