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REPORT: B.C. leads efforts to reduce, recycle waste, but targets remain elusive (updated*)

February 5, 2019, Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – British Columbians are among the best in Canada at reducing solid waste and diverting materials to recycling and compost facilities, according to a new Vancity report.

But a detailed analysis of municipal, provincial and national data reveals that while B.C. industries, businesses and individuals are taking steps to curtail their production of waste, local reduction, compost and recycling targets aren’t on track and will likely be missed.

State of Waste: How B.C. compares in the war on trash also found:

  • B.C. produced 549 kilograms of garbage per person in 2016, which is 30 per cent less than the national average but almost 60 per cent more than a province-wide target for the year 2020.
  • B.C. diverted 40 per cent of its solid municipal waste from landfill and incineration to recycling and compost facilities, more than all other Canadian provinces except Nova Scotia, but well behind a common regional and municipal target of 80 per cent for the year 2020.
  • Spoiled and uneaten food – most of which could be diverted as compost – represents about 25 per cent of all residential garbage that is either thrown into B.C. landfills or is incinerated.
  • Half of all waste diverted in Metro Vancouver in 2016 came from the demolition, construction and land-clearing sector, with concrete the most common material diverted.
  • Recycling and composting waste reduces incineration and disposal in landfills, but more emphasis is needed on waste avoidance, and on the consequences of unnecessary consumption.

“B.C. is a leader when it comes to waste reduction and diversion, but more strategies are needed to track and improve results,” says Morgan Beall, Vancity’s environmental sustainability portfolio manager. “The province’s capacity to absorb waste is constantly being stretched. We all have a responsibility to eliminate waste.”

Coming to grips with the size of the problem – measuring the amounts of waste generated, disposed and diverted and what can ultimately be avoided – is important as well. It is also difficult, because reporting methods vary by jurisdiction. The report calls on governments at all levels to introduce measures that standardize and make public all waste collection, diversion and disposal data.

Additional information:

2019 Report: State of Waste: How B.C. compares in the war on trash

Backgrounder: Vancity’s leadership in environmental sustainability

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 525,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. With $26.4 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Brent Shearer | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394

*Vancouver restated its garbage/single family residence data after the initial distribution of this news release and report, while garbage/single family residence data initially provided by Richmond has been added to the report. Updates have been made to both documents as a result.