METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s probably no surprise British Columbians are among the best in Canada at keeping waste to a minimum, diverting trash from landfills through recycling and composting.
But it seems most West Coasters need to do a whole lot more to help Metro Vancouver meet some lofty reduction targets by next year.
First the good news — BC puts less solid waste in the landfill than any other province in Canada except Nova Scotia, even though a report from Vancity finds people in BC still produce almost 1,400 kilograms of total waste per person per year. That is equal to the weight of three grand pianos or a mid-sized automobile.
“We are about 30 per cent below the national average,” points out Morgan Beall, Vancity’s environmental sustainability portfolio manager. “But unless we make some dramatic changes, we will miss our [Metro Vancouver] waste disposal targets for 2020.”
According to State of Waste, BC diverted 40 per cent of its solid municipal waste from landfill and incineration to recycling and compost facilities in 2017, well behind a common regional and municipal target of 80 per cent by next year.
The report also reveals that Delta has emerged as Metro Vancouver’s biggest producer of domestic trash, generating 465 kilograms for every single family residence in 2017, while Vancouver more than doubled North Vancouver’s production per single family residence. Residents of Lion’s Bay produce the least amount of solid waste.
The report isn’t perfect. Vancity points out every municipality collects and tracks waste differently. It’s also notable that Surrey, West Vancouver and Richmond didn’t provide data.
“I think this is really about building awareness and getting the data and numbers to educate people about where our waste is going,” says Beall. “This is not about pointing fingers, it’s about trying to get a handle on the situation so we can make improvements.”
Beall believes everyone can make a significant difference in reducing what we throw away.
“For example, spoiled and uneaten food — most of which can be diverted to compost — represents 25 per cent of all residential garbage that is either thrown in BC landfills or incinerated.”
Reducing waste in the first place is also a key part of the solution, according to Beall.
“The easiest and most cost-effective way is to manage waste is to reduce our consumption of unsustainable goods. At Vancity, we are encouraging people to adopt a concept of ‘lighter living’ — being mindful of the goods we buy and considering where they end up.”