A commentary by the Capital Regional District’s general manager, parks and environmental services.
I would like to clarify a few of the points raised in the column “Zero waste means not expanding the landfill” (Trevor Hancock, Nov. 15) — especially as they relate to the Capital Regional District’s draft solid waste management plan.
The CRD is required by the province to provide a safe, secure and sustainable disposal option for the region’s garbage, now and in the future. If waste trends and population growth follow current projections, Hartland Landfill will be full by 2045 — sooner if we have a major earthquake — yet the CRD is responsible for managing waste in perpetuity.
It would be irresponsible not to plan for the future while at the same time prioritizing work that diverts as much waste from the landfill as possible.
The CRD’s draft solid waste management plan is focused on exactly these activities — things like material bans and increased recycling from commercial and multi-family buildings — to meet the plan’s target of reducing our waste by one-third, to 250 kilograms per capita per year by 2030.
This draft plan uses every tool available regionally to divert waste through reduction, reuse and recycling. The CRD is also required to prepare the landfill for future community needs beyond 2045, so the plan includes a strategy for using the region’s only landfill as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the waste system by stopping waste from leaving the region is not an endorsement for continued landfilling, as suggested in Hancock’s column. This note was made to the CRD board to highlight the important difference between waste diversion and waste exportation.
Closing the landfill in 2045 won’t force residents to stop throwing garbage away. Our waste will simply be trucked elsewhere for disposal, as is the case now for regions that don’t have their own landfill.
Waste migration away from the CRD means that waste generators who export won’t pay the tipping fees that fund the very reduction programs moving our region closer to zero waste.
While there will always be some material that requires landfilling, extending the life of Hartland Landfill to 2100 does not preclude residents from changing their habits. In fact, this facility might last until 2200 or even 2400 if we all do our best to reduce waste now.
The proposed design for Hartland allows for this flexibility and gives the CRD time to continue exploring and researching technologies that might reduce the region’s need to landfill in the future.
Public input is an important part of the region’s planning process. The CRD is inviting feedback on the draft plan at crd.bc.ca/rethinkwaste.
Residents interested in learning more can also attend a live-streamed information session on Dec. 14 via the CRD’s YouTube channel.
On behalf of the CRD, I look forward to this continuing conversation.