Metro Vancouver is responsible for managing the garbage produced by residents and businesses in the Lower Mainland. Metro Vancouver’s sustainability principles provide guidance for the regional solid waste plan, which was approved by the Province in 2011. For Metro Vancouver, sustainability means tying together environmental, social and economic interests. For managing solid waste this translates into:
- A waste reduction hierarchy: make less, reuse, recycle everything possible, recover energy from what’s disposed, and manage the residuals
- Manage as much of our waste as possible within the Lower Mainland, where we make it
- Protect the receiving environment (air, land and water)
- Influence individual and collective behaviour to avoid generating unnecessary waste
- Seek technologies which recover and recycle materials and recover energy
- Invest in infrastructure that will be resilient, adaptable to change and lessen our dependence on non-renewable energy sources.
The Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan includes goals such as reducing the waste we each generate, and aspiring to recycle 80% of the region’s waste. Currently, about 65% of our garbage is recycled.
Within a wide range of activities and targeted materials required to reach these goals, there are three priority areas where recycling can be improved; wood, food and in programs for multi-family residences. Wood and food represent over a third of what goes to landfill in this region each year, and there are real and accessible opportunities to reduce the volumes. As the region densifies multi-family housing is expanding quickly (about 40% of the housing in this region is now multi-family), and it tends to demonstrate lower recycling rates.