Tipping the Balance: The Future of Local Waste

Our traditional models of production are generating untold amounts of waste as by-products, creating new challenges as for burgeoning cities. This continuous accumulation of unusable material, the end products from our daily lives, are pushing cities to the limits of “waste disposal”. While the implementation of the green bin program in Metro Vancouver has significantly reduced organic household waste throughout many municipalities, there is still much more ground to cover when it comes to other waste streams.

A quick survey of practically any alleyway in the region will often turn up all sorts of items left out. It is easy to try to forget the plethora of chairs, toilets, cabinets, mattresses, electronics and the like that has been tossed.

Standing at the top of the Vancouver Landfill

Standing at the top of the Vancouver Landfill

The material that is brought to be “disposed” becomes a literal mountain of a challenge. Recently I had the opportunity to revisit the Vancouver Landfill in Delta. Established in 1966, the Vancouver Landfill serves over 1 million people from Vancouver, Delta, Richmond, White Rock, the University Endowment Lands and parts of Surrey. The landfill takes up as much space as 4 Queen Elizabeth Parks, and is filled to the height of 13 storeys high. It has has the permits to accept 750,000 tonnes of waste annually.

Learning about their management strategies, such dealing with leachate (described as garbage juice), landfill gas and plans beyond being a landfill was eye-opening and interesting. While it is reassuring that there are plans for dealing with today’s garbage, but what are we doing for tomorrow’s? These challenges that we are faced with can be proactively dealt with through upstream action; changing the paradigm from what do we do with this waste to what are we planning when these materials reach the end of their intended use.

What do you think is the future of our local waste?

Thank you to Faisal for the tour of the Landfill.

Thumbnail source Landfill Tourism: Vancouver Landfill