Driver Pam Wilson dumps a load of garbage at the Victoria transfer station on Garbally Road. The garbage is dumped into the back of a tractor trailer for transport to Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

Driver Pam Wilson dumps a load of garbage at the Victoria transfer station on Garbally Road. The garbage is dumped into the back of a tractor trailer for transport to Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

WEEKEND FEATURE: Wrapping our heads around garbage in Greater Victoria

Like clockwork, Allan Cheaney awaits his turn to tip the contents of his service truck into the waiting tractor trailer.

He has to speak loudly over the roar of municipal garbage trucks that have congregated at the City of Victoria transfer station where every day is garbage day.

It’s Cheaney’s job to gather up the oddities that are found on city streets – unwanted furniture and mattresses, broken glass, spilled fluids and even animal carcasses – and bring them here to be hauled away to Hartland Landfill in Saanich.

“It’s getting worse, I could do that all day,” Cheaney said of the furniture dumping he sees every day. “It’s starting to be in the more affluent areas.”

On average, every CRD resident generated 413 kilograms of waste in 2009, down from 670 kilograms in 1989.

That may be an improvement, but there is still a long way to go if the Capital Regional District hopes to divert 60 per cent of the waste heading to the landfill by 2013, and 90 per cent by 2020. The goal is to extend the life of Hartland beyond 2040.

The problem is that garbage has become an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue for many people, said Robert Gifford who has been teaching environmental and consumer psychology at the University of Victoria for the past 31 years.

“We all have lots of things to do in our life,” he said, explaining why few people ponder the implications of what they’re throwing away. “Whatever is in front us right now takes precedence.”

Curbside collection, done weekly in Victoria and bi-weekly in Esquimalt, Saanich and Oak Bay, has offered people convenience, but has cut them off from their relationship with the environment.

“We’re less in touch with nature now and we’re less in touch with garbage now,” Gifford said. “When people see what the impact could be, it changes people’s behaviour.”

About 2,000 people attended Hartland Landfill’s open house last year, where they got up close and personal with some of the landfill’s 48 hectares. In addition, CRD educational campaigns over the years have helped boost recycling efforts. As a result, Hartland Landfill is being filled more slowly than anticipated.

More than 90 per cent of single-family homes in the CRD participate in the blue box recycling program.

More than 19,000 tonnes of recyclables are now diverted from the trash every year.

“People have gotten their heads around recycling,” said Monique Booth, CRD environmental sustainability communications co-ordinator. “There is a behavioural change and a philosophical shift in consumption.”

Still, about 140,000 tonnes of refuse is trucked to the landfill every year.

According to Gifford, some people might not be as honest about their environmental efforts as they say they are.

In three different published studies, evidence shows many people will say they recycle more than they actually do, Gifford explained. Researchers actually looked into blue boxes before they questioned residents.

“In other words, what it shows is you can’t be very confident about what people say,” Gifford said about why people lie about their efforts to be green. “We want to look good.”

To get a better look at what we throw out, how much, and in which neighbourhoods, the CRD conducted a waste composition study for 2009 and 2010, as it does every five years. Out of the samples collected from Victoria, Esquimalt, Saanich, Oak Bay and View Royal, about 30 per cent of the trash was organic waste. Some of the garbage was recyclable — about 16 per cent was paper and paper products and 13 per cent was plastics.

“There’s still a lot (of recyclables) in the garbage, but there has been a significant drop from 20 years ago,” said Tom Watkins, manager of Hartland operations.

Over at the Victoria waste transfer station, Tej Labh has witnessed a gradual decline in the amount of garbage his solid waste crews collect every year. Last year, 4,800 tonnes was collected, down from 5,000 tonnes in 2008. “People just know now,” said Labh, senior lead hand of Victoria’s solid waste and recycling division. “People are catching on about doing the right thing.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

By the numbers

• 125: Number of hectares Hartland covers, including 48 hectares of landfill area.

• 561: Number of tonnes of asbestos taken to the landfill in 2009.

• 1,600: Number of homes that can be supplied with electricity generated from methane gas produced at Hartland.

• 15: Number of years it takes to secure a new landfill site.

• 25: Number of years Hartland must be monitored after closure. CRD is putting money aside for monitoring costs until 2070.

 

Thrown away

Results of CRD solid waste composition study, 2009-2010:

Single-family homes:

• Saanich: corrugated cardboard, furniture, clothing, construction materials such as carpet.

• Esquimalt: feminine hygiene products, newsprint such as flyers, glass.

• View Royal: ferrous metals, disposable diapers, animal feces, electronics, kitty litter.

• Victoria: books, footwear, organic waste.

• Oak Bay: tissue paper, paper towels and napkins, aluminum foil and trays, plastics.

• Since 1989, there has been a 42-per-cent drop in the amount of garbage taken to the dump.

Apartments:

• Saanich: organic waste, tissue paper, paper towels, napkins, milk cartons.

• Victoria: electronics, clothing, magazines, cardboard.

• Oak Bay: feminine hygiene products, disposable diapers, glass and household hazardous waste such as empty aerosol cans.

• Esquimalt: small appliances, kitty litter, ferrous metals, furniture.

Hartland Landfill timeline:

1950s: Hartland used as an unregulated dump site.

1985: CRD takes over landfill operations.

1997: The year phase two opened; it can accept about seven million cubic meters of solid waste.

1998: Year that phase one of the landfill closed, with 4.5 million cubic metres of garbage that runs 50 metres deep.

2040: Year the CRD has previously predicted phase two of the landfill will be full.

Just Posted

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

GardenWorks nursery in Oak Bay at its home until August. (Black Press Media file photo)
GardenWorks puts down new roots in Oak Bay this summer

Nursery shifts down The Avenue to fill former fitness studio space

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Most Read