The Heap

Food Waste Fatalism

The Metro area of Vancouver, British Columbia, is in the process of implementing a massive food waste diversion program in the city's effort to reach a goal of recycling 70 percent of its waste by 2015. So it is interesting to read this Vancouver Sun article, in which Robert Lange, director of New York's Bureau for Waste Reduction, basically tells Vancouverites not to get their hopes up. His grim pronouncement is based on New Yorkers' failure to embrace a five-year kitchen scraps diversion pilot program. Lange, speaking at Vancouver's Zero Waste Challenge Conference earlier this month, attributed the poor participation to New York's tight footprint, dense neighborhoods and a perceived "yuck factor" on behalf of residents.

As the article notes, Vancouver is a very different city than New York, and given the relative success of food waste diversion programs in more analogous west coast cities like Portland, San Francisco and Seattle, it's reasonable to expect Vancouver will succeed where New York, dominated primarily by multi-family residences, failed. But as more big cities take on similarly ambitious goals that involve residential food waste diversion, New York may be more likely to loom as a cautionary tale.