The Town of Banff is working on a plan to increase the amount of recycling and organic diversion it sees in its community from both residential and commercial sources.
The most recent analysis of what goes into garbage and recycling bins in the resort community showed 46 per cent (4,135 tonnes) is recycled and 54 per cent (4,925 tonnes) of waste goes to the landfill.
But within the residential waste being trucked to a landfill near Camrose, 65 per cent per cent could be diverted, reaching sustainability goals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to environmental coordinator Shannon Ripley.
Ripley said within the non-residential stream that number is 76 per cent, meaning there is a lot of opportunity for people to increase recycling in the community.
“We are here to ask guidance from council to come up with appropriate targets for consideration, as well as tactics and approaches,” she said.
The materials found in residential garbage bins that could be recycled included 35 per cent food and food-soiled paper, 6.5 per cent garden materials and 12.5 per cent mixed paper and cardboard.
Non-residential waste showed that food and food soiled paper made up almost half the garbage – 48 per cent – while yard and garden material was an additional 8.8 per cent.
Ripley presented the numbers as part of a recent waste characterization study by Hankins Environmental Consulting to council at its Feb. 12 meeting. The data from the study represents an average of what consultants found when looking into garbage bins, and for 2016-17 non-residential (or commercial) waste represented 65 per cent of the total waste stream, while residential was 32 per cent and pedestrian bins three per cent.
“The purpose for taking a moment to reflect on waste generation, diversion and disposal numbers is to evaluate our current practices and policies we have in place,” she said. “As most of us are aware, there are many benefits to diverting municipal solid waste from the landfill.”
Ripley said diversion rates in some communities in the country reach as high as 68 per cent (Regional District of Nanaimo), and cities like Vancouver, Guelph and Halifax range from 61 to 63 per cent diversion.
Ripley noted those jurisdictions have curbside garbage and recycling pickup services, whereas Banff has bear-proof neighbourhood bins.
Alberta municipalities, according to her staff report, have the highest disposal rates in Canada and average between 10 and 38 per cent diversion. Banff has remained between 39 and 46 per cent diversion since 2012.
Ripley said administration would return with recommendations on how to get residential and non-residential sectors to increase diversion rates. Those would range from an educational campaign – in print or in person – to the possibility of banning certain materials, or even instituting clear garbage bags for residential waste. As of November last year, Banff non-residential garbage is required to be in clear bags as a way to promote diversion in that sector.
“That prompt alone helps people realize there are materials they are throwing out that are recyclable,” Ripley said.