Solid Waste Utility Bylaw Update

Proposed changes to the Solid Waste Utility Bylaw

The District is updating its Solid Waste Utility Bylaw and is seeking feedback on the proposed bylaw changes prior to adoption. Changes are being introduced to increase the diversion of recycling and organics from the landfill, and to further reduce our collective impact on the environment as we strive towards the goals of our Zero Waste Strategy.

What is changing?

1. Introduction of multi-stream separation (garbage, recycling, organics) for apartment/condo complexes and all commercial, industrial and institutional properties:

  • Apartment/condominium complexes (referred to as multi-family homes or MFH), and all commercial, industrial and institutional properties (ICI) will be required to separate garbage, organics and recyclables prior to disposal.
  • The owners/occupiers of the premises will be responsible for appropriately separating the solid waste streams prior to pick up by the waste hauler.
  • Building managers/business owners will be required to provide educational material to residents, tenants, employees and contractors on how to separate and deposit waste, organics and recyclables into appropriate three-stream receptacles.

2. Requirement to use clear bags for all garbage (affects all Squamish residents and commercial, industrial and institutional properties):

  • Garbage must be placed into totes in clear/transparent plastic bags.
  • One optional dark privacy bag can be included with disposal. There will be size restrictions around the privacy bag.


Public feedback and the draft proposed bylaws will be presented to Council in July 2017.

Why are these changes being proposed?

Squamish sent an average of 676 kg of waste per person to the Squamish landfill in 2016. The most recent landfill audit (2016) revealed that more than 65% of that waste going to the landfill could have been recycled or composted.

  • As approximately 80% of what ends up in the landfill is derived from ICI properties and multi-family complexes, the requirement for three-stream separation at these properties is expected to reduce this number significantly.
  • The requirement of clear plastic bags is intended to, among other things, increase participation from households or businesses that do not presently divert recyclables or organic material from the waste stream. Clear bag programs were first introduced in Canada on the East Coast in the early 2000s with high levels of success, and are receiving recognition throughout Ontario for reducing the amount of materials going into landfills.

The Squamish landfill is on track to be full by August 2017. A multi-million-dollar capital project began in early 2017 to build a wall around the south end to vertically expand the landfill. This 10-metre high wall will extend the life of the landfill by up to 10 years. However, without increasing the diversion of recycling and organics from the garbage stream, that 10-year lifespan could be reduced.

The District of Squamish developed a Zero Waste Strategy (fall 2016) 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 top four priorities of the Zero Waste Strategy are:

  1. Implement an Organics Disposal Ban
  2. Ensure recycling and organics diversion programs and services are available and convenient for everyone at home, at work and on the go
  3. Institute Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Guidelines
  4. Promote Waste Minimization

Other resources:

Please send us your comments in the box below.

Post your comment


  • Bill Darcy Jun 26, 2017

    The introduction of multi-stream separation for apartments, condos and commercial properties is a good idea. Compliance penalties are problematic though. Squamish is a small town and people will get on board quite quickly on their own. Penalties enforced by "garbage police" is expected in a police state not a democracy and an over reach on the part of the local government.

    The requirement to use clear plastic bags is a fundamental invasion of privacy (even with so called privacy bags) and infringes on our basic rights and freedoms. This requirement, enforced by penalties, is an overreach by Squamish Council, not a rational and reasonable measure. While we want to encourage recycling, composting and reuse, this type of strong arm measure that infringes the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals cannot be justified by the ends. The means to reach those ends are offensive. If Squamish Council passes this, it's time for a new Mayor and Council.

  • Gwen Jun 16, 2017

    I believe I posted a comment last week but don't see that it is available on the website. My question was about the clear plastic bags. Are we sure that the results of using clear plastic bags in 2000 in the East relate to our situation here? We don't put our garbage bags out on the curb, but rather we load garbage into an opaque plastic tote. Just don't understand how using a plastic bag is going to improve anything garbage-wise and because it means consuming more plastic overall it is going to make things worse.

    • Communications Jun 26, 2017

      Hi Gwen, Thank you for your question. The intent of the proposed changes is to not to use more plastic than is currently being used to contain the garbage, but to make a switch between the plastic bag types used. Every community's waste system is different, however clear bags bring a level of awareness to contamination that is easy to ignore with non-transparent bags.

  • Shelagh Jun 09, 2017

    I use bio bags for my household garbage and instead of clear plastic which is a major concern for the environment, why not enforce bio bag use instead? Also, Squamish is growing at an exponential rate which is going to put major pressure on our garbage/recycling infrastructure so some more thought needs to go to this as well.

  • Liz Jun 08, 2017

    I fully appreciate the need to get more people recycling but being instructed to put landfill waste into clear plastic bags is unbelievable. Plastic does not break down underground and will languish in landfill indefinitely. Have a serious rethink for future generations.

  • Anne Bright Jun 08, 2017

    Supply the bags for free to taxpayers and perhaps. Compost bags should be supplied for free as well.

    •Priority #1 - Implement an Organics Disposal Ban. MONITOR THOSE NOT COMPLYING
    •Priority #2 – Ensure recycling and organics diversion programs and services are available and convenient for everyone at home, at work and on the go. SUPPLY BAGS AND ASSURE BUSINESSES ARE ACTUALLY USING COMPOST AND RECYCLING (STARBUCKS!!!)
    •Priority #3 – Institute Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Guidelines (MONITOR THOSE NOT COMPLYING - ILLEGAL DUMPING)
    •Priority #4 – Promote Waste Minimization (AGAIN, MONITOR THOSE NOT COMPLYING)

  • Ally Jun 08, 2017

    Where will these clear bags come from? We will need different sizes of garbage bags available.... or else I will be dumping the contents of household opaque bags out into the clear bags and throwing the dirty opaque bags out as well - creating more garbage.

    • Communications Jun 21, 2017

      Hi Ally, Thank you for your feedback. The District would plan to work directly with local retailers to ensure that transparent bags are available throughout the community in a variety of sizes and prices.

  • Dave Colwell Jun 08, 2017

    Not sure what the clear bag rational is, but realize that many use the small white plastic bags they get from shopping to package their this is a form of recycling. even if it is undesirable plastic. Forcing clear bags will involve a good source but hopefully people will not have to hunt for them and pay for them as an extra..

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