Zero Waste

The District of Squamish has developed a Zero Waste Strategy to achieve an average 350 kg per person per year disposal rate with a corresponding diversion rate of 75% by 2020. The diversion rate is how much waste is diverted from the landfill, and is either recycled or composted instead. Click here to view the District of Squamish's Zero Waste Strategy. 

The development of the District of Squamish’s Zero Waste Strategy included public engagement, industry consultation, innovation and lessons learned from other communities who have achieved Zero Waste.

Recycling and waste reduction are interwoven into the fabric of what makes Squamish, Squamish. As a community surrounded on all sides by mountains and the ocean, environmental stewardship is integral to building a resilient and thriving city. Future-focused environmental stewardship, which incorporates community-wide waste reduction, is one of the guiding principles of the District of Squamish Council's Strategic Plan.   

Squamish has many waste diversion options for residents, including multiple drop-off locations for recycling and organics, residential recycling and organics collection for all single-family and townhouses, a free paint exchange location, a drop off for reusable construction materials at Squamish ReBuild, several extremely active non-governmental volunteer-based groups and more.

Considerable progress has been made, however more can be achieved as the District continues to move towards Zero Waste. Stay tuned for updates on our progress and thank you for your participation and interest in the process!


 

Tips to Reduce Your Waste

All of us make decisions every day that impact how much garbage we send to the landfill. Here are some ideas on everyday things you can do. There’s a list of resources at the bottom, feel free to share your ideas in the comment section.

  1. Stop Using Plastic Bags. Almost everyone has a stash of cloth bags and almost everyone has forgotten to bring them along when shopping at least once. Make a rule for yourself. If you forget your cloth bag, carry your goods without one. Cotton or mesh bags can be used for produce and bulk items as well. Have a pocket-size bag on you when you’re clothes shopping or just going out, you never know when you might buy something.

  2. Set Up Your Recycling and Compost in a Convenient Place. This sounds like a little thing but it has a big impact. It has been found that if there are bins for recycling, organics and bottles and cans in the kitchen, people are more likely to use them. The “dry” recyclables should be washed clean and won’t smell.

  3. Compost! This is the single most effective way to cut your garbage output. During the latest audit conducted at the Squamish landfill, it was found that roughly 35% of the waste is compostable organic matter, and over 10% of it was avoidable food (ex. veggies that have gone bad). If your home doesn’t have organics pick-up, ask your strata or property manager if it’s possible to get one for your building.

  4. Recycle Everything You Can. In Squamish we can recycle much more than plastic, paper and metal! Did you know that you can recycle your lightbulbs, smoke alarms and bike tires? Check out the Waste Diversion section to see what you can recycle where. Post this list in your kitchen cupboard as a quick reference. Remember that small things add up.

  5. Give Up Take Out Containers. Not just coffee cups. When you’re leaving the house in the morning and you don’t have a lunch with you, grab a container and some cutlery. If you’re buying something simple like a piece of pizza, a muffin or samosa that you’ll eat right away, ask for it in your hand.

  6. Check the Packaging BEFORE You Buy It. This sounds easy to do but is also easy to forget. Look for “pure” packaging products like glass instead of composite products like tetrapaks, which are hard to recycle.

  7. Buy Secondhand. Besides saving you money, previously loved goods don’t come with packaging. Who says you need a brand new bread machine or frying pan? There are millions of them already out there and a lot of them need a new home.

  8. DIY (Do It Yourself). You can make a surprising number of things yourself (and save some serious cash at the same time). From bread to clothing to laundry soap, for recipes check out the Queen of Green website in the Resource section below.

  9. Get Educated. Read about recycling and going waste-free to learn about what others are doing. Watch The Story of Stuff (video link below), an eye opening animated, short film about the cycle of waste and consumerism. There is a lot of information out there that can help you reduce your garbage.

  10. Let businesses know how you feel.  Writing a letter or calling a company goes a long way.

 Waste Hierarchy

The ‘waste hierarchy’ prioritizes actions by those with the greatest environmental benefit.
Credit: UTS: Institute for Sustainable Futures


 

Waste By the Numbers:

  • 610 kg - the average of garbage disposed of per person in the District of Squamish in 2017. 
  • 350 kg - the target set by BC's Ministry of Environment of garbage disposed of per person per year by 2020. 
  • 536 kg - the provincial average of garbage disposed of per person in 2013.
  • 525 kg - the average of garbage disposed of per person in the Squamish Lillooet Regional District in 2012.

2017 waste per capita graph3

 

Waste Audit Overall Results   

In May 2016, the District of Squamish conducted a waste audit of what is being thrown in the garbage. The above chart represents the breakdown of the overall findings.

If you are interested in learning more about the Zero Waste Strategy, please contact the District's Sustainability Coordinator.


Resources


Waste Reduction

http://youtu.be/Mh-gFOoTYrc 

You Can Live Without Producing Trash

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYDQcBQUDpw

 

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Comments

  • Marc d'Entremont Nov 01, 2018

    I'd love to see the values after the composting program came into effect.

  • Hannah McVean Jan 29, 2018

    Great tips - is there any progress being made on possibly banning plastic bags at the grocery stores in Squamish?

    • Communications Jan 31, 2018

      Hi Hannah, Great question. We are keeping a close eye on Victoria's planned July 1 plastic bag ban so that we can learn from their experience. The issue has been discussed in Council in the past, however there was a question as to whether or not a local government has the authority to impose a plastic bag ban. In the meantime, we are encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags until a decision on a solution is made. Thanks!

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