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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a commercial food waste disposal ban?

A commercial food waste disposal ban is the prohibition of commercial and institutional food and organic waste being disposed at the Regional District of Nanaimo landfill and Transfer station. The commercial food waste disposal ban is contained in Bylaw 1531 which replaced the old Bylaw 1428. All food and organic waste from commercial sources will have to be sent to a licensed composting facility.

Why is there a commercial food waste disposal ban?

Composting is the most sustainable way to manage organic waste. Composting produces a beneficial product using feedstock that is otherwise wasted in the landfill. A landfill eventually fills up, but a composting plant can continue to process waste indefinitely.

Landfilled organic waste produces methane, a potent gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Diverting food and other organic waste is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bottom line is that it's the right thing to do.

What are the benefits of composting?

What types of waste are subject to the disposal ban?

Commercial Food waste means compostable organic material including raw and cooked food from a commercial premise and includes but is not limited to:

Does the commercial food waste disposal ban include ALL food waste, including pre-consumer waste (i.e. table scraps)?

The commercial food waste disposal ban includes ALL commercial food waste, including post-consumer food waste such as table scraps.

Where does food and compostable waste collected go for processing?

Food waste and other acceptable household compostables go to licensed processing facilities such as Nanaimo Organic Waste (NOW) located at Duke Point in Nanaimo. Materials are composted using an in-vessel process that generates temperatures sufficient to ensure maximum pathogen reduction. The finished products include compost, fertilizers and soil amendments, all of which meet provincial government standards.

Where can I compost my food scraps?

Food scraps that include meat, bones and dairy products must be composted at a licensed in-vessel composting facility. You may deliver compostables to a composting facility yourself or hire a hauler to dispose of them. Vegetable and fruit scraps can be composted on site.

When did the ban take effect?

The commercial food waste disposal ban was introduced on June 1, 2005, with a six month phase-in enabling affected organizations to adapt to the changes and implement systems to divert their food and organic waste.

What organizations does the commercial food waste disposal ban apply to?

The commercial food waste ban applies to businesses and institutions that generate food and organic waste, including food wholesalers/distributors, accommodation services with food services, food and beverage stores, food services and drinking places, hospitals, education institutions with food services, nursing and residential care facilities, community food services and other facilities generating compostable organic material.

Do all businesses have to participate?

All businesses that fall under the following categories mentioned in the Organics Diversion Strategy will be subject to the commercial food waste ban bylaw. This includes; Restaurants, Retail Food Stores, Wholesale Fresh Food Suppliers, Hotels, Schools, health Care Facilities (including Hospitals).

Who pays for the food waste collection service and bins?

The business or organization that produces the waste will pay for the food waste collection service and bins.

How do we comply with the commercial organics ban?

Businesses will have to contact their hauler to determine if they provide services for commercial organics collection and arrange to have a program in place to divert organic waste from the regular garbage stream.

Will food waste have to be separated from other garbage?

Yes, the composting facilities require clean organics free of plastic, metal, cutlery or any other non-organic contaminants.

What if we don't separate organics?

Organizations are expected to comply with the food waste ban. Bylaw enforcement is an option to achieve compliance.

What are the enforcement options?

Although the Regional District expects organizations to comply with this important waste diversion program, a variety of options are available to enforce the ban. Fines to haulers, fines to generators and rejection of loads at the landfill and transfer station can all be used to achieve compliance.

What happens if my food waste bins have the wrong material in them?

The compost facility may accept some contamination of non-organic items, however, as the program matures, the tolerance level of contamination will likely decrease. If your hauler notices excess contamination or if he/she is alerted at the composting facility to contamination, he/she will notify you and request improved separation. All organizations affected by the ban will be required to work towards as little contamination as possible.

Are we required to provide public food waste and organic waste receptacles?

Since the inception of the Green Bin program in the RDN, the public are becoming familiar with separating different forms of waste into assorted receptacles. (Several fast food restaurants and common food areas are already providing this service). Businesses should supply waste separation containers with proper signage for the public to separate their own waste.

Are garburators/solids processors a solution to dealing with organic wastes?

No, the potential increase of organic waste to our sewer systems would likely result in additional chemical usage at wastewater treatment facilities and decrease effluent quality released into the Strait of Georgia. Furthermore, the maintenance costs associated with owning a garburator may not be economical for the long term use.

There are currently bylaws in place that limit the amount of solids that you can put into the sewer system as well as the biological oxygen demand that your effluent generates. Using a garburator for your organic waste would likely put you in contravention of the sewage bylaws.

If I use bags to line my food waste collection receptacles, why must they be compostable?

Food waste collection bin liner bags must meet specifications for commercial composting facilities. Using the wrong liner bags may contaminate your food waste and result in additional charges from the company providing your collection services. Certified compostable liner bags are designed to break down in a composting facility with no visible or harmful residues. Biodegradable plastic bags will eventually break down but are unacceptable because they can leave visible traces in the compost product.
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Where can I find compostable bags or food service ware?

Please Click Here for compostable bag information

Who do I contact if I have comments or questions about the commercial food waste ban?

RDN Solid Waste Services
250-390-6560 or 250-954-3792
6300 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N2
Email: zerowaste@rdn.bc.ca
Last Modified:  May 26, 2017
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