Jul 16, 2010

CUPE BC urges Metro to adopt more recycling, waste reduction

Union submission opposes privatized incineration option for Lower Mainland

VANCOUVER—CUPE BC’s submission to a Metro Vancouver consultation on the Draft Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan calls for a “zero waste” strategy for the Lower Mainland that rejects a proposed incineration plan and urges more waste reduction and recycling as key elements of a “green jobs” strategy.

“We believe much more can be done than is currently planned to meaningfully reduce commercial and industrial waste; construction, demolition and renovation waste; compostable organic waste and waste from multi-family dwellings,” the submission says.

It also explains CUPE’s opposition to the expansion of multi-decade “public-private partnerships” (P3s) to deal with Metro Vancouver waste issues, including a proposal to build one or more large, privately-operated P3 incinerators and rely on incineration for disposal of most residual waste.

“Waste is an important public resource and responsibility which should not be turned over to private control for private profit, but rather should be managed publicly in the public interest,” the submission says. “A major increase in expensive P3 incineration in this region will act as a disincentive to zero waste goals and puts the region at risk for other undesirable health and environmental consequences.”

The submission also outlines CUPE’s concern with proposals to deal with Metro Vancouver’s waste by shipping it elsewhere, particularly the idea of barging the region’s garbage to the west coast of Vancouver Island in order to burn it at a P3 incinerator there.

“As much as possible, Lower Mainland solid waste problems should be tackled within the region and the consequences should be handled here since it is Lower Mainland residents, businesses and communities which are responsible for generating the waste.”

The submission argues that Metro Vancouver is underestimating the potential of regulations to help guide a big increase in waste reduction, recycling and diversion. It urges Metro Vancouver to create a central waste reduction utility to aggregate demand and assist with marketing of recyclables.

COPE 491