A garbage truck arrives at Metro Vancouver’s waste-energy facility in Burnaby. (Black Press files)

A garbage truck arrives at Metro Vancouver’s waste-energy facility in Burnaby. (Black Press files)

Trash haulers rail against proposed Metro Vancouver waste rules

District says regulations will help encourage people to separate trash from recycling, food waste

The group that represents waste haulers in the province isn’t happy about new regulations soon to be voted on by Metro Vancouver.

The regional district says the new rules would cut down on banned trash items, such as recyclables, going to the landfill and would ensure that people using the region’s transfer stations are paying for them.

Under the proposal, any hauler collecting more than 10 tonnes of mixed municipal solid waste per month or operating mechanically unloading vehicles would be required to apply for a commercial hauler licence.

A licence would require haulers to do two things: ensure the waste they deliver to the region’s transfer stations doesn’t contain banned items, such as cardboard or food waste, and provide recycling containers to all their multi-family customers.

Waste Management Association of B.C. past president Steve Bryan says requiring haulers to monitor what their customers throw out, and fine them if they don’t comply, is unreasonable.

“It makes no sense,” Bryan said. “Multi-family is the hardest area to get the message across to. If we’re talking to a property manager, then we’re not getting to the person who’s doing it.”

The haulers can’t always tell what’s inside a garbage bag, he added.

Currently, people in Metro Vancouver can’t throw corrugated cardboard; recyclable paper; green waste; containers made of glass, metal or banned recyclable plastic; beverage containers; food waste or clean wood.

Making disposal bans stick

The regional district’s solid waste manager, Paul Henderson, said making the haulers responsible for what they bring to transfer stations is more efficient.

Often, Henderson said, cities have bylaws in place requiring people to recycle, but they have no way of enforcing the bylaws.

“The challenge that the local government is trying to work directly with individuals and there are thousands and thousands of [them],” Henderson said. “The haulers already have the relationship with the generators, and it makes the enforcement of a bylaw much more simple and effective.”

The proposal is modelled on one in Portland, Ore., in which the city provides commercial recycling containers. Henderson said Metro Vancouver has no plans to do so, citing the region’s “diverse collection network” where one type of container wouldn’t work across the board.

Paying into the system

The second proposed regulation involves a generator levy to cover the costs for transfer stations and solid waste planning.

The levy would not add to tipping costs for haulers who take their waste to Metro landfills, as the fee is factored into Metro tipping costs. But if they take their waste to any other region’s landfill, that levy must still be paid to Metro Vancouver.

Henderson said the generator levy came around because garbage picked up in Metro Vancouver was often taken to facilities outside the region, where tipping costs did not contribute to their fixed costs and disposal bans couldn’t be enforced. In other words, it was cheaper for haulers to dump their trash elsewhere.

The levy would start at $40 per tonne and increase to $50 over five years.

On Friday, regional district staff were directed to bring bylaws on both the commercial waste licence and the generator levy to the board at their next meeting.

Bryan said he believes both added fees are meant to pay for one thing: a second incinerator.

However, Metro Vancouver says plans for a second incinerator were put on hold in 2015, with nothing new so far in its five-year capital plan.