As Metro Vancouver prepares to table a new draft solid waste plan for the region on September 17th, an overwhelming percentage of residents surveyed in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley say the regional district’s plan to limit the amount of garbage we throw away does not go far enough.
According to a recent survey conducted by Angus Reid Strategies on behalf of Belkorp Environmental Services, 93 per cent of residents surveyed in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley say there is value in working to exceed Metro Vancouver’s current waste diversion goal, further reducing waste sent for disposal and improving programs that emphasize reducing, reusing and recycling.
Metro Vancouver currently diverts approximately 55 per cent of municipal solid waste away from disposal. After adopting its “Zero Waste Challenge”, the regional district set a goal of 70 per cent diversion by 2015.
The survey also reveals that 88 per cent of respondents are concerned with the human health impacts, such as air quality, associated with Metro Vancouver’s new waste management plan. 76 per cent are concerned with environmental impacts such as climate change, and a further 70 per cent are concerned with the financial impacts of a new waste management plan, such as the costs for building infrastructure.
Metro Vancouver is contemplating building and operating up to six waste incinerators in Greater Vancouver to serve as the region’s primary disposal option. 65 per cent of those surveyed by Angus Reid Strategies believe that incinerating waste would have a negative impact on the region’s air quality.
Hamish Marshall, Research Director of Angus Reid Strategies, said, “These results clearly indicate that residents in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley are big supporters of reducing waste and recycling, and they want to ensure we are mindful of issues such as air quality, environmental impacts and higher costs when considering a new solid waste plan. This is entirely consistent with the region’s well known affinity for sustainable living.”
Ted Rattray, President of Belkorp Environmental Services, said, “The results of this survey highlight a disconnect between the desire of Greater Vancouverites to reduce the waste we throw away and Metro Vancouver’s current emphasis on waste incineration, which will require a committed flow of waste to generate electricity for decades to pay down the large up front capital expenditure involved.”
“Taken as a whole, the results speak to the need to carefully evaluate all the alternatives available to us when considering a new waste management plan for the region, including a greater emphasis on reducing, reusing and recycling. There is more we can do to improve our ability to limit the waste we dispose of, including separating waste at source, recycling, reusing, composting and reducing the overall production of personal waste,” added Rattray.
Additional Survey Highlights
> 81 per cent of respondents in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley say Metro Vancouver’s preparation of a new solid waste management plan for the region is an important issue for them.
> The majority of respondents would not be willing to accept an increase in property taxes to fund a waste management plan that emphasizes incineration.
> A greater percentage of those surveyed would be willing to pay higher property taxes for a waste management plan that emphasizes reducing, reusing and recycling (3Rs) as compared to plans that emphasize disposal options such as incineration or landfilling.
About the Survey
From September 1st to September 4th, 2009, Angus Reid Strategies conducted an online survey among a randomly selected, representative sample of 435 adult residents of the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error, which measures sampling variability, is +/- 4.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
About Belkorp Environmental Services
Belkorp Environmental Services is currently involved in recycling and waste disposal services in Greater Vancouver and actively supports the adoption of a zero waste philosophy by Metro Vancouver. Belkorp designed and built the first cardboard recycling plant of its kind in BC. It also built the first newsprint de-inking and recycling facility in the province, owned and operated a used oil recycling plant in North Vancouver, and was part owner of an organics composting facility that was eventually bought by the Village of Whistler and relocated in Whistler.