Capturing Compostables: A Case Study of Small Scale Composting in Vancouver

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This research study explores the role of small-scale composting for the processing of food scraps in the City of Vancouver within the nexus of organics diversion and the municipality’s Greenest City policy goals. Conceptually the study is informed by the integration of public policy, the policy cycle, and concepts relating to diversified, scalable technology. Empirically the study adopts a soft systems methodology that employs an inquiry-based approach, predicated on in-depth semi-structured interviews with 27 individuals active in organic waste management within the City of Vancouver and the Metro Vancouver Region. Interviews were stratified into three groups to: reveal regional policy impediments; identify drivers for small-scale composting; and describe the operations and challenges experienced by City small-scale composting operators. This study found that City and Regional policies continue to be formulated and implemented to prioritize the development of large-scale organic waste collection and processing facilities. However, small-scale composting continues to gain momentum, as it presents an opportunity to diversify the scale and geographical placement of organic waste processing. Small-scale composting also connects directly to Greenest City policy outcomes for low-carbon waste management, local food production, increased awareness and behaviour change, and the potential to create low-barrier, green jobs. Findings suggest that, as innovative models for small-scale composting emerge, current regulatory requirements are prohibitive for the establishment of systems that aim to process food scraps from multiple City sites, and need to be adapted to meet the evolving options for diversified organics management. To further ensure the viability of small-scale composting, new policy development is needed to create a regulatory framework that is conducive for encouraging innovative methods of capturing and processing compostable organics.
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etd7655_EBlakeway.pdf 6.44 MB