For all that Vancouver has done in the past two decades, did you know Vancouver has a strong, zero-waste commitment? The city strongly supports and implements green policies such as recycling, organics composting, and most recent, their zero waste action plan. In light of the new zero waste plan, you may ask, what does it all mean? In context, when we live and stay in a city for a long time, we may not realize how far our cities have evolved over the years. Compared to other cities in the world, we may just be sustainability champions.
Who knew, right?
Here’s Vancouver’s track record for all things sustainable.
- The city has launched sustainable green programs to meet the 2020 Greenest City Action Plan
- There’s been a focus on improving waste recycling and supporting the industry
- The city’s invested in green spaces, which beautify local neighbourhoods and corridors
- The city’s circular economy supports many livelihoods, especially artisans and makers
Let’s take a look at the waste and recycling component
Diving deeper into the waste and recycling initiatives, it’s clear that Vancouver has come a long way.
Just ten years ago, over 500,000 tonnes of solid waste ended up in landfills. Five years later, the city has diverted over 27% of that waste.
The Vancouver Zero Waste Centre has reopened, allowing residents take their old items in to be diverted from landfills.
It’s also becoming easier to sort and compost your organics. Cities like Vancouver boast an effective organic waste sorting system, found in homes and commercial venues like shopping centres.
Finally, the city’s phasing in a single-use plastic ban, reducing the amount of single-use plastics entering landfills.
Shifting from Recycling to Recovery
These days, more people are paying attention to the benefits of recovering materials instead of recycling. We can reuse recovered materials as-is, for a variety of cases. We can make new products and crafts all the time out of recovered materials. Recovering materials doesn’t have to compromise on quality. In fact, items and materials made out of recovered materials can be even more durable.
Improving Construction Waste Recovery
One sector that has seen improvements in waste recovery is the construction industry. In Vancouver, construction waste amounts to over 40% of wood dumped in landfills. Other building materials used to be difficult to recycle. However, there has been considerable improvements in recent years. Companies such as Sea To Sky Removal change the construction waste landscape.
Improving E-Waste Recovery
Since 2015, residents and businesses have diverted over 11,000 devices from Vancouver landfills. Private electronic recyclers make it easier for residents to drop-off their old laptops and phones. Organizations such as Free Geek provide services too, that help residents avoid dumping their items in landfills. Finally, residents have access to resources such as Waste Wizard and Metro Vancouver Recycles. These applications provide information on where they can take specific items for recycling, including their electronics. Making recycling more accessible for residents directly contribute to the lower landfill rates.
Conclusion: What the Greenest City Action Plan Tells Us
The Action Plan tells us is that if we set bold long-term goals, we can achieve them. Vancouver has set and met a considerable number of their Greenest City Action Plan goals. Now, as 2020 approaches, the city is now looking forward again.
This time, another twenty years.
Their 2040 Zero Waste Plan is bold, immediate, and necessary.
Priorities in this plan include:
- Eliminating the disposal of solid waste to landfill by 2040
- Support objectives that avoid the generation of waste
- Prioritize material reuse (sharing, repairing, recycling)
- Grow the circular economy in Vancouver
- Develop a zero waste culture (supporting businesses & individuals)
- Reduce GHG emissions
- Reduce Vancouver’s ecological footprint
The optimist in us believe that, after Vancouver’s successful 2020 Action Plan, we can achieve the 2040 objectives. During this shift, we also acknowledge that we’ll be moving further towards recovery. We’ll be reducing consumption. We’ll be avoiding needless waste. We’ll be recovering the city and the environment. We’d be recovering a future for all in the time of climate change.
Let’s do this, Vancouver!
Canadian Mattress Recycling is a 100% locally-owned BC company with a team of employees dedicated to customer service and environmental preservation through recycling. We are located in the middle of Metro Vancouver on Annacis Island on Delta, BC and serve the entire Lower Mainland region and beyond. We are winners of the Green Business of the Year in 2016 by the Delta Chamber of Commerce.