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Composter helps Vancouver restaurants reduce waste

The dumpster behind Trafalgar’s Bistro and Sweet Obsession bakery has been replaced with a City of Vancouver residential garbage can. But the two eateries can’t even fill that any more.

Until a few months ago the dumpster had to be emptied three or four times a week at a cost of almost $1,000 a month and the contents were just sent to the landfill. The two food businesses were already recycling just about everything, but not their organic waste.

So owners Lorne Tyczenski and Stephen Greenham invested $25,000 in a composter. It’s not a passive box for decay, but a high-tech machine that takes waste food and trim and converts it in one week into dark, rich soil.

The GreenGood Composter covers about the same amount of floor space as a chest freezer. What comes out — if it isn’t being added to gardens at staff members’ homes — is collected by Inner City Farms, a cooperative that farms people’s front and back yards for food.

The machine processes the waste from both businesses and produces 240 kilograms of compost each week. Trafalgar’s and Sweet Obsession each week put less than one bag of garbage at the curb for pickup between them.

“If it cost money to do it a lot of people with a business head wouldn’t give it a thought,” said Tyczenski. “But we are saving money and taking care of our own waste.”

Glass, metals and plastics are sorted inside while a recycling container outside takes the paper and cardboard.

“There are just a few things that our recyclers can’t take,” said Tyczenski, who reckons the composter and recycling system reduces their waste by about 98 per cent.

Although the GreenGood requires electrical installation, it does not have a drain or water hookup, so nothing goes in to the sewer. Water is removed through evaporation.

“We put about 2,400 pounds of waste in each week and take about 300 pounds of compost out,” he said.

GreenGood Composters range in size from residential units smaller than a bar fridge to industrial units the size of a minivan (