Metro Vancouver Increases Recycling Rate

British Columbians certainly have reasons to celebrate Earth Day this year. We’ve made great strides to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Global TV reports that Metro Vancouver (formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD)) now recycles 55% of our solid waste – amounting to 1.5 million tons per year. That’s up from 38%, 15 years ago.

More than 250 tons of materials — cardboard, plastic, paper, and aluminum – are recycled per day by just one facility, Emterra Environmental. The facility has a fairly efficient process… except for the plastic bags, the current bane of our environmentally-responsible existence:

Hopefully, the Retail Council of Canada‘s 2008 initiative with retailers to reduce the use of plastic bags will have a trickle down effect over the next few years. IKEA Canada (effective July 1, 2009) and Thrifty Foods (as of July 22, 2009) have stepped up to the plate.

Marvin Hunt, Metro Vancouver Waste Management department, believes that there has been an immense shift in attitude and environmental consciousness. As such, the next step for us is recycling organic material.

According to the Recycling Council of British Columbia (RCBC), B.C. leads North America in stewardship programs where “ecofees” are used to fund recycling programs. Anywhere from used beverage containers to old medications, motor oil, tires, and paint are redirected from the landfills and recycled into something useful. Trace elements of gold and silver in old computer equipment will, in fact, be stripped and used to help make the medals for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

RCBC promotes the principles of Zero Waste. The non-profit organization, founded in 1974, is Canada’s longest serving recycling council and consists of a membership representing all levels of government, large and small companies, and individuals who recognize the importance of sustainability.

If you’re wondering where to bring something in particular for recycling in B.C., use the RCBC Recyclepedia at:

Global TV interviews Mairi Welman, Director or Communications for RCBC:

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