A city whose goal is to be the "greenest" city on the planet by 2020 has yet to implement a comprehensive recycling program in its own city buildings.
Employees at city hall and the Vancouver Police Department, for example, do not have central recycling areas for newspapers, bottles, cans, paper or organic waste.
Some departments and employees have implemented their own systems to recycle items in the workplace while others continue to throw everything in the garbage.
"It's not good enough," said Mayor Gregor Robertson, whose Vision Vancouver party has pushed an environmentally conscious agenda since elected in 2008. "It's coming, it's just painfully slow at times."
The delay in implementing a recycling program at city buildings has been mired in problems related to having various waste collection contracts for buildings.
Deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston said over the years each department and agency has done its own thing in terms of recycling. The city also leases buildings and is beholden to landlords' views on recycling.
"What we ended up with was a series of different contractors servicing different buildings with different types of programs," Johnston said. "It's been inadequate so we're looking forward to ramping that up and offering better service to citizens who use our facilities and to our employees-and ultimately reducing our waste."
City staff identified 35 city buildings that generate the most waste and will implement so-called zero waste collection areas in the buildings where all recyclables, including organics, can be separated and stored.
The central library on West Georgia Street will be the first city building to operate under the new recycling system. The launch is Sept. 17, with facilities such as city hall, the police department, community centres and theatres to follow.
Johnston said one contractor has been hired to collect the waste at the 35 locations and provide regular updates to city staff on the amount of waste being diverted from the landfill.
Johnston said the plan is to expand the program to all city facilities. He didn't immediately know the cost of implementing such a system.
"We've seen some savings as a result of consolidating to one vendor, so we don't know exactly yet because we haven't rolled it out but we think it's going to be pretty much a wash," Johnston said.
Earlier this week, the mayor announced that residents who live in a house or duplex can add all food scraps and food-soiled paper such as pizza boxes along with yard waste to their green bin.
Residents already recycling uncooked fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells and teabags can now add meat, fish, bones, dairy, bread, cooked items, napkins and paper plates to the bin.
The changes are an expansion of the city's recycling program and a step towards Metro Vancouver's ban on all organic material going to the landfill by 2015.
At city hall, meanwhile, the mayor said his office has a blue bin for recyclables and a makeshift container for organics such as banana peels and other food waste.
He said he has taken the waste home and pointed out that Johnston was "scoring the mayor's office compost for a while" for his garden.
"It's a temporary fix and that's why we're anxious to get all of this shifted to make sure we have recycling and compost all dealt with at city facilities," the mayor added.