City cracks down on green waste laws
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Being green isn’t a new concept. The process of separating garbage, from compost to paper, has been around for a while. While Metro Vancouver is working hard to become a greener city, some residents are still not getting the message—ironically, those that jumped on board in the first place. Back in 2004, Port Coquitlam began neighbourhood yard trimming collections, the first program of its kind in BC. Then in 2008, PoCo was the first to separate green food scraps into a Green Cart, rather than joining the garbage—they also added food-soiled papers to the list the following year. Finally, in 2011, PoCo expanded their accessibility by reaching out to multi-family complexes. Today, many would think that these residents are at the forefront of change, but it looks like some values have gone rotten.
Recently, high volumes of plastic bags have been contaminating the Green Cart Program. Now, city officials across the Tri-Cities are done taking out the trash for residents. With green cart programs rolled out around all surrounding cities and a six-month adjustment period complete from last summer, most would argue that there’s no longer any room for excuses. Notably, the City of Coquitlam has sent out over 1,000 letters to homes that haven’t complied with the plastic bag violations. Future violators should be warned that a $500 fine is now in place.
Coquitlam Environmental Services manager Steffanie Warriner told the Tri-City News that plastic bags, including ones labeled compostable or biodegradable, cannot be put into green cans. The city will be upping its education to help residents better understand this.
Coquitlam hopes to change the regular habits of residents who haven’t been abiding to guidelines through a modern day approach. The city has created the ReCollect App, which reminds residents every collection day. Additionally, it provides helpful information, such as where and how to recycle specific household waste simply by typing in the name of any waste item.
According to Port Coquitlam’s Green Cart handbook, 47 per cent of residential garbage that ends up in landfills are food scraps. The green bin initiative has been trying to change that. Food scraps in green bins will be brought to a composing facility and will be turned into a useful composted soil project for local gardens and farms. It is easy to wrap food scraps in newspapers or paper bags, but plastic bags of any kind, even biodegradable or compostable, will hurt the final product of the compost. All foods scraps can go in your green bin. Not only fruits and vegetables, but fish, bones, plate scraps, and even pizza boxes. The result: significantly less garbage in the landfills, and significantly more composted soil.