Results of Waste Data Analysis in British Columbia vs. other Provinces

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Vancity Credit Union recently published the results of a waste data analysis study it conducted in British Columbia. The results show that B.C. residents dispose of 549 kg of waste per year per resident. The total disposal rate is the second lowest per capita for a province in Canada. Nova Scotia residents generate the least amount of waste on a per capita basis.

The report, entitled State of Waste: How B.C. compares in the war on trash
looked at detailed data from municipal, provincial, and national databases. It concludes that while B.C. industries, businesses, and individuals are taking steps to curtail their production of waste, local reduction, compost and recycling targets aren’t on track and will likely be missed. The report also reveals that Delta has emerged as Metro Vancouver’s biggest producer of domestic trash, generating 465 kilograms for every single family residence in 2017, while Vancouver more than doubled North Vancouver’s production per single family residence.

Most solid waste produced in the region consists of construction debris, uneaten food and soiled paper.

The report also found:

  • B.C. produced 549 kilograms of garbage per person in 2016, which is 30 per cent less than the national average but almost 60 per cent more than a province-wide target for the year 2020.
  • B.C. diverted 40 per cent of its solid municipal waste from landfill and incineration to recycling and compost facilities, more than all other Canadian provinces except Nova Scotia, but well behind a common regional and municipal target of 80 per cent for the year 2020.
  • Spoiled and uneaten food – most of which could be diverted as compost – represents about 25 per cent of all residential garbage that is either thrown into B.C. landfills or is incinerated.
  • Half of all waste diverted in Metro Vancouver in 2016 came from the demolition, construction and land-clearing sector, with concrete the most common material diverted.

“B.C. is a leader when it comes to waste reduction and diversion, but more strategies are needed to track and improve results,” stated Morgan Beall, Vancity’s environmental sustainability portfolio manager, in a press release. “The province’s capacity to absorb waste is constantly being stretched. We all have a responsibility to eliminate waste.”

The report acknowledges that it was difficult to precisely determine the amounts of waste generated, disposed and diverted and what can ultimately be avoided in each municipality and province because reporting methods vary by jurisdiction. The report calls on governments at all levels to introduce measures that standardize and make public all waste collection, diversion and disposal data.

The author of the report, Vancity, is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 525,000 member-owners British Columbia. With $26.4 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Vancity branches divert 88% of their waste from landfill and 49 of 59 branches are net zero waste (no waste is taken to landfill).