The City of Whitehorse, YK, is taking the lead among northern communities with a Solid Waste Action Plan that aims to divert at least half of its solid waste from landfill by 2015 and achieve zero waste by 2040.
The city has collected organics from single-family homes for over a decade, but more than 90 per cent of its waste comes from the rapidly growing commercial sector. The action plan focuses on commercial, institutional and construction waste and prioritizes high-volume materials from high-volume producers. City staff members are working one-on-one with businesses to help them implement customized waste diversion plans.
The city has changed its bylaws to help divert cardboard, wood and organics from landfill; and is also doubling its composting capacity. Stricter enforcement at landfill and higher tipping fees for certain items also encourage diversion. Implementing the plan will allow the city to cut waste processing costs, reduce soil and water contaminants, increase soil and compost production, and delay the costly development a new landfill site.
50% diversion from landfill by 2015, zero waste by 2040
Doubled composting capacity will reduce soil and water contamination, and decrease methane gas emissions
Separating wood waste at source will encourage reuse
Fewer resources needed for landfill processing
Delayed capital cost for a new landfill site
Recycling and composting will create new employment opportunities
Reducing waste and recycling will become routine for residents
Neighbouring communities without composting will have access to Whitehorse's facilities
Local soil and compost will be available for community gardening and local agriculture
Hiring new staff for program implementation and enforcement took longer than expected.
Administrative and legislative changes must be made before operations begin. For example, the city had to update the fees and charges bylaw to offer the new organics program.
Building public-private partnerships is challenging: businesses range from mom-and-pop shops to huge enterprises, with wide-ranging goals and resources.
Get council support early: political commitment is essential, especially in a small community.
Use innovative, ongoing communications to keep partners informed and engaged.
Ensure that waste management costs are paid by the users. With a user-pay system, high-volume waste producers pay more.
Target your public engagement — hold sector-by-sector meetings, followed by community-wide consultations.
Determine sector-specific requirements (bin sizes, space issues, waste volume and collection frequency) and schedule service groupings to control costs and streamline processes.