The City of Victoria is continuing its work to reduce the amount of material its residents and businesses contribute to the landfill.
Through its Zero Waste Victoria program, it aims to lower the amount of solid waste sent to the dump at Hartland by 50 per cent by the year 2040. Items such as as single-use plastics, construction and demolition waste, household and commercial garbage and compostable items not put in green bins are being targeted for a reduction.
Victoria council recently approved a transitional plan to accomplish the waste reduction goals.
“Even pre-pandemic as a community we were throwing over 13,000 paper cups per day into public garbage cans,” said Mayor Lisa Helps in a release, calling the plan “just the tip of the iceberg.”
In Victoria alone, more than 120 tonnes of materials are disposed daily, for eventual placement in the landfill. Eliminating waste and “upcycling” usable resources is a short- and long-term solution to reducing pollution and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, say city staff.
As part of the planning and engagement process for Zero Waste Victoria, city staff consulted dozens of people, from business owners to waste haulers to representatives from environmental organizations.
A particular challenge to be faced is what to do with discarded construction materials, which make up nearly 40 per cent of the city’s total waste sent to the landfill.
“There is a huge loss of invaluable old-growth lumber, building materials and history when we demolish buildings and treat these materials as waste instead of resources,” said Adam Corneil, CEO of Unbuilders, a company that deconstructs houses and resells the materials. “It’s not waste, it’s just wasted.”
Among the top priorities of Zero Waste Victoria will be the reduction and salvage of construction waste, the implementation of requirements for source separation at multifamily and commercial properties, and the introduction of new single-use item reduction bylaws.
As a result of council direction to staff in 2019, new public zero waste stations were designed, fabricated and installed this year. Expansion of the bin program is proposed for future years.
Staff compiled some fast facts about the city’s waste:
For more about the city’s Zero Waste Victoria, visit victoria.ca.