Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Langley trail to reduce reusable items going to the landfill

One of the main goals of Metro Vancouver is to reduce the amount of stuff that ends up going to the landfill. Most items that we throw out in our region end up in a landfill in Cache Creek. While the region has stepped up to the challenge of reducing waste with enhanced recycling, and now organic waste collection, one of the things that hasn't gotten as much traction is getting people to reuse perfectly good items or supplies that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

Most people will bring large items and unneeded construction material to waste transfer stations located throughout Metro Vancouver.

For 36 days last fall, Metro Vancouver worked with SSG Ltd. —the operator of the Langley Transfer Station—, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity to test two new models to encourage the diversion of reusable materials from landfill. Household items were collected by the Salvation Army while building materials were collected by Habitat for Humanity.

During the first half of the trail, people dropping off items where encourage by SSG staff to divert reusable items into collection bins. They would still have to pay the tipping/disposal fee.

During the remaining part of the trail, Salvation Army and SSG staffed setup a collection trailer outside of the tipping/disposal fee area. People at the transfer station where told that they could avoid paying a tipping/disposal fee for their reusable items if they used the free collection trailer; they were encourage to donate to the Salvation Army to recover the cost of the collection trailer.

According to a Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Committee report, the second part of the trail was more successful. Over the whole trail period, 80 tonnes of material was diverted from going to landfill.

The trail cost was $14,500. According to the Metro Vancouver report, this was not cost-effective due to the labour costs of having the staffed collection trailer.

As a result of the trail, Habitation for Humanity has introduction unstaffed collection bins for building material at several transfer stations throughout Metro Vancouver.

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