CRD works on new solid waste plan

Garbage reduction targeted as landfill nears capacity

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Capital Regional District staff were on Salt Spring Thursday to gather public feedback on updating a solid waste management plan for the region.

The plan contains 15 proposed strategies divided into three categories: reduce and reuse, recycling and recovery, and residuals management. Although one of the strategies is to increase capacity at Hartland Landfill so it can be used up to the year 2100, keeping things out of the facility in the first place is a priority.

“We are more aware of the need to reduce our use of single-use items, especially plastics. Capital region residents actively participate in blue box recycling and diversion programs for organic matter like food scraps and yard waste,” public engagement materials read. “At the same time, we still produce a lot of garbage.”

Currently, about 140,000 tonnes of garbage is sent to Hartland each year. A medium-term goal is to reduce garbage by at least one third by 2030, from the current 380 kg per person per year to 250 kg.

“The easiest way to reduce waste is to avoid purchasing or creating what we don’t need,” the engagement material observes. Proper diversion of items that don’t need to go to the landfill and can be remade or reused is the next best step.

An analysis of the Hartland waste stream shows that much of the material going into the landfill could be dealt with differently. Despite a ban on kitchen scraps that started in January 2015, a study of the waste stream in 2016 showed organics accounted for 21 per cent. Wood and wood products made up 17 per cent, and another 15.4 per cent stemmed from paper and paper products. The next highest portion came from plastics, at 14 per cent.

Members of the public who attended Thursday’s open house session were concerned with advancing more diversion options locally. Questions directed at staff centred around the types of recycling available, extending producer responsibility programs, where material goes after it leaves the island and how to facilitate food waste collection and composting.

In regard to a question about why the CRD banned kitchen scraps without providing a way to deal with organics, Wendy Dunn, program coordinator with the CRD’s environmental resource management branch, explained that a processing facility had existed in the regional district when the rule first went into place. It has since shut down, but the CRD is now investigating the potential for establishing an organics processing facility at Hartland.

Dunn said people who wanted to see smaller facilities outside the regional district core, like on Salt Spring, should put that in writing on the feedback forms provided at the open house or through the online survey (which was closed on Dec. 1).

As for items such as hard plastic not related to packaging, Dunn said more and more producers are being folded into the responsibility program. Those that make items that are harder to recycle, such as multi-laminate plastic packaging, are required to pay more into the program than those with easy-to-process items such as soup tins.

“You and I as consumers can exercise our consumer power by what we choose off the shelves, too,” Dunn added. “We have some power to do that.”

Consumers can find out what happens to their recycled material through the BC Recycling website.

More information on the CRD’s solid waste management planning can be found at https://www.crd.bc.ca/project/management-plan.

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