Thursday, February 23, 2023

Recycling and Garbage: More Work to be Done to Reduce Waste

The Metro Vancouver Regional District has recently released its annual summary report for solid waste management. The report includes data up to the year 2021.

The total amount of solid waste diverted from ending up in a landfill or incinerated is slowly declining in absolute terms and per capita even as our population grows.

Total waste generation, disposal and recycling rates per capita. Select the chart to enlarge.

While recycling is great, it is even better not to generate waste in the first place. The per capita solid waste generation rate has been steady for nearly a decade. Federal and provincial regulations, grants, and incentives are likely required to continue to reduce the amount of packaging to reduce the amount of waste generated. In the construction sector, we must promote and incentivize new ways of reusing construction material from demolition.

The following table shows solid waste that is deposed or recycled by sector.

Metro Vancouver recycling and disposal by sector. Select the table to enlarge.

Mulit-family (attached housing) has the lowest recycling rate. Most people in Metro Vancouver live in attached housing, such as apartments and townhouses, so we may have to rethink how we manage waste from these property types. Getting attached housing to the detached housing recycling rate would significantly reduce waste going to landfills or incinerated.

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