Garbage is packed down at the Vancouver Landfill in Delta

Metro Vancouver recycling rate hits 60 per cent

70 per cent target elusive, region forges ahead with new garbage disposal bans despite uncertainty

Metro Vancouver’s recycling rate climbed to 60 per cent in 2013, up from 58 per cent a year earlier, but it remains well short of a 70 per cent target the regional district is committed to reaching next year.

The improvement last year came almost entirely from a four per cent increase in the single family residential recycling rate, which Metro officials attribute to the move to mandatory organic food waste pickup for those homes and a decrease in the frequency of garbage pickup to just biweekly in Surrey and Vancouver.

“We’ve achieved a lot but there’s still a long way to go,” Metro solid waste manager Paul Henderson said.

Improved recycling of at least 70 per cent is a key assumption Metro has made in estimating it must build a new waste-to-energy plant capable of handling 370,000 tonnes per year of garbage that the region would no longer truck to the Cache Creek landfill.

A higher aspirational target of 80 per cent diversion by 2020 would reduce but not eliminate the need for a potential second incinerator.

Recycling diversion rates for multi-family residential and industrial/commercial were virtually unchanged, at 28 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.

Officials hope those categories improve next year.

A broadened ban on the dumping of organics – which make up a big slice of the waste stream – takes effect Jan. 1, extending mandatory food waste pickup to major business generators such as restaurants, grocers and other food handlers.

A ban on the disposal of clean wood is also going ahead, which would target the demolition and construction sector, where there’s already a high recycling rate of 76 per cent.

Henderson said there may also be modest gains as a result of some additional types of containers now being collected curbside by Multi Material BC, which launched in the spring.

As with other disposal bans imposed by Metro, the new ones will be policed by inspectors at transfer stations.

Inspectors will issue warnings at first, but by mid-2015 they’ll levy a 50 per cent surcharge on any load containing too much organic waste. The cost of fines is expected to spur waste haulers to in turn police their customers.

The maximum proportion of organic waste in a load without incurring a surcharge will start at 25 per cent next year before dropping to 10 per cent in 2016 and five per cent in 2017.

The phased approach is expected to target the biggest food waste generators first and then gradually capture more businesses, pressing them to comply.

A long list of materials are already banned, from paper and cardboard, to electronics and mattresses.

But a Metro report warns all of the region’s disposal bans will “become ineffective” if the provincial government doesn’t approve Bylaw 280.

The waste-flow bylaw would outlaw commercial haulers from sending garbage out of the region – usually first to Abbotsford and then south to U.S. landfills – thereby evading Metro’s higher tipping fees and its disposal bans.

The bylaw was passed by Metro’s board a year ago and is still awaiting Environment Minister Mary Polak’s decision, amid intense lobbying from haulers who oppose it.

Many critics claim the regulation aims to justify a new incinerator by penning up garbage in the region to feed it, but Metro officials insist the bylaw is essential or its waste servics will be underfunded and steady improvements in recycling will be unwound.

Henderson has been warning for more than a year that an initial trickle of waste flowing out of the region threatens to turn into a flood.

Metro now estimates 100,000 tonnes of garbage – about 20 per cent of all commercially collected waste – will exit the region via Abbotsford this year, twice as much as did in 2012.

The regional district is expected to increase its tipping fee by $1 to $109 per tonne next year.

In contrast, haulers can dump in Abbotsford for an estimated $70 a tonne, according to Metro, creating a powerful incentive to send garbage loads out of the region.

The lost tipping fees are also beginning to add up – they’re expected to total $11 million in lost revenue for Metro this year.

If Bylaw 280 isn’t approved, Metro forecasts a $6 million deficit in its waste management budget next year on an assumed surge in haulers moving to take advantage of lower costs and fewer restrictions.

Metro’s fixed costs of operating transfer stations and its Burnaby incinerator make it difficult to reduce spending.

Nor, a staff report indicates, is it an option to simply crank up tipping fees to make up any shortfall.

“Metro Vancouver cannot adjust the tipping fee beyond an inflationary adjustment or an additional competitive advantage will be created for companies hauling garbage to Abbotsford, further increasing the rate of increase of commercial/institutional waste being hauled outside the Metro Vancouver system.”

Instead, the regional district would be forced to dip into its reserves, Henderson said.

METRO RECYCLING | Create Infographics

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants fall to Royals 4-2 in Victoria Saturday night

Second loss in as many days for G-Men, who are back home in Langley today to take on the Cougars.

Langley Gators take Tsumura provincial basketball championships

Walnut Grove outscored their foes by 30 points per game

Spreading Christmas cheer around Aldergrove

Easing the pains and difficulties of hard times is ‘reason for the season’

VIDEO: why the founder of Kimz Angels feels it’s “sad” the charitable group has grown

Will be accepting donations all day Sunday at the IGA in Murrayville

120 turn up for Aldergrove blood clinic

More volunteer help welcomed by Canadian Blood Services

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

Most Read