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It’s an arduous weekly chore: open up the garbage can, toss the smelly garbage in. Carry out the compost. Empty it into the compost bin. Repeat. But where does our trash go, and what happens to it? At the City of Vancouver Landfill Open House last weekend, we got a first-hand look into Vancouver’s finest garbage heap.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Vancouver Landfill in Delta was buzzing with school children, families, and visitors all eager to learn about waste disposal in BC’s most populous region. While people took guided tours of the landfill site and enjoyed free food and interactive displays on landfill processes, Matt and I were on hand to provide information on how to recycle household paint, lights, smoke alarms, and hazardous waste into better uses. It was great to join forces with recycling teams of Return-It, ElectroRecycle, BC Recycles, and the Recycling Council of BC to help kids understand how most products can be recycled instead of sent to landfill.

Matt and I even got the chance to tour the landfill ourselves. As the tour bus climbed up the sloping hills of the landfill, it became easier to visualize the 20 million tons of garbage that enters the landfill each year. These are not natural slopes, but ascensions of layered garbage that go back as far as 1965. Eventually, the landfill will hit its projected limit of 35ft. (~10 meters) so it is crucial that we continue to divert as much as possible in order to increase its longevity. In 2014, up to 61% of materials were recycled or diverted from the landfill and the City of Vancouver is aiming for an 80% diversion by 2020.

This where you come in. The more we recycle products like household paint, lights, smoke alarms, small appliances, hazardous waste, as well as, the hundreds of items that are accepted at recycling depots and transfer stations across the province, the lesser our landfills will be required in the future. Thank you Vancouver Landfill for a terrific event that allowed us to teach future generations about the many recycling options available!

Sarah & Matt

[1] City of Vancouver Engineering Services, Transfer & Landfill Operations Branch. (2015). Vancouver Landfill 2015 Annual Report.

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