Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Metro Vancouver’s progress in managing garbage, recycling, and organics.

One of the goals of our region is to reduce the amount of solid waste that is generated, and the amount of that waste that ends up in landfill or sent to our region’s waste-to-energy facility. The Metro Vancouver Regional District has released a new report which shows how we as a region as progressing towards meeting these targets.

In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, 64% of solid waste was diverted from landfill or waste-to-energy.

Overall regional waste diversion. Select chart to enlarge.

This is following a quarter-century trend of increasing the amount of solid waste that is being diverted.

Regional waste diversion rate. From 1994 to 2018. Select chart to enlarge.

When it comes to waste diversion, not all things are equal. Our building industry is a leader in preventing waste from being burned or land-filled. Almost 2/3rd of waste from single-family housing is also diverted. There is significant room for improvement with only 37% of waste from multi-family housing being diverted, and 46% of waste diverted from offices and shops.

2018 waste diversion by sectors. Select chart to enlarge.

In order to increase the amount of waste diverted from multi-family housing, the regional district will be working on a recycling toolkit for property managers. The district will also be working to develop new programs to encourage offices and shops to increase their recycling rates.

The regional district is also planning to work with its “member municipalities to examine regional approaches to reducing single-use items, many of which are plastic.”

Reducing the amount of waste generated is important. The following graph shows that per capita waste generation peaked in 2007, and has been relatively flat since 2010. There is room for improvement.

Per capita waste generation, recycling, and disposal. From 1994 to 2018. Select chart to enlarge.

The regional district plans to continue promoting its “Think Thrice” campaign which encourages residents to reduce clothing purchases, and repair or reuse clothes. Clothing creates a significant amount of waste in our region.

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