Average B.C. resident throws out 550 kilograms of garbage each year: study

The province is one of the leaders in waste reduction, but is far from meeting its own 2020 targets

The average British Columbian produces 549 kilograms of garbage in a year – roughly the weight of a horse, according to a new study by Vancity.

The financial institution said Tuesday that B.C. actually produces the least amount of waste per capita in Canada, second only to Nova Scotia – 30 per cent below the national average.

But it’s also 60 per cent more waste than the province-wide target the government set to meet by 2020.

“B.C. is a leader when it comes to waste reduction and diversion, but more strategies are needed to track and improve results,” said Morgan Beall, Vancity’s environmental sustainability portfolio manager.

“The province’s capacity to absorb waste is constantly being stretched. We all have a responsibility to eliminate waste.”

The study, called State of Waste: How B.C. compares in the war on trash, says 25 per cent of the waste found in landfills was spoiled and uneaten food – most of which belonged in compost bins.

In Metro Vancouver, half of all the waste in 2016 – the most recent year for this data – came from demolitions, construction and land-clearing projects.

Another two per cent was clothing, totalling 20,000 tonnes.

The report also compared cities, and found that people in Delta create the most trash – roughly 465 kilograms per single-family household.

Vancouver was not far behind, with 426 kilograms. Surrey, Richmond and West Vancouver did not provide disposal data for the report.

Per capita, Nanaimo, Cowichan and Victoria were some of the closest to reaching the 2020 goal of less than 400 kilograms of waste per household. The North Coast, and Fraser-Fort George region had some of the worst rates, of more than 800 kilograms per household.

People living in Lions Bay produced the smallest amount of garbage, roughly 188 kilograms per household.

The report made several recommendations to limit waste, including households trying the zero-waste challenge, governments tracking and releasing disposal data to the public, and companies establishing mandatory waste reduction and paper-free programs in the workplace.


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