Regional District of Nanaimo has entered into a deal with Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to conduct industrial, commercial and institutional waste assessments across the RDN region. Pictured here, the old NRE site, circa 2017. (News Bulletin file)

RDN signs deal with Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to conduct waste audits

RDN working on mandatory waste-separation bylaw for industrial, commercial, institutional sectors

With a mandatory waste-separation bylaw in the works, the Regional District of Nanaimo will partner with Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to evaluate waste streams of industry and businesses.

The recycling exchange and Jan Hastings, executive director, presented the project proposal to the RDN in August, and at a Sept. 15 meeting, the board approved a $24,750 contract for the non-profit to conduct up to 15 waste assessments for the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors.

Ben Geselbracht, RDN Nanaimo director and solid waste committee chairperson, told the News Bulletin the bylaw, which he referred to as “ground-breaking,” will mandate the sectors to separate out their different waste streams.

He described the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange’s role in conducting the waste audits.

“They go into one of these types of organizations and they go through their waste stream and they look at what is being thrown out and then that’s the baseline data to understand what type of waste is going to the landfill,” Geselbracht said. “It’ll provide understanding of what type of measures can be put in place to help these organizations set up their system to divert and separate out their organics and their recyclables.”

He said a repertoire of tools and strategies to assist with diverting waste will also be established.

The RDN recently discussed the topic at a meeting with B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman and Geselbracht said he hopes the bylaw is in place by the end of 2021.

“[The RDN] is the first place in B.C. to request these types of authorities and so it does require legislative changes at the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and so right now we’re drafting up the bylaws,” said Geselbracht. “We’ll go through a consultation process that will probably go till April and then the drafted bylaw … will then go to the [ministers] for approval.”

RELATED: RDN working on waste processing deal

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READ ALSO: Nanaimo Recycling Exchange closes gates

The RDN has a goal of diverting 90 per cent waste from the landfill by 2027 and Geselbracht said the bylaw would help with that. The diversion rate fluctuates between 65-68 per cent, he said.

We’re pretty much holding,” said Geselbracht. “We’ve definitely plateaued and there’s been a lot that changes, externally, outside of the country in terms of recycling … without these additional measures through our new solid waste management plan, it’ll be difficult to increase [our diversion rate].”

In an e-mail, Hastings said her organization and the RDN make “great partners for waste reduction,” and hopes the information gathered will assist with the 90-per cent diversion target.

“These waste audits for business will tell us what kinds of materials present the most problems for business recycling and they let the business know we are there to help,” Hastings said.

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