The Zero Waste Project
Kamloops is an environment-conscious city, but it still sends a considerable amount of trash to the landfill. Not too long ago, the Urban Systems Kamloops branch was contributing their share to that pile of garbage, typically sending a packed-full-to-the-brim dumpster to the landfill each week. But things have changed and now, the office only sends a partially full dumpster every other week. So what happened?
A waste audit, some interesting changes and the guiding goal to be a zero waste facility.
The Zero Waste Project at the Kamloops office was led by a team of volunteers. Sustainability team member Ila Sutherland explains that after conducting a waste audit through Waste Naught BC, the volunteers decided to implement a new way of dealing with the office’s trash.
“We’ve now removed all the regular garbage cans and set up zero waste systems on each of our three floors. Each system has four waste streams: one for compost, one for mixed recycling, one for landfill and one for mixed bottles. The idea is that everyone is responsible for sorting their own waste into the right stream at the time of disposal.”
What is Zero Waste?
According to the Recycling Council of British Columbia, zero waste is, “a philosophy and a goal. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.” Essentially, the program is all about becoming more conscious about what we throw out and reducing the amount of waste that’s headed to the landfill.
Now it’s Easy
Ila explains that at first it took a little getting used to for staff to no longer have garbage cans under their desks, but soon the team was enthusiastic. “Getting used to not having our own garbage cans was the biggest hurdle. There were a lot of questions initially about what goes where, but now we’ve found our groove and I hear a lot of great feedback about the program.”
Another perk of the system? It encourages people to get up and move around more during the day (stations are centrally located throughout the office). “Everyone is up and moving around a little bit more for sure, and because we have to get up each time we need to throw something out, it makes us more active and also more aware of what we’re throwing out each day.”
“So much of our work at Urban Systems is all about sustainability and clean energy,” says Ila. “It just makes sense to be great leading examples in our community.”
To learn more about Zero Waste, click here.