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Whistler 2020 on the ground

Getting so zero wasted

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With the opening of the new regional composter this fall, all Whistler citizens can now deposit a variety of compostable materials into receptacles at both the Nesters and Function Junction transfer stations.

Dark compost black is the new green. With this infrastructure comes an opportunity for all Whistlerites to move toward zero waste by separating out compostable organics from your non-recyclable garbage. In short, this sorting activity should net you a smaller, less gooey and stinky garbage bag, hand-in-hand with a securely-sealed bucket or compost container enroute to the transfer site.

According to “Stop Trashing the Planet,” an Eco-Cycle report published this June, “A zero waste approach is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies to protect the climate.” Huh? Compost connected to climate? Think about it…

“Significantly decreasing waste disposed in landfills and incinerators will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to the equivalent to closing 21 per cent of U.S. coal-fired power plants. This is comparable to leading climate protection proposals such as improving national vehicle fuel efficiency. Indeed, preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting are essential to put us on the path to climate stability,” reads the report. Methane produced from decaying landfilled organics is roughly 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The Whistler2020 Materials and Solid Waste Strategy addresses how to meet Whistler’s need for supply and disposal of materials while minimizing environmental impacts. The compost facility is a huge step toward achieving the Materials and Solid Waste strategy Description of Success, which states, in part: “The resort community is ‘closing the loop’ by providing appropriate and convenient opportunities for reducing, reusing and recycling materials.”

More than12 dedicated citizens, stakeholders and waste specialists have been convening annually since 2005 as the Whistler2020 Materials and Solid Waste community task force. They have worked hard to develop 48 actions to recommend to local lead organizations that will help Whistler “close the loop” on materials and move us toward our shared zero waste goal. One of their recommended actions is the establishment of a community composting solution for Whistler. Because of the RMOW Wildlife Attractant Bylaw, backyard composting is not allowed in Whistler. The new composter as a solution will have a large impact on reducing our landfilled waste and also create a valuable product, Class A compost.

In 2007, Whistler’s production of landfilled waste was more than 600 kg per person. Whistler’s new composting facility has the potential to divert more than 5,000 tonnes of organic material annually (the equivalent of more than 20 per cent of our total waste) from the landfill.

We are not alone.   Nova Scotia has several stellar systems, as do Quebec and Alberta. In British Columbia, Nanaimo and Ladysmith both have impressive food-waste collection and processing services.

“The biggest barrier for most people is the ‘Yuck’ factor,” says Jeff Ainge, Zero Waste Coordinator with the Regional District of Nanaimo, a community which just finished a one year residential food waste collection pilot program. “Once people realize composting actually cleans up their garbage they soon find an easily cleanable bucket or container that works for them. People really want to compost.”

So now, Whistler, food you buy at the store represents a full spectrum of real choices in closing the loop on waste. Whistler’s citizens are now fully engaged in the process of deciding what to buy, how to use it and how to positively dispose of it. If you don’t have a good compost bucket with a lid, go to Cows in the Village and pick one up, they’re free. Now that’s a load of compost.

 

SIDEBAR 1:

Zero Waste is a new way of looking at our waste stream. Instead of seeing used materials as garbage in need of disposal, discards are seen as potential valuable resources. A pile of "trash" represents jobs, financial opportunity, and raw material for new products.

Zero Waste Is:

• A goal and a process that involves individuals, communities and local, provincial and federal governments and a vision of a future where garbage is a thing of the past.

• A movement that began by asking the simple question, "Why have our recycling efforts hit a plateau?" One reason is that after targeting 50 per cent diversion and achieving it, people lost interest in going further. It was clear to those involved in waste management that further gains in waste reduction and recycling could be achieved but that the will to pursue them was lacking.

• Inspires us to revisit our goals, and apply our knowledge to the problems that persist. Once the possibility of Zero Waste is accepted, all waste looks different.

• Is about the knowledge and understanding that we all need to be responsible in our use of resources and our impact on the planet.

 

SIDEBAR 2:

Acceptable items include:

• All fruits, vegetables, plant stalks (cooked or uncooked)

• All food scraps, bones, meat, fish, dairy, bakery discards, nuts, pasta, cereal, sauces (cooked or uncooked)

• All flowers and house plants

• Coffee grounds (with filter), tea bags

• Wood stir sticks

• Soiled paper napkins (serviettes)

• Sawdust, woodchips, shavings (no cedar)

• Biodegradable cornstarch containers

 

Unacceptable items include:

• Plastic bags*, wax paper, glass*, metal*, foil*, styrofoam, cellophane products*

• Rubber or plastic products*

• Waxed paper containers (milk cartons, coffee cups)

• Grease, cooking oils and liquids

• Microwave popcorn Bags*, pizza boxes, corrugated cardboard*

• Fruit or vegetable labels

• Paper egg cartons*

• Tetrapaks** (juice boxes)

• Diapers

* Place these items in recycling bins

** Return these items for deposit refund

 

The following materials must be delivered directly to the Waste Transfer Station on Callaghan Valley Road:

• Yard waste, including grass clippings, leaves, small twigs, and hedge trimmings

• Fireplace ash

To KNOW MORE about actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020 or to join a task force visit www.whistler2020.ca .

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