Metro Vancouver will host a series of Regional Forums on Waste Management on September 15th and 16th in Vancouver, Abbotsford, New West and Chilliwack. These forums are part the process that is currently ongoing to update the Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). The decisions that will be made regarding the path that Metro Vancouver will take will have not only environmental impacts but could have financial, health and operational impacts on both the business and residential communities in the city.

In 1995 a Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) was adopted by the Metro Vancouver Board and approved by the provincial government. On February 15, 2007 the Board adopted the Zero Waste Challenge which at that time consisted of actions such as investigating region-wide food and yard waste composting, increasing the list of recyclable materials banned from the garbage and expanding public education programs. New programs and initiatives to support the Zero Waste Challenge are continually being developed. According to 2007 statistics the Metro Vancouver waste diversion rate was approximately 55 percent however the Zero Waste Challenge has a target of achieving 70 per cent waste diversion by 2015. In 2008, opportunities were presented for citizens, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, businesses and First Nations to provide the first series of input into the update of the current SWMP.

In 2010, The Cache Creek Landfill, one of three solid waste disposal facilities used by Metro Vancouver, is scheduled to close. Until Metro Vancouver establishes further waste management facilities, there is an immediate need for an interim disposal solution, or extension of the Cache Creek landfill. As such, Metro Vancouver is seeking to amend the SWMP to allow for the annual export of up to 600,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste to the United States for a period of up to five years. Other updates to the SWMP will focus on minimizing waste generation; maximizing the reuse, recycling and material/energy recovery from solid waste; and extracting maximum benefit from the disposed waste stream.

The upcoming forums will feature a panel of international and local experts and will provide an opportunity for informed discussion on the options available and the impacts of these options. We will be attending the Vancouver session at 580 West Hasting on Tuesday the 15th at noon and will post our comments on the discussion soon afterward. For a complete listing of the other sessions and more information visit the website.