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RDN targets 90 per cent diversion with new solid waste management plan

RDN currently diverts about 70 per cent of waste from landfill
The Regional District of Nanaimo has passed its solid waste management plan, which aims for 90 per cent waste diversion by 2027. (News Bulletin file)

The region has its sights set on diverting nearly 100 per cent of waste from the landfill in the next decade.

Regional District of Nanaimo directors approved a solid waste management plan June 26, targeting 90 per cent waste diversion by 2027. RDN has monitored garbage disposal since the 1980s, when 1,084 kilograms of waste per person went to the landfill annually, according to the waste plan report. In 2014 it was 347kg annually (68 per cent diversion) and 90 per cent would equate to 109kg per year.

Forty-two per cent of waste going to the dump is compostable organic waste, 15 per cent is paper and 13 per cent is plastic, the report said.

One measure intended to help the RDN hit its goal is mandating separation of garbage, recyclables and compostables. While numerous multi-family dwellings and businesses have recycling, the prospective regulation would direct institutional, industrial and commercial businesses to have individual garbage, recyclables and organic waste bins to sort material before it goes to the waste stream.

In order to institute this, the plan calls for the RDN to ask the B.C. government “enact a regulation to grant the RDN region-wide the authority by way of regulation for waste source separation,” according to the report. If the province denies the request, RDN proposes drafting a blueprint bylaw which its municipalities could pass.

The plan also proposes promotion of “zero waste recycling,” where the RDN would provide funding focusing on materials that end up at the landfill because they don’t fall under a stewardship program or aren’t part of an “established commercial market,” said the report. This would bolster diversion efforts, make recycling easier and provide incentive for non-profits and for-profits to establish markets and systems for recycling.

Waste hauler licensing is also part of the plan, entailing licensing for-profit waste transporters and charging fees for anything collected and disposed of at the regional landfill or incinerated at any facility, RDN or otherwise.

The RDN will look into expansion of household hazardous waste collection, according to the report, and it could include residential drop-off events. Expansion of zero-waste education will also be examined, which could include expanded advertising and social media presence and increased activity at public events.

Mandatory waste separation is projected to cost $373,000 annually, waste hauling licensing $469,000 a year, household hazardous waste expansion $100,000 a year and greater zero-waste education $40,000. The report projects taxpayers will see an increase of $10 per person annually between the old and new plans.

Alec McPherson, RDN Area A director and chairman of the solid waste management select committee, said the plan took about three years to compile and still needs B.C. government approval. Following that, the RDN plan monitoring advisory committee will work on developing a structure for both mandatory waste separation and waste hauler licensing schemes – consultation with stakeholders will be a part of this. The plan is expected to be fully implemented by 2021.

“We do all the bylaws and those go back to the government for approval, so it’s not a simple process,” said McPherson.

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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