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Deconstructing Vancouver’s Green Demolition Bylaw

Home owners and property developers in the city of Vancouver will follow new demolition waste recycling requirements for houses built before 1940 thanks to the Green Demolition Bylaw which went into effect on September 1, 2014. From now on, a minimum of 75% of the demolition waste from these older homes will be recycled; and that number increases to 90% for character houses from the same era.

We had the opportunity to interview Senior Sustainability Specialist Hugo Haley from the City of Vancouver to find out more about the Green Demolition Bylaw and what it means for home owners and developers. Here’s what he was able to share with us:

Q:  What led the City of Vancouver to establish these new recycling requirements for pre-1940’s houses?

demolition

Traditional demolition sends tonnes of waste to our landfills.

A: Metro Vancouver’s regional solid waste plan requires all municipalities to do more to encourage recycling of construction and demolition waste. Also, the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan’s Zero Waste goal is to reduce the amount of solid waste disposed to landfill by 50% by 2020. To achieve this goal, the City intends to improve demolition waste recycling performance, and put in place policies to achieve 50,000 tonnes additional recycling from the demolition and construction waste sector.

Q: What is the difference between a pre-1940’s home to one that was built later that prompted this policy? Will newer home demolitions become subject to similar recycling requirements in the future?

A: Homes built before 1940 often have valuable architectural features … built with old growth timber and other valuable materials. The City would like to discourage older character homes from being demolished … if they are going to be demolished, the City wants to ensure that a high percentage of demolition materials are reused or recycled. In the future, the City would like to include recycling requirements for all ages classes of homes to make sure valuable and usable materials are kept out of the landfill.

Q: What is “deconstruction” and why is it being used to demolish these older homes?

A: Deconstruction is an alternative to traditional demolition. Deconstruction is a more systematic and careful approach to taking apart the house where more of the materials are kept intact and can then be separated for reuse and recycling.

deconstruction

Deconstruction techniques allow higher recycling rates.

Q: Is this new bylaw unique in Metro Vancouver, perhaps even in North America?

A: These requirements are not unique in North America. There are numerous municipalities in the United States that require demolition waste recycling, with California’s requirements applying state wide. Cities with similar policies include Chicago, Seattle, San Fransicso and Boulder. In Metro Vancouver, the city of Port Moody has such a policy.

Q: Do you have any relevant statistics you can share including how many demolitions and how much material you think will be diverted from the landfill each year?

A: There are about 1,000 homes demolished in the city of Vancouver every year. About 350 of those are from the pre-1940 era and subject to the new requirements. We expect about 12,000 tonnes of additional reuse and recycling to be achieved in the first year … This amount will increase as the requirements extend to more homes.

Green Coast Rubbish President & CEO Eamonn Duignan wrote a letter to Council in support of the new bylaw saying “we whole heartily support this policy initiative … far too often we see reusable or recyclable material landfilled, simply because there is no regulatory framework in place.”

Green Coast Rubbish specializes in demolition and deconstruction services.

If you are considering the deconstruction of a pre-1940’s home, here are some helpful links for more information:

Pacific Carpet Recycling

We love to work closely with green conscious businesses who care as much the environment as we do. That’s why we’re really excited to have Pacific Carpet Recycling as a partner. They are the only carpet and underlay recycler in Vancouver, and they’re doing great work around the Lower Mainland.

Nothing but carpet from floor to ceiling. Green Coast parked at the Pacific Carpet Recycling warehouse.

Carpet is something that most people take for granted; not really giving it much thought until they are looking to renovate a space. But the amount of waste created from carpet being thrown into our landfills is mindblowing — as much as 80 million lbs are thrown into garbage dumps in Metro Vancouver alone! Even worse, it can take as long as 50 years for it to break down once it’s in there. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Being a petroleum-based product, many types of carpet and underlay are recyclable, and can be made into new flooring, clothing, furniture, auto parts, and other items we use on a daily basis.

Peter Cox the man behind Pacific Coast Recycling. Nothing but smile and carpet!

In recent years, PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) carpet has gained popularity, because it’s manufactured using recycled pop bottles. In theory, this sounds like an excellent green alternative, but at the present time there are no effective means to recycle carpet once it is made from this material. If you are looking for the most environmentally mindful flooring, PCR suggests opting for Nylon carpeting instead, which is completely recyclable.

Though Pacific Carpet Recycling does not deal directly with the consumer public, Green Coast Rubbish has partnered exclusively with them, allowing us to remove the carpet from your home or business (and any other waste that you might need hauled away) and deliver it to PCR on your behalf. If you have any questions about recycling carpet, or the work we do at Green Coast Rubbish, please never hesitate to contact us.

Disposal Ban of Organics in Metro Vancouver

Vancouver continues to move toward its goal of becoming the Greenest City by 2020. By imagining solutions and opportunities that can help residents and businesses to more effectively deal with household waste, they get closer every year. It’s estimated that nearly 35-40% of everything that we throw away is food waste; if diverted into a composting system, this adds up to a substantial amount kept out of our landfills. Which is why, starting in 2015, Metro Vancouver will be instating a ban on disposing organics and food waste into regular garbage bins.

There are huge community and environmental benefits to composting. As the food waste breaks down through natural processes, it can create valuable fertilizers that can help to enrich the soil with potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. It reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions and lengthens the life of our existing landfills, saving valuable space and local resources.

For some eye-opening stats on the amount of organic waste produced every day, as well for solutions on how to responsibly dispose of compastable waste visit our past blog Getting Serious About Organic Waste Reduction.  If you are interested  to learn more about the process that your organic waste goes through when it is processed you can check-out Part 2 of our Organic Waste Reduction blog.

Some things that can go into the compost bin:

  • Fruit & vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells, dairy
  • Meat & fish bones
  • Teabags
  • Coffee filters & grounds
  • Breads, pasta, rice
  • Food soiled paper products (pizza boxes, napkins, cardboard egg cartons)
  • Grass, leaves, weeds, plants
  • Cooked food & grease

Some prohibited items:

  • Any type of plastic (including compostable/biodegradable plastic bags)
  • Rocks, soil
  • Diapers
  • Animal waste
  • Wood products & lumber
  • Branches bigger than 10 cm (4″)  in diameter, and more than 0.5m (1.6ft) in length

These developments are very much in-line with the ideology of Green Coast Rubbish. We’ve seen the evidence firsthand of how much these compostable items can add up – in 2013 alone, we diverted 30.39 tonnes of organic material! By actively working together toward creating composting solutions with Metro Vancouver, we can all contribute to the success of this important program in our communities.

For more information about composting and the upcoming ban on organics, check out the Metro Vancouver website, and the City of Vancouver’s Green Bin Program.

Drywall Recycling

Drywall (also known as gypsum, gyprock or sheetrock) is a highly recyclable and widely used construction material that is originally derived from the common mineral gypsum. A unique characteristic of drywall is that it can be essentially recycled forever with no degradation to the material. Old and discarded drywall can be ground up, turned into a paste and repressed into new panels.

Originally developed in the early 1900’s, it became popular as a lightweight and more convenient alternative to traditional materials of lath and plaster, which were typically used at the time.

toxic-drywall-china-537x356

Today drywall can be found throughout the world, and it is typically used when constructing interior walls and ceilings. Though drywall is 100% recyclable, if it’s not disposed of properly, it can have damaging effects on the environment — including being harmful marine life if is dumped into our waterways, or allowed to come in contact with storm drains. It also has the potential to clog pipes or block water flow in those areas, so disposing drywall in environmentally conscious ways is important.

During 2013, Green Coast Rubbish assisted our clients in the Lower Mainland recycle over 53 tonnes of drywall — which is an increase of nearly 60% over 2012. We’ve helped haul drywall and construction waste from residential, commercial, construction and demolition properties throughout the Greater Vancouver area.

After removing the drywall, we work with New West Gypsum Recycling Ltd., who are the world leaders in the safe recycling of these materials. Since the inception of their company in 1985, their facilities have processed more than 4.5 million tonnes of gypsum! Their process involves separating the various components of the sheets, and then grinding the filtered plaster, which is eventually reincorporated into the manufacturing of new drywall panels.

We believe that small steps add up to big improvements. We’re always looking for new ways to keep recyclable materials out of our landfills, and working in conjunction with other like-minded businesses who have similar environmental mandates.

 

2013 BBB Torch Awards Winner: Green Coast Rubbish

We are thrilled to announce that Green Coast Rubbish has been named the winner of the Better Business Bureau’s 2013 Torch Awards in the ‘Green’ category! This is such a big honor for us, and we’re stoked to have been recognized in a category that has previously awarded the distinction to hugely impactful businesses such as: The David Suzuki Foundation, LuluLemon, BC Association of Farmer’s Markets, SPUD!, and LunaPads International. We are thankful and humbled, and it reiterates our mandate toward offering the highest level of waste removal and recycling services for customers around the North Shore and the Lower Mainland.

But we couldn’t do it alone. Working toward a cleaner future is a collaborative effort, and we absolutely could not have done it without the generous support of our local clients, partners, and associations within our community.

Since Day 1, GCR has been driven by our desire to preserve and protect our beautiful surroundings here in BC, and each year that commitment deepens. Whenever possible, we divert and donate materials to local non-profit organizations that can put them to good use (over 9 tonnes of goods & material in total, this past year alone). Since 2010, we’ve kept over 522 tons of waste materials away from our local landfills by recycling or diverting them (a 76% diversion rate), with our ultimate goal being a 100% diversion by 2020. And while our business is built upon helping clients effectively manage their waste, we also believe in consciously working toward bettering our own environmental footprint on a daily basis. In 2012, we managed to reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by 7.73%. We can all contribute to a greener future, and the smallest actions can make a notable impact on the larger environmental picture.

The BBB Torch Awards! Source: BBB Facebook Album http://on.fb.me/1b6kIEf

From our entire team at Green Coast Rubbish, we want to thank you for your continued support of our business. By being mindful, and working to recycle, reduce, reuse, and rethink — the future is looking better and brighter—one step at a time.

Paint Removal and Recycling

Often the easiest way to brighten and freshen up your space is to add a coat of paint. While it can work wonders to liven up your home or office, sometimes we find ourselves with an excess left-over, and are unsure of where/how to safely dispose of it. The BC Product Care Association website suggests always keeping in mind the BUD rule when purchasing materials:

  • B – Buy only the amount you need.
  • U – Use all the paint you buy.
  • D – Dispose of any leftover paint safely.

To cut down on waste, it’s a good idea to calculate how much you’ll need initially for your project before you begin. Most paint retailers are happy to help estimate the amount you will require, which will save money and minimize paint wastage. But regardless of how closely you estimate, often you’re still left with at least a little bit remaining. If you can’t re-purpose the paint for use in future touch-ups or other projects (in the case of lighter colours, they can sometimes be used as primers), there are environmentally mindful ways of disposing of it.

Green Coast Rubbish often helps our clients deal with removing excess materials such as paint, stain, and shellac, and diverts them to depots who specialize in their safe processing. In 2012 alone, GCR helped recycle more than 2438 litres! Many of the facilities around the Lower Mainland even offer programs where they simply give the paint away free to those who can make use of it (as long as the remaining product is properly sealed and still labeled). By being inventive about ways that we can re-purpose paint, we can make our spaces and communities more beautiful, while still protecting the earth in the process.

For more information about the types of products that can be recycled, check out the BC Product Care website. If you have questions about the types of products and waste Green Coast Rubbish can handle on behalf of your home or your business – never hesitate to drop us a line.

Foam Only & Styrofoam Recycling

The use of Styrofoam in packaging has created an alarming amount of waste in our landfills over the past few decades. Styrofoam or EPE (expanded polystyrene) is comprised of 98% air, and is non-biodegradable—which means that it will not break down on its own for a tremendous length of time. We often work with commercial clients who deal with an immense amount of Styrofoam, with no idea of where to safely dispose of it. Every 2-3 months, Green Coast Rubbish helps our customers recycle between 50-90 yards of Styrofoam by working in conjunction with another environmentally-minded local business, Foam Only.

By compressing the EPE, Foam Only can transform this material so it can be eventually be up-cycled and used for consumer items such as picture frames and door mouldings. Foam Only’s process of breaking down the EPE is fascinating. Check out the video:

We routinely work with a number of commercial clients to address their EPE disposal and logistical needs. In a recent project, we helped to recycle nearly 90 yards of Styrofoam in a single afternoon.

When compressed, the 90 yards of Styrofoam ends up being condensed into a single solid block. Pretty amazing.

One of these blocks repressents the 90 yards of foam we recycled

By building and maintaining this important partnership with Foam Only, we assist our clients in properly disposing of this harmful waste in more environmentally viable ways.

Electronics Recycling and E-Waste

We live in a pretty amazing time. It seems every week, an announcement for some new technology changes the face of televisions, computers, or cell phones. Electronics are getting smaller (or in the case of TV’s, BIGGER), faster, and more equipped to handle all the tasks in our busy lives. But it comes at a cost. With a built-in obsolesce period for most gadgets being less than 2 years, people are finding themselves with basements and attics full of old TVs, printers, and VCR’s (remember those?). It all adds up to a huge amount of waste here in Canada each year.

It seems that many people are just unsure of what to do with it all. This fascinating (and somewhat alarming) StatsCan website shows the percentage of Canadians who have unwanted electronics in their households… in British Columbia, up to 31% of homes have unused televisions in their homes! Just wander down any alley in the Vancouver, and it’s likely that you’ll see abandoned electronics left beside dumpsters. Unfortunately, if they are not properly disposed of, these devices can get thrown into landfills, or sent to developing countries where they are dismantled for metal or parts; oftentimes without safety equipment. If handled improperly, the individuals doing it can be exposed to dangerous substances such as mercury, lead, and chromium—all known to be extremely toxic to humans, animals, and the environment.

We can help. Whether it’s a massive TV, old CRT monitor, or burnt out computer tower; whatever you have, we can take care of it for you. Quickly, easily and in the most environmentally conscious way possible. In 2012 alone, Green Coast Rubbish recycled 5.1 tonnes of electronics, and nearly 3 tonnes of TV’s. (Which, for those who are curious, equals roughly the same weight as an African Elephant).

After pickup, we work together with Encorp, a federally incorporated, not-for-profit association who is committed to recycling within our communities. They ensure that e-waste is properly processed, with all usable components diverted, and any remaining parts disposed of in safe and ethical ways.

You have a lot on your mind. Having these items collecting dust in your home creates both physical and mental clutter in your life. With a single call, we can handle it, and you can get back to focusing on what’s most important.