Thursday, July 21, 2022

In Metro Vancouver, people are still throwing electronics and cardboard into the garbage

Garbage Can

In Metro Vancouver, recyclable items, hazardous items, and items that are part of a product stewardship program, such as e-waste, tires, or pesticides, cannot be put into the garbage. To keep people, municipalities, and companies honest, the Metro Vancouver Regional District inspects about a quarter of the loads arriving at regional waste transfer stations. If a load has banned items, the regional district will apply a surcharge to the load. This surcharge is to incentivize waste haulers not to accept banned items.

The following table shows the percentage of banned items found during inspections over the last three years.

Material 2019 2020 2021
Electronic Waste 30% 35% 26%
Cardboard 24% 20% 25%
Large Objects 5% 10% 11%
Mattresses 14% 9% 9%
Other Banned Materials 6% 5% 5%
Food Waste 4% 4% 5%
Gypsum 4% 3% 4%
Paint (Includes empty containers) 3% 4% 3%
Tires 3% 3% 3%
Clean Wood 2% 3% 3%
Expanded Polystyrene Packaging 1% 2% 3%
Green Waste 1% <1% 1%
Oil (Includes containers and filters) 1% <1% 1%
Recyclable Containers 1% <0.5% 0.50%
Recyclable Paper 1% <0.5% 0.50%

People putting electronics into the garbage is still a significant issue in our region, even with the easy access to Return-It Centres throughout Metro Vancouver. I wonder if we need to charge a deposit, like for bottles and cans, so people will be more likely to recycle and not throw out end-of-life electronics.

What shocked me was the amount of cardboard that ends up in the garbage, considering how universally easy it is to recycle that material.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has a third party reviewing its disposal ban program to provide recommendations to improve the program to encourage more waste reduction and increased recycling. I look forward to seeing the recommendations.

For more information, please read the July 15th Zero Waste Committee Agenda.

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