Greenest City Action Team sets a hard target for waste reduction in Vancouver

Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Greenest City Action Team delivered a tough but realistic 10-year action plan to Vancouver city council last week.

In adopting the GCAT recommendations, council committed the city to a 2020 target of “40 percent reduction in solid waste per-capita going to landfill or incinerator”.

At the October 20 council meeting, GCAT cochair David Boyd told me that the baseline year for that reduction will be 2007. According to the 2007 Vancouver Landfill Annual Report, our solid waste in that year was 634,844 tonnes. With a 40 percent reduction, barring a huge influx of population, we will send only 381,000 tonnes of waste to the landfill in 2020.

Along with cutting the sheer volume of waste, we’re going to get serious about hazardous wastes, compostable organics (source of potent GHG methane and toxic leachate) and “symbolic sources of trash and litter” such as plastic bags and Styrofoam.

Helen Spiegelman is a Vancouver-based environmentalist and blog coordinator. Read more at Zero Waste.



Eric Chris

Oct 26, 2009 at 6:26pm

What about air emissions in Vancouver? The City of Vancouver correctly points out the cancer and asthma health hazards of particulate matter (PM) from diesel buses then does a lot of hand waving and ignores the serious problem of diesel buses on our trolley bus routes which have been over run by diesel buses thanks in large part to the indifference of the City of Vancouver.

On page 58 of the Vancouver 2020 Bright Green Future link, the part about new diesel buses reducing PM by 99% is absolutely wrong. In fact, the new generation low NOX diesel buses which TransLink operates emit higher PM emissions than previous diesel buses. In any case, the factory emission levels are irrelevant once the diesel buses start to blow soot and many of the diesel buses operated by TransLink are soot blowing junk, V3108 for instance. Cars aren’t a serious health hazard and meet all AirCare requirements without blowing soot. The only place where air quality is a health hazard is on bus routes with high diesel bus frequencies: in particular on the 99 B-Line route which has 600 diesel bus trips daily. By the way, the 99 B-Line diesel buses don’t go through AirCare, too embarrassing for TransLink to show what a bunch of crap it operates.

From only one 99 B-Line diesel bus, PM emissions are over 40 micrograms/m3 and exceed all 24 hour emission limits in the table given on page 59 of Vancouver 2020 Bright Green Future link. Unsurprisingly, TransLink has not been singled out as the major polluter and health hazard in Vancouver so the City of Vancouver will meet all its air quality objectives targeting cars and other small polluters which have little influence on the air quality in Vancouver.

Mayor Robertson, you really need to go down to your transportation department and kick some tail to get TransLink operating trolley buses 100% of the time on trolley bus routes, especially on the 99 B-Line route, because your transportation department is in bed with TransLink and doesn’t give a damn. Your clean air initiative is a bunch of crap without any substance and if you need me to help you do something about the air quality, let me know.