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Commercial Food Waste Disposal Regulation

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Background

In 2019 the RDNO Board of Directors endorsed a plan for regulating the disposal of commercial food waste in the region. Potential stakeholders were informed about the proposed regulation at several events in late 2019 and early 2020. With the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, this implementation was delayed with implementation planned for 2022.

The proposed regulation was originally referred to as “Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) Food Scraps Disposal Ban”. It is now referred to as “Commercial Food Waste Disposal Regulation” to more accurately describe the planned scope of the regulation and how it is planned to be implemented in the RDNO Municipal Solid Waste Management Bylaw (No.2832, 2019).

Purpose

Food Waste makes up the largest component of landfilled materials for the commercial sector in the RDNO. Expanding organics diversion in this sector is an important step in meeting the region’s and province’s solid waste management goals. This involves reducing the annual per capita disposal rate by over 30% by 2028.

When food and other organic materials end up in landfills they:

  • Generate methane, a greenhouse gas over 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Landfill gas collection systems will capture the methane, but most landfill gas collection systems will only capture up to 75% of the methane (meaning that 25% or more still escapes to the atmosphere).
  • Use up limited landfill space. Buried under layers of waste and without access to oxygen, food can’t decompose properly.
  • Increase leachate which is a liquid produced from the high water content in food scraps. This liquid percolates through other waste in the landfill making it a difficult material to manage.
  • Reduce the recovery of resources such as compost which can improve soil health.

Also, wasting edible food is not sustainable, it takes a lot of energy and resources to grow, harvest, transport, package, store and dispose of wasted food.

Implementation & Enforcement

As more information becomes available for this proposed regulation it will be posted on this webpage.

An amendment to RDNO Municipal Solid Waste Management Bylaw (No. 2832, 2019) that will define the materials included and organizations affected is planned for 2022. It is expected that an information and education period will take place after the bylaw amendment and there will not be surcharges for food waste disposal at RDNO Diversion & Disposal Facilities during this information and education period. After the information and education period the initial enforcement will focus on organizations that generate significant volumes of food waste and surcharges will be added to waste generated by commercial organizations that do not separate out their food waste. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who may be affected by the Commercial Food Waste Disposal Regulation?
The disposal regulation is planned to apply to organizations that sell food and dispose of it in garbage. Initial enforcement will focus on organizations that potentially produce large ongoing volumes of food waste, for example, larger grocers that do not have measures in place to reduce and or divert food waste going into garbage.

What materials would the regulation target?
Materials targeted are pending future RDNO Board of Directors approval of the bylaw amendment. Materials currently being considered are raw and cooked food scraps from commercial premises and may include:

  • fruits and vegetables.
  • meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, bones and egg shells.
  • dairy products.
  • bread, pasta, rice and baked goods.
  • tea bags, coffee grounds and filters.
  • food soiled cardboard and paper.

This regulation covers food waste that is generated before it is sold to customers and includes kitchen scraps, spoiled or expired food. The regulation does not include food and food soiled paper waste resulting from customers. Businesses may also choose to include customer generated food and food soiled paper waste in their food waste diversion program with consideration that these materials need to be separated from non-compostable food and food soiled paper, such as plastics, plastic lined cups/cartons and metals.

How would the proposed regulation be enforced?
Enforcement would consist of load inspections at RDNO Diversion & Disposal Facilities as well as on-site education and compliance checks. Initial enforcement is planned to focus on communication and education. Initially it is planned that the regulation will focus on loads that contain significant quantities of commercial food waste and over time there will be lower acceptable thresholds. Waste haulers and their customers are encouraged to devise cost effective systems to comply with the regulation that meets their individual situation.

My organization produces a small amount of food waste; how would it be affected?
Enforcement of this regulation focuses on organizations that sell food. Small amounts such as scraps from employee lunches are outside the scope of this regulation. However everyone and all organizations are encouraged to keep food waste out of garbage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and landfilled waste, and conserve and recover resources that are beneficial to our communities and environment.

How does one divert food scraps from garbage?
There are several ways to divert food scraps from garbage:

1. Start by reducing avoidable food waste which will save time and money. The following resources can help your organization save money, protect the environment and improve local food security:

2.  Hire a Commercial Hauler to provide collection services and haul to a composting facility.

3. Onsite Composting, organizations can compost food scraps on their premises using low or high tech systems that are capable of processing between 2 to 100 tonnes per year. This involves ongoing commitment by staff and management to manage and process compost, control odors and find uses for finished compost.  For more information on systems please check out the following resources:

How much space is required to collect food scraps?
It depends on how much food scraps your business produces and how frequent collection is. Also, keep in mind you may likely require less space for garbage collection when you divert food waste and/or less frequent collection frequency. Some organizations may choose to do a food waste audit themselves or have their hauling company provide an assessment.

What are some questions I should be asking food scraps haulers before I consider hiring them?

  • What are the fees for the collection service (this depends on collection frequency and types of waste containers provided)?
  • How frequent are collections?
  • What types of materials are collected?
  • What are the fees for replacing missing or broken bins?
  • What is the fee for an additional unscheduled pickup?
  • What are the types and sizes of waste bins provided?
  • Are containers washed and if so how often and at what cost?
  • Is there any kind of odor control provided for containers?
  • Are containers lined with compostable plastic bags, biodegradable plastic bags or paper bags and are there extra costs for these liners?
  • Where would containers be placed?
  • What happens when there is a contaminated load with unaccepted items?
  • What happens to food scraps after they are collected?
  • Are the amounts collected periodically reported and to whom?
  • Do you provide additional containers such as kitchen catcher containers?
  • Do you provide educational materials such as posters, pamphlets, presentations or training sessions for staff?