Bins aim to prevent wasting of waste

Growing City, which provides businesses composting options for all their food waste and other organics.  - Martin van den Hemel photo
Growing City, which provides businesses composting options for all their food waste and other organics.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

It won’t be until 2015 when Richmond businesses will be required by law to divert all their organic waste from the local landfill.

But Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who chairs Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee, is hoping local businesses won’t wait for legislation before they begin to do the right thing.

“I hope they will see the light before that,” Brodie said.

According to Metro Vancouver, some 40 per cent of materials sent to the landfill are organics, such as food, yard trimmings and soiled paper. All of these could be recovered and processed into useful products such as compost or biofuels, instead of creating greenhouse methane gas in landfills.

Organic waste from restaurants and grocery stores are two of the biggest culprits, ending up unnecessarily in the waste stream.

Brodie described the problem as “just phenomenally huge.”

Businesses are the largest generator of organic waste, with food scraps being the majority contributor, according to Metro Vancouver.

In its 2011 Zero Waste Challenge Strategy, Metro Vancouver wrote: “Private companies have been slow in investing in new processing facilities primarily because of the lack of an assured supply of feedstock...

“This announcement will provide investors with the desired assurance of future feedstock, and provide advance notice to the business sector so that they can prepare infrastructure to separately collect, deliver and process their organic material.”

Quietly waiting in the wings is Lisa von Sturmer, founder of Vancouver-based Growing City, which provides businesses in Richmond, Burnaby, Surrey, and Vancouver—North Vancouver will soon be added—composting options for all their food waste and other organics.

Founded in 2009, Growing City started with one corporate client—today it has more than 80—and long before talk of a region-wide ban on organic waste.

So with 2015 right around the corner, von Sturmer is well-positioned to take advantage of businesses’ and government’s increasingly eco-friendly mindset.

“When I first got started, I didn’t know how the corporate world was going to respond to composting,” von Sturmer said.

But she was pleasantly surprised to see the corporate community “got on board really early.”

Von Sturmer will be making an appearance on CBC’s Dragons Den early next year, and she’s tight-lipped but smiling when asked how her company’s business proposal fared.

For all that show’s popularity, and the promise it holds for dramatically increasing her firm’s profile and client base, von Sturmer said 90 per cent of her client referrals currently come via word of mouth or referrals.

One of the most-overlooked recyclables is paper towels tossed into the washroom trash bin despite being completely organic.

“It’s a waste of a resource,” she said.

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