Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Challenge

With the exception of garbage incinerators, not much attention is placed on solid waste in our region even though it has a big impact on our environmental footprint and sustainability. Metro Vancouver has a goal to divert 70% of solid waste from landfills by 2015. One of the key priorities is to divert kitchen waste (organics) from garbage into regional composting. As organics represent about 40% of all waste in our region, this is a major component of Metro Vancouver's waste reduction strategy called “Zero Waste Challenge”. For a few years, some neighbourhoods in the Township of Langley have been piloting a regional “green bin” program. This program is now ramping up in other parts of the region. I’ve been told that there currently isn’t enough facilities to process food waste into compost in Metro Vancouver yet, though this should be ramping up shortly.

Another interest fact is that in our region single-family housing and commercial properties have about a 50% recycling rate, but multi-family housing only has 16% recycling rate. In the City of Langley, the municipality provides recycling service to multi-family housing, but this is the exception in the region. Municipalities will need to work harder to ensure that multi-family housing has a legal requirement and space to recycle. In my building, we actually have more space in our recycling bins than garbage for example.

While it doesn’t get a lot of attention, Metro Vancouver's solid waste strategy is a good news story about how our region plans to clean up its act on solid waste and reduce dumping our garbage in Cache Creek.

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