We believe the focus of waste management should be on maximizing recycling and material recovery before disposal.
What do we mean by that?
Recycling activity can take place at the source where waste is generated (for example, at the home, business or at institutions like schools) or recyclables can be recovered later – anywhere between the source and the point of final disposal.
How much recyclable material is still found in the waste stream? The illustration below provides the most recent sector-specific recycling rates reported by Metro Vancouver. The material that isn’t recycled is part of the “waste” going to disposal.
Sorting recyclables at the source continues to be a priority and it will continue to be made more convenient as more services and programs are offered. We’ve also learned that doing the right thing isn’t always easy or possible for everyone, across all sectors (as illustrated above), all of the time. There are practical limitations to the diversion that can be achieved through source separation alone. As a result, valuable recyclable material continues to end up in the waste stream, and in our “garbage bags”.
NextUse aims to address this issue with a new facility that would “break open the garbage bag” and employ advanced technology and skilled workers one last chance to recover recyclable material from the waste that Metro Vancouver sends to disposal.
Disposal refers to the final step in the municipal solid waste management process. In BC’s Lower Mainland (the “Metro Vancouver” region), disposal means landfilling or incineration (which requires landfilling of the ash), both of which are outlined as last steps in the provincially-approved Solid Waste Management Plan for Metro Vancouver. The Plan puts priority on recycling, which is where clean, green facilities like NextUse can make significant contributions to the region and its economy.
With only three material recovery facilities all of Metro Vancouver’s “garbage” could be processed to maximize the recovery of recyclables. With the private sector playing this role, this final attempt at recovering recyclables could be implemented with no increase in taxes. These new facilities would create local green jobs, and more potential for spin-off remanufacturing industries in BC that could re-use or transform recovered recyclables into new products.