Trash: we still throw out too much garbage

While it is great news that the Meade Creek Recycling Centre has been granted $2.56 million in federal

While it is great news that the Meade Creek Recycling Centre has been granted $2.56 million in federal Gas Tax Funds for much-needed upgrades to the facility, it is also a reminder that the Cowichan Valley as a whole, including Cowichan Lake, does not have a good, efficient way to dispose of the garbage we produce that cannot be recycled.

In Cowichan, we’ve managed to significantly cut down on the amount of waste that goes to the landfill. It’s a huge accomplishment for all of our local governments and all of our residents.

But there’s still a big problem with where that landfill is located.

For years now we have been sending our garbage to the United States. Quite aside from the problems that can create when the dollar fluctuates as it is now, it can also create an out-of-sight, out-of mind attitude.

In 2015 the Cowichan Valley Regional District completed a waste reduction study. Results included the finding that in 2013 “total waste generation rate from all sources in the CVRD was 286kg/per person. This is the lowest disposal rate ever recorded for the region and 63 per cent lower than the 1990 disposal rate (770kg). In fact, the most recent provincial studies show that the CVRD has the lowest per person disposal rate in B.C.”

This is very encouraging news, but by no means should we become complacent.

The study also noted that while the CVRD achieved and even exceeded its goal of reducing per capita waste by 50 per cent by the year 2000, things since then haven’t been as promising.

“Unfortunately, our per capita disposal rate has fluctuated in recent years and we haven’t been able to consistently maintain those levels of waste reduction. Instead, our most recent figures show that people are, on average, throwing out more waste now, than they did 10 years ago,” the report states.

There also remains a big problem in the region with illegal dumping, particularly in rural areas.

The study clearly shows that universal curbside organics collection would make a big difference in diverting a big piece of the waste stream. This is a good, reachable next step in achieving the CVRD’s ultimate goal of zero waste.