Solid Waste & Recycling

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Multi-Rez on the West Coast

The District of West Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and the City of North Vancouver, British Columbia have launched a brand new apartment, condo and townhouse recycling education and awar...


The District of West Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and the City of North Vancouver, British Columbia have launched a brand new apartment, condo and townhouse recycling education and awareness program to their almost 1000 (and growing) multi-family building sites. The goal? To increase participation in an already successful program by specifically targeting recyclable paper (newspaper and mixed paper) and increasing overall recycling material tonnages by 10 per cent over 2005 levels.

The North Shore Recycling Program (NSRP — the tri-municipal agency responsible for administering the municipal residential recycling program) has been administrating the region’s multi-residential recycling service since 1991, when it was tasked with adding multi-family recycling collection to an already established single family blue box program. Over the next few years, more than 95 per cent of buildings in the region signed up for recycling of newspapers, glass bottle and jars, and HDPE (#2) milk jugs in a three-cart collection system. By 1998, the program expanded to include clean paper products and plastic containers numbered 1, 2, 4 and 5. In 2005, 3,288 tonnes of recyclables were collected in the multi-family program — not including corrugated cardboard collected separately by private waste haulers.

One issue has been consistently problematic for planning and promoting the North Shore’s multi-family program: very little was known about how much waste was being diverted to recycling, or how much recyclable material was making its way to the garbage.

“Because garbage from apartments and townhouses is usually picked up by private waste haulers rather than municipal collectors in our municipalities, we really had no clue as to how much solid waste was actually being created by the almost 1,000 buildings in our jurisdiction,” says Victoria Gazeley, assistant manager of the North Shore Recycling Program. “Hauling contracts and tonnage statistics are considered proprietary information — companies aren’t so willing to share it, and rightly so. So we technically had no idea what we were dealing with. With almost 31,000 units on the North Shore, it was critical to find out what was really going on.”

As a result of the lack of multi-family garbage tonnage statistics, very little multi-family recycling education had occurred on the North Shore since 1998 when the program was expanded to collect more paper and plastics. Then a long-awaited waste composition study was completed by the Greater Vancouver Regional District in late 2005 and the situation was finally ripe for a new, measurable education and awareness program. With the raw data from the waste composition study in hand (including an interesting statistic showing that “…the North Shore had significantly lowest proportion of paper [18 per cent] in their waste stream relative to other sub-regions where the amount of paper ranged from 21-25 per cent],” the North Shore Recycling Program has developed a fresh new awareness campaign. “Our Problem, Our Solution” was designed by the agency’s in-house communications team to:

1) Tell residents that the recycling program is here and how it can help them make less waste (or at least dispose of what they do make responsibly); and

2) Increase recycling tonnages (specifically recycling clean newspaper and mixed waste paper) by 10 per cent over 2005 levels.

Noteworthy program components include:

* A colourful, modern two-sided recycling guide formatted as a self-mailer with both a tear-off return card (allowing residents to both enter their names in a draw for $250 in groceries and register for a monthly electronic newsletter) and tear-off bookmark printed with “3 Simple Steps to Blue Cart Recycling.” Purpose: to encourage residents to retain the recycling guide, as well as interact with the creative piece. (See the mailer at — www.nsrp.bc.ca/pdf/MFRecycling Guide.pdf)

* Hand delivery of the guide by NSRP staff to every multi-family building over a two-month period, rather than delivery by Unaddressed Admail. Purpose: Though hand delivery is slightly more than double the cost of Unaddressed Admail, careful analysis showed that the returns on personally contacting building managers would be considerable, allowing the opportunity to update the multi-family recycling database, and to facilitate a face-to-face contact with both on-site managers and property managers.

* Corresponding 11″ x 17″ posters for those buildings requesting them. (View atwww.nsrp.bc.ca/pdf/MFProgramPoster.pdf)

* Advertisements on central business district bike racks (4 placements for 3 months — view at www.nsrp.bc.ca/pdf/NSRP_Bike Rack_April 2006.pdf), grocery store checkouts (4 stores for 2 months — view atwww.nsrp.bc.ca/pdf/NSRP_AdBar_April2006.pdf), and the community newspaper (www.nsrp.bc.ca/pdf/NSRP_NSNews_May2006_otl. pdf and www.nsrp.bc.ca/pdf/20060409_MFRecycling Guide.pdf).

* Webpage at www.nsrp.bc.ca/recycling/multifamily.html showing people details of the program and how to store recyclables in an efficient, attractive way.

Preliminary results have been very positive, with a large number of the mailer cards already returned and numerous property managers requesting additional recycling carts for their programs.

With a red-hot real estate market adding ever more condominium projects to the region (with no sign of letting up any time soon), the timing is both critical and ideal to launch a new awareness program. Program results will be analyzed at the end of the year, but the North Shore Recycling Program is confident that they have a winning program on their hands.

Contact Allen Lynch, NSRP manager or Victoria Gazeley, NSRP assistant manager at 604-984-9730 or info@nsrp.bc.ca or www.nsrp.bc.ca


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