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Richmond plans expansion of green can program

Townhouse residents will soon be able to recycle more green cans than just Heineken and Canada Dry.

On Wednesday, city staff unveiled a plan to bring food scraps recycling—known as the green can program—to townhouse complexes throughout Richmond by June 2013.

“Expansion of food scraps and organics recycling to residents in multi-family residences is a priority in light of pending disposal bans for this material in 2015,” said Suzanne Bycraft, manager of fleet and environmental programs, in her report to council’s public works and transportation committee.

City hall is also proposing to make it more convenient for homeowners by giving wheeled carts and kitchen containers to all owners of houses and townhouses who receive weekly curbside recycling pickup from the city.

But an expanded recycling program comes at a cost.

Townhouse owners would pay an extra $49 each year and single-family homeowners—who already pay $68.50 per year for organics collection—would face an annual utility bill increase of $15.50.

And if approved by council, taxpayers would face another $3.25-million bill to pay for the new wheeled carts—cash already squirrelled away in a reserve account at city hall.

Food scraps account for 21 per cent of all household waste, according to the city, and the material can easily be recycled, along with yard trimmings, to create compost. Organics can also be used to create energy.

Metro Vancouver is expected to ban food waste in the garbage stream by 2015.

Besides the looming ban, staff say reducing garbage is important given Metro Vancouver’s expected hike in disposal fees from $107 per tonne to a projected $205 per tonne by 2016.

Under the city’s recycling expansion plan, single-family homeowners can choose between four sizes of green waste carts—80 litres to 360 litres—and still use paper bags for yard trimmings.

The city intends to phase out homeowners’ own green cans by the end of 2013 as the new city carts would be dumped into trucks by automated tippers. The new carts also promise greater resistance to rodents and animals.

Also planned is an expansion of garbage service by offering homeowners pickup of four large items—mattresses, furniture, appliances—each year.

Staff are urging council to extend its garbage and recycling contract with Sierra Waste Services to Dec. 31, 2017 “to achieve economies of scale for optimal pricing.”

Richmond rolled out its green can program in April 2010 for single-family homes. One year later, the city expanded the program to approximately one-third of Richmond’s 11,217 townhouses, that receive city recycling services, as a pilot.

Organics recycling is not yet proposed for apartments and commercial properties.

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