By Tera Grady, Supervisor of Solid Waste Management
The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is in the process up updating its Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). This ten-year SWMP outlines how waste and recyclables will be managed, with the goal of reducing the amount of waste disposed of in landfills. The Province tasks Regional Districts with waste reduction and measures progress with annual waste per person metrics, which include all waste landfilled (household, demolition, and commercial) for the year across the Regional District’s population. In 2011, the CRD’s per person waste generation was 775 kilograms (kg) per year. After implementing changes recommended in the 2013 SWMP, such as increasing diversion for concrete, wood waste, and other recyclable items, per person waste generation went down to 657 kg per year. While we are moving in the right direction, we are still above the 2019 provincial annual average of 500 kg per person, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy’s per person annual target of less than 350 kg per year.
In June 2021, through the Let’s Talk Less Trash public consultation, we received feedback on what is working and what could be improved for solid waste systems. The CRD’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee used the feedback to identify eight proposed solid waste initiatives to investigate. Each initiative is being assessed to determine potential waste reduction, costs, environmental impacts, and feasibility so residents can be consulted later this year (2022) to provide comments.
The vision for Diversion/Reuse Centres considers providing drop off and management of multiple waste types including commercial recyclables, food waste, reusable construction and demolition materials, reusable household items, clothing, furniture, and recyclables. The scope considers incorporation of space for repair/upcycling opportunities and storage for reusable items such as furniture. Feasibility hinges on accessing capital cost funding and support from the CRD’s member municipalities.
Multi-unit Residential Building (MURB) Recycling
MURB recycling for packaging and paper products for apartment buildings and condominiums could be established within the existing Recycle BC stewardship program. CRD’s member municipalities could use bylaws to ensure that all MURB property owners provide collection systems. Education, promotion, and auditing are key components for successful MURB recycling programs.
Aside from corrugated cardboard, office paper, deposit beverage containers, and scrap metal, there is limited access to business recycling in the Cariboo. The provincial government is studying the issue and exploring possible solutions but does not yet have a timeline set for finalizing a solution. If commercial recyclables, which account for twenty percent of the CRD’s household waste, are going to be diverted from landfills we first need to determine how much could feasibly be collected and the actual costs for recycling.
Food Waste Diversion
An increasing number of BC communities are implementing landfill disposal bans for organics, providing food waste collection services, and operating compost facilities. These initiatives are fuelled by the reality that landfills account for twenty-three percent of Canada’s methane emissions, and organic waste generates the majority of landfill leachate. We have many dedicated backyard composters in the Cariboo, but household waste still contains about thirty percent compostable organics. Collecting compostable organics in the Cariboo could be challenging, as currently only thirty-two percent of CRD residents have curbside collection.
Upgrades to Rural Sites
There are twenty rural, non-controlled refuse sites in the CRD. None have power and two currently have cell service. Both traditional and reliable/effective solar power supply are costly. About nine percent of the CRD’s waste is generated from the twenty facilities combined. A few of these sites are being considered for transition to controlled facilities.
Most of BC’s population has a user-pay system to help fund waste disposal, meaning that all waste destined for the landfill is charged for upon drop off, but recyclables are accepted free of charge. This approach provides an incentive for residents to reduce the waste they generate and to recycle. User-pay generally works best at higher volume-controlled sites, but can work at smaller rural controlled facilities, especially if cell service is available or if a punch card system is used.
Curbside Garbage Collection for Some Rural Areas
Many of the CRD ‘fringe’ communities directly adjacent to municipal boundaries have sufficient housing density and total population to justify curbside garbage collection services. Services would be paid for through a CRD “utility” charged to households within service areas. The new garbage service would hinge on participation by Recycle BC to also add curbside recycling collection. Curbside service to these residents would also increase the feasibility of organics diversion in the future with the possibility of curbside organics collection.
Landfill Disposal Bans
Banning the disposal of all recyclables or organics with accessible diversion options is a proven method of reducing what goes to landfill, but it requires extra staff and regular monitoring of waste disposal. Some jurisdictions have implemented the use of clear garbage bags to encourage recycling and facilitate inspections.
Following public consultation on all eight potential initiatives above, a draft Solid Waste Management Plan, with vetted and finalized initiatives, will be issued for public review and comment. The final draft of the SWMP must be approved by the CRD Board before it is submitted to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for review and approval.
We welcome your ongoing feedback. For more information on the SWMP update or to contact us, visit cariboord.ca/swmp.