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Zero Waste Branches Out to College Campuses

The City of Vancouver has partnered with community centres and post-secondary institutions to make them into waste collection hubs

Bike parts are refurbished at the Vancouver Zero Waste Centre. Bikes often end up in landfills in Vancouver. Photo Agazy Mengesha
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By Agazy Mengesha

The City of Vancouver has partnered with community centres and post-secondary institutions to make them into waste collection hubs for those who can’t make it to the new Zero Waste Centre near Marine Drive Station.

Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Michael Wiebe said the city recognizes that a lack of transportation or motivation to go too far from home often stands in the way of people practicing proper recycling.

Can’t drive? Zero waste comes to you

“Not everyone’s got a car, not everyone’s going to drive all the way out to South Van,” said Wiebe, adding that different hubs have organized to either deliver collected waste to the new centre or have a truck from the city pick it up. “We’re lowering barriers by bringing recycling closer to communities.”

So far, new agreements between community centres, schools and the park board are in the pilot stages, but Wiebe said he’s hopeful that they’ll be more prevalent and permanent in the future.

Bike waste repurposed

According to Sunny Nestler, the manager of the AMS Bike Co-op at UBC, their partnership with the Zero Waste Centre started with an engineer from the initiative approaching the school to see if they could solve the problems of so many bicycles in Vancouver’s landfill.

“So whenever they get 10 or 12—whatever they think is going to be a truckload for us of bikes and parts, they contact our sustainability coordinator and then that person heads down to the station for pickup,” Nestler said.

After the bikes are collected, they’re brought to the bike co-op and refurbished before re-entering the community.

Schools lead the way

According to Travis Smith, communications manager at Langara College, the school isn’t involved with the centre because it was not approached by the city or park board. The college’s recycling and waste management process is currently under review through a public tender process.

“That process may lead to additional opportunities to collaborate in the future,” Smith said.

According to Wiebe, the city encourages schools to set up their own zero waste committees.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to expand and ensure that schools are leading the way because they’re a place of learning,” Wiebe said.

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