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Waste Diversion and Recycling Iniatitives in Metro Vancouver

Did you know that Canada produces more solid waste than almost any other country in the world?  Metro Vancouver residents alone produce in excess of 3 million tonnes of solid waste each year, and currently only about 55% of this waste is recycled, diverted, composted, or recovered for waste energy. This figure will certainly change when Metro Vancouver launches its new organic waste initiative next year, and the Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association’s (CESA) actions its Small Appliance Recycling Program in early Spring of 2011. These new initiatives will see recycle and waste diversion rates increase in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

Metro Vancouver’s late in coming, but well intentioned plan of banning compostable kitchen scraps from entering our waste stream by 2012 is much needed in order to reach Metro Vancouver’s goal of achieving a 70 % recycle rate by 2015 with an end goal  of reaching 80%  by 2020, as outlined in Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste challenge. This plan could see some 265,000 tonnes of organics diverted from our landfill in one year alone.

The Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association’s (CESA) Small Appliance Recycling Program, launching April 1st of this year, will not only increase Metro Vancouver’s recycle and waste diversion rates, but also give British Columbians a viable option for safely and responsibly discarding of small appliances, thus preventing these materials from entering our landfills.

Much like Encorp’s Return-it Electronics Recycling Program, which by 2010 had already collected and recycled over 14 million kilos of end-of-life electronics, CESA’s program will process small appliances in a responsible manner. Program safeguards will be put in place to ensure that none of the materials will be exported to third-world countries for processing. The electronics collected will be broken into their component parts and the various materials, such as metal, plastic, and glass, will be sorted, sold into recycling markets, or reused in manufacturing processes.

Much like the above mention programs and initiatives, Call2Recycle’s battery and cell phone recycling program keeps toxic materials from entering our waste stream. Since July 1st of 2010, Call2Recycle has expanded its collection and recycling program in BC to include all household batteries.  Since then, more than 96,000 kilos of primary batteries and 43,000 kilos of rechargeable batteries were collected throughout British Columbia-which equates to an overall collection increase of nearly 420% for 2010.

These are a just few examples of what I believe is a societal shift in attitude from waste as a problem to waste as a resource. A heightened public awareness, made possible by recycling programs and community-based strategies, are an encouraging step towards creating an increasingly sustainable future for the residents of Britisih Columbia, and are sure to play a critical role in Metro Vancouver’s efforts to reach its Zero Waste targets. These programs and initiatives are also vitally important to the success of Green Coast Rubbish and our continued efforts to deliver sustainable waste diversion and recycling services.

Sources: Canadian Electrical Stewardship AssociationCall2Recycle CanadaEncorp Pacific, Talk Green VancouverThe Vancouver Sun, Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Challenge

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