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SLRD landfill study looks at ways to reduce construction waste



How much land could a landfill fill, if a landfill could fill land?

Landfills do fill land and Whistler could run into problems with the amount of construction waste – wood, drywall, siding, shingles and concrete – currently deposited into its dump.

"A considerable amount of wood waste makes its way into the landfill," said David Allen, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's waste reduction co-ordinator. "And a lot of that material can be reused."

The SLRD recently received $17,000 from the federal environment ministry to study ways to reduce, reuse and recycle construction, renovation and demolition waste.

Allen said the Whistler landfill tries to encourage recycling by implementing a high tipping fee.

It costs $116 per metric tonne to dump construction waste but the high fee sometimes creates more problems than it solves.

"It's a double-edged sword," he told Pique Newsmagazine . "It can lead to illegal dumping.

"And that's not the best thing for the environment."

A typical 2,000-square-foot house generates about eight metric tonnes of waste during construction.

According to Wendy Horan, the SLRD's recycling co-ordinator, some thrifty Whistlerites have built houses using materials salvaged from the dump.

Horan said it's easier for contractors to just throw away their waste because they don't know what to do with it.

"There's a lot of waste in this valley," she said.

But according to Allen, the SLRD will be consulting with local contractors, builders and developers this winter to try and find solutions.

"They're an integral part," he said.

The SLRD is also in the midst of a composting study.

Allen said he would like to combine the two studies to create a "complete system" by using wood waste as organic material in the compost.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, 25 to 30 per cent of solid waste in municipal landfills is generated by the construction, renovation or demolition sectors.

The SLRD study will take four or five months to be completed.