Opinion: BC needs to step up to keep food waste out of our landfills

May 11 2022, 2:55 pm

Taylor McCarten is the CEO and Co-founder of BinBreeze and is passionate about reducing the impact of food waste everywhere it’s created.

The climate and climate change is on everyone’s minds these days, and it should be. As we collectively strive to make small changes to better our environment, such as carpooling or saving electricity, improving and increasing our composting behaviour is a small but positive and rewarding introduction to sustainable behavior.

Many people in BC compost, but we’re not actually doing a great job of it

On average, British Columbians throw away $1,100 of food per household each year – food that could have otherwise been eaten, with scraps all too often ending up in our landfills generating harmful greenhouse gasses. Not only that, each year food waste in Canada creates 56.6 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions.

Composting plays a crucial role in counteracting these impacts, preventing organic waste ending up in landfills where, without access to oxygen, they produce methane—a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In addition, by using circular economic practices we can help reduce the amount of finite raw materials that are taken from the earth. This means using products that minimize their environmental impact by taking resources from the earth to be utilized and safely returned to the soil. According to the Vancouver Economic Commission, three materials offer the biggest opportunity for advancing circularity in Vancouver: food, textiles and construction material.

Today, the largest component of waste in our landfills is food waste, making up 40% of material sent to our landfills, so it’s more important than ever to ensure clean, simple and accessible ways to compost.

Compost is often called black gold

According to the Compost Council of Canada, compost can benefit the environment and people by “locking up carbon in soil, returning nutrients to degraded land while also supporting food security and improved nutrition.”

Composting is an easy way to reduce emissions and keep food scraps out of landfills all the while contributing to the BC government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16% below 2007 levels by 2025.

Composting all organic waste produced in an average Metro Vancouver household (approximately 750kg) would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving 1,200 km in an average passenger vehicle. However, fruit flies and unpleasant odours can be a deterrent to this simple and highly beneficial food recycling process.

Why not set yourself a challenge? Consider making your own compost.

If you have the space, try the Dig and Drop Method.

  1. Dig a hole approximately 10-12 inches deep and as wide as you want it to be
  2. Drop food scraps or other organic material into the hole
  3. Replace the soil, and you’re done!

In a time when news of climate change and the state of the environment might seem overwhelming, it is important to remember the simple steps we can take to improve our environment for both ourselves and our future generations. It’s important that we can come together and reflect on the impacts our daily actions have on our world, and decide to go forward in the right direction.

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