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District invites residents to talk trash

Garbage, garburators and laziness hot topics at DNV waste workshop

GARBAGE collection, garburators and the citizen's role in reducing waste were all subjects of discussion at a District of North Vancouver council workshop Monday.

The public meeting was part of an ongoing effort by the municipality to gather opinions on its approach to solid waste, marked by council as a key issue for the fall of 2012.

Currently, the district sends approximately 15,043 tonnes of residential waste to the landfill and 11,856 tonnes of organic material to Harvest Power composting in Richmond every year. Another 7,971 tonnes is recycled. The amount of waste generated by commercial and industrial buildings in the district is not known.

The municipality is looking for ways to divert more of that material from the waste stream, especially by preventing it from entering the collection system in the first place - but the degree to which ordinary citizens can be expected to help in the effort was a topic of debate.

"It's getting kind of complicated, with three streams of recycling and two streams of garbage," said Coun. Roger Bassam. Asking the district's 82,000 residents to sort their trash between the green organic waste container, the recycling bin and the garbage cans may be becoming a confusing burden, he said, arguing that dividing labour among an entire community has its limits

"We've built pyramids that way, (but) it may not be the best way to do it," he said.

Further tightening the rules could be counterproductive, said Bassam.

"The bigger the delta the greater the motivation to take your garbage elsewhere," he said, noting Burnaby's stringent rules may be the cause of the city's growing problem of mattress dumping.

"Eventually, people just get fed up with all the regulations," agreed Coun. Mike Little.

Coun. Robin Hicks suggested the problem could be overcome with financial incentives.

"I'm in support of a user-pay philosophy," he said. "People can save money by doing the right thing, and if they're lazy like Roger, it'll cost a little more."

Garburators, another way by which solid waste leaves households, were also a point of contention. The devices regularly breakdown and are often misused, according to Coun. Alan Nixon.

"I think that we should, quite frankly, prohibit the installation of garburators," he said.

More study needs to be done on garburators before any decision is reached, according to Mayor Richard Walton, who said he recently did away with his garbage disposal unit.

"I don't know if I've done the right thing or not, and I'm the mayor," he said.

Metro Vancouver has set a goal to reduce per-capita waste by ten per cent from 2010 to 2020. The plan includes increasing composting and recycling to boost waste diversion from 55 per cent to 80 per cent.

The district will be conducting a phone survey of residents on the topic this month. Council will be reviewing its waste plan in September.

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