News » Whistler


Building piles of garbage Construction waste is one of the largest contributors to the Whistler Landfill, but innovative recycling programs are being implemented to combat mountains of construction waste from growing up in Whistler. According to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a recent study showed that the building of one single family home generates about 2.5 tonnes of garbage. In this day and age of recycling and re-using the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Carney's Waste Services are working together to make sure re-usable or recyclable material does not go into the local landfill. With all of the construction scheduled for Whistler this summer, from condos and major hotels to single family homes, the wood waste, drywall, plastics, cardboard, packing material and insulation usually goes into a dumpster which is destined for the landfill. According to Rhona Hunter, an environmental engineer with the RMOW, 26,000 cubic metres of construction debris went into the landfill last year, up from the 23,000 cubic metres of construction debris in 1993. If construction goes as planned this summer, the total should be up again. Hunter says it is hard to estimate the size of a pile of construction debris 26,000 cubic metres high, as it depends on compaction, the material and other factors. "A cubic metre is a cubic metre is a cubic metre," says Hunter. "The more material that can be recycled and re-used the longer the landfill will last." Late last year the Whistler Landfill kicked off a system dealing with demolition, land-clearing and construction debris. Carney's employees are sorting through wood waste, separating the re-usable pieces and sorting them to be stacked and sold back into the construction market. "Most of the stuff that is being re-introduced into the construction system is dimensional lumber like two-by-fours," says Hunter. "We don't have a lot of demolition waste so we really concentrate on dealing with construction waste." Cardboard is removed to be recycled and the municipality has been saving drywall to be shipped to the Lower Mainland for recycling. Mark Rowlands, solid waste management co-ordinator with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, says Whistler's construction debris is being dealt with on a proactive basis and is moving toward guidelines put forward by B.C.'s NDP government to reduce solid waste in the province by the year 2000. The SLRD is at Stage Two of its solid waste management plan which contains options for the future of solid waste in the district. The next step will be to decide what course of action is going to be taken.