Archive for the ‘Background on Zero Waste Program’ Category

Hello all –

Our final report is completed and submitted to Metro Vancouver. If you would like more information about how we did, some of our stories and successes please take a read.

We are all very proud of our accomplishments.

We will continue to update our blog with related information and from time to time updates on how our ‘families’ are doing post-challenge.

All the best this season.

Merry Christmas from Glenbrook North!

Some highlights from the Report:

There are many ways to measure the success of a community challenge such as this. The sharing of waste reduction ideas, the building of community, and the lessons learned made the GNCZWC a success. Fortunately, the statistics also show the Challenge was very successful at reducing the amount of non-recyclable waste produced by the community and headed for the landfill.
Results for the GNCZWC are presented and discussed in the following sections. Data was prepared using the average per household measurement in order to demonstrate the performance of the neighbourhood as a whole.
Waste Reduction Statistics
Chart 1: Average Weight of Generated Waste per Household (refer to actual report for data)
This chart shows the overall picture of garbage reduction. The first 5 weeks were the Baseline period where the families were to maintain existing habits and not make any efforts to change behaviour. As you can see, the families already produced less garbage per week then the average lower mainland household. However, the reduction from these first 5 weeks (when the garbage output averaged between 7 and 8 kg/week) to the 8 weeks of the challenge part of the Challenge (when the average output was around 4 kg/week) is significant and remarkable. Trends to note were the overall decrease in the amount of trash, the relatively stable amount going to recycling, and the increase in organics diverted.

Although there was an overall increase in composting, the amounts of compostable material generated probably more reflected changes in gardening and lawn care practices due to the spring season, and might not continue at this level for the rest of the year. The notable increase in organics diversion at the start of the pilot dropped slightly and stabilized after week 8.
The increase in garbage output during week 4 may have been due to efforts to “clear out” garbage during the last week of the Baseline period before the Challenge period started, or perhaps due to long Easter weekend spring-cleaning.
There is a slight reduction in the amount of recyclables that went to the curb or the Eco Shed every week. At first glance, this would suggest that much of the reduction in trash was not from changing behaviors “under the sink”, but from an effort to reduce the amount of trash that was produced in the first place. In other words, this indicates that the balance of the garbage drop in the neighbourhood could be attributed to reduction in the consumption of products in general. This is an important behavioural change to note as reduction finds itself higher on the hierarchy of the 6 Rs.
The net result of the slight decrease in total recyclables, the increase in the amount of organics composting, and the overall dramatic decrease in overall waste results in a significant increase in the “diversion rate”, as shown on Chart 2.
Chart 2: Diversion Rate. Glenbrook North‟s initial Baseline diversion rate was already greater than the regional average calculated by Metro Vancouver. The participants were able to successfully increase their combined diversion rate to greater than 77%.

This is a remarkable achievement. Metro Vancouver has a stipulation in it‟s new Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan that single family households in the region should strive to achieve a minimum diversion rate of 65% by 2015, from the current rate of 45%. The GNCZWC demonstrated that the goal is quite achievable, and that it was possible to reach a rate of near 80% diversion. The participants increased their diversion rate by 15 – 20 percentage points, and did so in a relatively short period of time.


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This Summer Sapperton will become the third neighbourhood to take part in Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Challenge.

Together we will work towards reducing the amount of garbage we throw away, by composting, recycling and changing the way we consume disposable products.

Through fun community gatherings and supporting each other, businesses and households are uniting to make changes and strengthen our relationships with our neighbours and allows us to be better stewards of the earth.

To follow this community please visit their blog at Sapperton Zero Waste.


Glenbrook North!

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Working towards a world without waste through public education and practical application of Zero Waste principles.

The Zero Waste International Alliance has been established to promote positive alternatives to landfill and incineration and to raise community awareness of the social and economic benefits to be gained when waste is regarded as a resource base upon which can be built both employment and business opportunity.

The simple technology and methods required to achieve Zero Waste exist in every community around the world. The Zero Waste International Alliance can connect you to leaders in the field who can provide your community with the models, the projects, the people and the means to help you develop Zero Waste as your ultimate goal.

The Zero Waste International Alliance will:

  • Initiate and facilitate research and information sharing for the promotion of Zero Waste
  • Build capacity to effectively implement Zero Waste
  • Set standards for the application of Zero Waste

The Zero Waste International Alliance operates at the international, national and local level and will involve all sectors of society.

Zero Waste Definition
The Planning Group of the Zero Waste International Alliance adopted the following definition of Zero Waste on November 29, 2004. This is intended to assist businesses and communities in defining their own goals for Zero Waste.

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

This is the goal we are striving for.  Measures of success in meeting this goal are outlined in the Zero Waste Business Principles and the Global Principles for Zero Waste Communities. Businesses and communities that achieve over 90% diversion of waste from landfills and incinerators are considered to be successful in achieving Zero Waste, or darn close.

For More Information click here.

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So here we are at week 2. So far so good except for the fact that I have to stop myself from starting the actual challenge part and elliminating things from our purchases etc. That part is tough!

Last night my five year old daughter was watching a program on Knowledge Network about garbage dumps and recycling. She was totally sucked in and extremely excited. She wanted to tell us all about what the kids in the program found in an 1984 dump. She recounted in detail at dinner that they found a 2 foot tall plastic Godzilla monster figure missing an arm and leg, a stuffy that was sooooooo cute with purple and pink fur and HUGE eyes and diapers that had hardly decomposed (I think she said decom-apart).  LOL!

She could not believe that 1> anyone would chuck toys into a dump where they would be all alone in the dark smelly place and not give them to someone else to love and 2> that after all this time (relative in her mind since she has only been on our planet 5 years) that they still look cute and all cuddly! Well, not the diapers…the diapers made her feel terrible and she began asking about all her diapers and where they would be. Tough questions but key to getting our youth educated young. Diapers are a whole other can of worms for another post…

This started a great dialogue around the table that ended in Maxime wanting to participate in helping us with the Challenege weighing the garbage, recycling and helping with the compost. Very cool. So we took out the scale and away we went. She is small, 40lbs, so to see her straining to hold on to the blue bin with fierce determination and hugging the yellow mixed paper bag and picking up all the pieces that fell out when she dropped it when her arms gave out – so sweet and poignant.

This Challenge I realized is more than  just the initial blush of showing change and getting in front of the media and community it is about teaching. Teaching the next generation how important it is to change now and to start that change with your kids now. Train and educate your children from day 1 and they will grow up with this change as an integral part of their mantra.

When our kids reach our age things like the Zero Waste Challenge will no longer be a pilot program optional for communities interested in ‘participating’. It will be way past that. It will be law. It will be the only way we can coninue forward.

So with this in mind, I see how key this challenge is not only to me and my community but to my children and their children.

Seeing the gleam in Maxime’s eyes as she spoke about the TV program brought a tear to my eye as well as a very real fear about her future here on Earth.

Cheers to Week 2!

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Welcome to our community challenge!

We are a community located in Glenbrook North in beautiful New Westminster, BC. We 14 families have come together to make a difference in our community and in the world. We all live on Colborne Street in a cul-de-sac and enjoy each other’s company, look out for each other and delight in taking care of our piece of the world.

We have joined together to help reduce our waste collectively and see just how close we can get to Zero Waste.

We are part of a large pilot project from Metro Vancouver and are the second group to partake in this incredible challenge and journey. For more information on this program and to find out how you can start one in your community please visit: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/solidwaste/zerowaste/Pages/default.aspx

We are committed for a pilot period of 12 weeks (may go longer). The way it works in a nutshell is as follows:

1> We collect baseline data for 4 weeks – business as usual – which means we continue to compost, recylce and throw away as we have always done. We use a scale to weigh our waste.

2> We then get down to business and start reducing our garbage. We compost as much as we can. We recycle and we reduce our garbage. We do this for 8 weeks or more and continue to collect data.

3> We rejoice in building a tighter community, inspire our broader community and continue to reduce and recycle.

Voila – the Zero Waste Challenge!

Please feel free to follow up on our journey – send us comments and encouragement and please think of staring up your own!


Glenbrook North and Colborne Street collectively.

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Zero Waste Challenge

Metro Vancouver’s Sustainability Framework envisages a zero waste region – no waste, only resources. Currently, residents and business recycle just over half of the 3.5 million tonnes of garbage, or solid waste, created in the region each year.Metro Vancouver Waste StreamAlthough we recycle more than we ever did, our increasing population means we are challenged to even maintain our current 55% solid waste diversion rate.

Recycling alone cannot be the answer. As long as total waste generation climbs in parallel with recycling volumes, we will not make progress toward Zero Waste – the amount of waste we generate in the first place must come down.

Zero Waste Challenge Public Consultation

Metro Vancouver is updating the Solid Waste Management Plan that guides how the region will deal with its garbage.The first round of public consultation consisted of 9 public meetings held throughout the Metro Vancouver region between March 13 and May 15, 2009. Participants confirmed and supported Metro Vancouver’s target of achieving 70 per cent waste diversion by 2015. Thank you to everyone who made the effort to participate. A copy of the report capturing consultation results was presented to the Waste Management Committee on May 20.

Next Steps

The Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District Board received a report entitled Next Steps in the Development of a Solid Waste Management Plan on Friday, June 26. The plan is under development.

Updating the Solid Waste Management Plan

The Zero Waste Challenge is part of the region’s new Solid Waste Management Plan.For more information please visit:


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