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Almost half of what ends up in Vancouver Island landfill could’ve been diverted: CRD

Building and organic materials continue to be drivers of what ends up at Greater Victoria dump
Unbuilders deconstruct a building on Fort Street in downtown Victoria in 2022. Crews are salvaging materials from the building as it’s torn down. Wood and other waste from construction and demolition are some of the main contributors to Hartland Landfill. (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)

Residents of the Capital Regional District put a great deal of trash in their garbage that could have been diverted from the landfill.

Over the last three decades, the region has conducted snapshot-style studies to determine the source and composition of solid waste ending up at Hartland Landfill.

The 2022 Solid Waste Stream Composition Study, produced by Tetra Tech Canada, found that about 47 per cent of what’s being sent to Hartland could’ve been diverted through existing waste programs.

The CRD aims to reduce the region’s disposal rate to 250 kilograms per capita by 2030, which means cutting the current amount of landfilled waste by about 40 per cent.

According to the CRD, Wood and wood products are now responsible for the largest share of waste, accounting for 19 per cent of what’s sent to the landfill. Construction activity is responsible for much of that waste.

“This is definitely a concern, and we’re working on a number of initiatives to deal with that,” Russ Smith, the CRD’s senior manager of environmental resource management, said at a February committee meeting.

Non-wood construction and demolition waste bound for the dump increased by more than six per cent compared to six years ago, making up 13 per cent of the total waste breakdown.

The local real estate market and the Highwest landfill closing down in 2021 are factors influencing the rise in this waste stream.

A load of construction and demolition waste dumped at Hartland Landfill in 2022. (Courtesy of Tetra Tech Canada)
A load of construction and demolition waste dumped at Hartland Landfill in 2022. (Courtesy of Tetra Tech Canada)

Organics ending up in the garbage continue to decrease as a 2015 ban, and more green bin diversion programs were implemented in the region. While the amount of organics and compostables in the garbage has fallen by around 11 per cent since 2010, it’s still the second-largest waste source at Hartland. The region has been leaving a lot on the table when it comes to perfectly good food. More than three-quarters of all organic waste is avoidable or donatable.

The other largest garbage contributors are paper, at 14 per cent, and plastics, at almost 13 per cent. Per capita, paper waste has risen by two kilograms since 2016, while plastics have remained the same.

For both single-family and multi-family CRD residences, organics make up about a quarter of their garbage bins. Paper and plastic items are the next biggest waste component for both.

About a fifth of what the two residence types are trashing could’ve been diverted through depot or drop-off programs, while just over a tenth of the residential garbage could’ve been recycled.

READ: Pricier home rebuilds targeted at start of Victoria deconstruction bylaw

READ: CRD aims to be zero waste national leader, reduce enough to curb landfill expansion