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How can we reach our 2020
Greenest City Targets?

HelenS

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  1. 180 votes
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    2 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    HelenS supported this idea  · 
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    HelenS commented  · 

    Claudia is right that this won't happen without getting the attention of the business owners. Like the rest of us, they are set in their ways. Plus, for businesses time is money so they are going be more resistant to change. How do we facilitate the shift? Frances Bula brought back a photo published in THe SUn of a city employee in San Francisco standing in restaurants with a clip board, talking to a skeptical restaurant owner. Might make more sense for the City to facilitate, rather than deliver education services with their own employees. Maybe the City could facilitate an education program where a non-profit organization with all the facts would reach local food service businesses through BIAs. The non-profit would have a corps of outreach workers, armed with a basic brochure and a list of companies providing organics collection service. This could be coordinated through existing initiatives like the Green Table Network.

  2. 98 votes
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    6 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    HelenS supported this idea  · 
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    HelenS commented  · 

    My sense is that people would like to have a ready-made system for handling food waste in the kitchen. I don't think it's molly coddling for the world to come up with a neat tidy system for handling food waste -- this is going to be a basic function in every household, not just here in Vancouver but across North AMerica and beyond. What I'd like to see is a purpose-made paper bag similar to the Bag to Earth (http://www.bagtoearth.com/) that some clever Ontarians came up with. Can we do even better? Here's a product we could produce locally, creating jobs in production -- as well as a market for recycled paper right here at home. I spoke to Bulldog Bags in Richmond about this -- but they referred me to someone on a cellphone in California.... surely the Greenest City can come up with a made-in-BC solution.

  3. 23 votes
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    1 comment  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    HelenS shared this idea  · 
  4. 8 votes
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    5 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    In Germany they collect paper in a designated bin ("Altpapier") that is emptied by automated trucks, the way our garbage and yard trimming bins are. This seems very sensible: it keeps the paper clean and dry, as Alexander Bell and Jimmy point out, and it also keeps *other materials out of the paper* which is hugely important to the paper industry. The blue and yellow plastic bags were a big step up from leaving paper out in the rain, but I think we're ready for a switch to Altpapier bins. The City staff will need to cost out what it would cost - the bins are not cheap - but the increased collection might bring revenues to recover the cost over time. Paper does have a net positive revenue to the City, I believe. (Eventually we can phase out the "Blue Box" when all the glass, plastic and metal containers finally go back for cash refunds like beverage containers.)

  5. 29 votes
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    1 comment  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    The question is: how can the City enforce "mandatory recycling"? The best approach might be through Business Licensing: the City could require as a condition of obtaining a business license that every supermarket present documentation on how it organizes its recycling system for its waste. This would require some preliminary work for the City, determining, for instance, what has to be recycled and what are the criteria for an acceptable recycling program. THe City would want to work with stakeholders from the industry and the community in developing these criteria. (And, of course, there should probably be similar requirements attached with all business licenses.)

  6. 21 votes
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    4 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Eco equity is addressed through focus on generating job creation opportunities for full spectrum of workers, from high skilled to those with barriers to employment. This is an idea that is included in the Draft Greenest City Action Plan

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    HelenS commented  · 

    This is really critical in the shift from traditional waste management to Zero Waste. Many public and private sector jobs are tied in to traditional waste services. CUPE represents lots of these workers, who collect our garbage at the curb. Other unions represent workers in the private garbage industry. These traditional waste services are not going to solve our waste problem because they start at the end of the pipe. Instead, a green economy will include lots of enterprises earlier in the "pipe" (e.g. repair, refurbish, etc) that will ultimately create more interesting jobs than driving a truck down the alley. The challenge is how do we manage a *just transition* from oudated industries to green industries. Social planning has a role -- esp for making sure that the marginalized are not marginalized from the discussion. But I think we need to engage the other sectors: unions, business associations, to make sure that this goes mainstream too.

  7. 27 votes
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    10 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    This idea will be included in the draft Greenest City Action Plan. A Green Enterprize Zone team is establishing an area and some initial projects including two business incubators, specific infrastructure and demonstration projects.

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    HelenS commented  · 

    THis is a great discussion that is moving into *how* it can be implemented. Kira noted that "The City has an internal staff team right now working through the local priorities for green zones...." I think it is really important that the City open up the planning in a formal and systematic way, moving from internal staff teams to establishing Working Groups or Task Forces that include expertise and stakeholders from the larger city and its neighbourhoods in the discussion. The BIAs come immediately to mind. We have a pretty good model with the Food Policy Council, where stakeholders from the entire food chain talk together with the City. THe VFPC is now looking at a central "Food Hub" "Neighbourhood Food Networks" - this could be linked in with broader Green Enterprise objectives.

  8. 12 votes
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    3 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    This could be done at two scales. The City could fosgter one showcase project at a larger scale, and also a decentralized network of smaller, neighbourhood scale projects. It could also be demonstrated on commercial (retail) as well as industrial lands. "Reverse retail" is going to be needed to become part of the consumer products economy as EPR (producer responsiblity) kicks in as an alternative to traditional municipal curbside garbage & recycling. We will need not only industrial enterprises to manufacture "green" products, but also commercial enterprises to get used products back from consumers so they can be repaired, refurbished, upgraded, re-sold -- or eventually routed to recyclers for remanufacture.

    HelenS supported this idea  · 
  9. 10 votes
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    1 comment  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    Good idea to encourage use of recycled materials in manufacturing... but there might be some complexities here. The main question is what would be the appropriate role for the City here? Aside from regulatory role (incentives through zoning, business licensing, etc) the City might use its buying power to "pull" markets for recycled products -- but not likely that a non-profit could supply products in volumes consumed by the city. And in any case, I'm not sure these (fire logs, plastic park benches) are natural outlets for social enterprise -- aside from the fact that they have environmental trade-offs embedded in them. Should the City and our non-profit sector be spending public resources helping the plastic industry figure out how to get rid of old plastic?

  10. 272 votes
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    10 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    Our regional composting plant (Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre) has specified that NO plastic -- including so-called biodegradable/compostable plastic -- is allowed to be delivered to their facility. The City now has to do a much better job communicating this. As with children, the easiest way is not to say "no!" but to give them something else to play with. We need a local BC company to come forward and manufacture something like the "BAg to Earth" produced in Ontario, for us to use to bag up our food scraps before putting them out in the Green Bin. I tried to convince Bulldog Bags in Richmond to do this, but they didn't get it.... Anyone know a paper bag manufacturer in BC?

  11. 190 votes
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    31 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    I would like to see a focus on paper-based food ware here in Vancouver -- but I am not clear yet how the City can bring this about. My gut feeling is that we are a wood-producing region and it only makes bioregional sense to turn to wood for products that have contact with food. This could be part of "branding" Vancouver. Could we get the neighbourhood BIAs on board with their food-service members? The City could also show leadership by using made-in-BC paper food service items in the parks and other facilities.

    HelenS supported this idea  · 
  12. 770 votes
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    25 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    The City supports Metro Vancouver’s plans to ban food scraps from the incinerator and landfills by 2015. The City will collaborate with Metro Vancouver to develop and implement a plan to ensure apartments, condos, businesses and institutions have access to food scraps collection programs before the ban comes into effect.

    HelenS supported this idea  · 
  13. 99 votes
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    21 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    Hi again. Janna and Nick very sensibly call for a recycling system that is harmonized across the city - so we all know what to recycle and where. But the City is not in a position to provide this harmonization: we are one city among many in the province. The better place to point the finger is provincial regulation. We need to require producers who sell products in BC to provide a convenient, easy-to-understand, easy-to-participate-in recycling program for their stuff anywhere it is sold. It should be instantly recognizable and handy on streets throughout the province -- just like gas stations are! If you think about it, recycling is confusing (and confused) because we rely on our individual cities to set up programs -- so if you move from Vancouver to Surrey or Richmond it's a whole different system. This makes no sense, does it?

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    HelenS commented  · 

    Be sure that the cost of maintaining the recycle bins is paid by the producers of the materials placed there... a hard thing to do, but otherwise it's welfare for the wasters. It is costly to sort through all the miscellaneous stuff people will put there thinking it's "recyclable". Our street bins with the little tray for refundable containers are a good design because they make the containers available for kids and others to take them are cash them in.

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    HelenS commented  · 

    Vancouver's sleek metal litter bins were adapted (after public input) to offer a tray for recyclable beverage containers. This was a great start - it's been noted by blogging visitors from out of town! Now we need to upgrade the signage so that visitors from Washington and Ontario will know that beverage containers are worth money here! We were the first jurisdiction in NA to require beverage producers to take back containers and pay us to turn them in for recycling!

  14. 6 votes
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    2 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    I wholeheartedly agree. We are in denial about the impact of pet waste. I would like to see the City set up a Working Group to look into this, bringing all the "stake holders" together: pet supply shops, veterinarians, and interested pet / horse owners, etc. We need numbers: how many pets/horses are there in the city? What are the options for dealing with different kinds of pet waste? What do other cities do (someone commented on a Massachusetts system but the weblink was broken). Let's get busy on this!

    HelenS supported this idea  · 
  15. 5 votes
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    3 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    This is an essential component of the comprehensive organics collection & management program that we need in our city. A Metro Van waste composition report (2008) looked at the contents of park and street litter bins. The 3rd largest category of waste in the bins (over 13%!) is... pet wastes! We have no alternative system for people to dispose of this. Compostable organics was an additional 28%, mainly food waste. We need to look at giving people options for dealing with these wastes at home and away from home. Neighbourhood BIAs could have a big role in implementing the street bin system. It can become part of our culture to do the right thing with organic wastes of all sorts.

  16. 14 votes
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    1 comment  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    You're onto an important issue, Randall. Businesses and commercial enterprises produce 2/3 of the waste in our landfill. The commercial waste services industry is really hard to regulate. And it is still mired in old-fashioned notions of "efficiency" that save money up front to the hauler, but pass lon costs to all of us later on in wasted resources and pollution. Dumpsters also create a nuisance in our city's back alleys, which Vancouver's policing authority seems to be powerless to eliminate despite good effort. Vancouver's neighbourhood BIAs have been pushing for new approaches to waste collection that would replace dumpsters with separate collection of different materials. This is a good idea and needs to be supported.

  17. 34 votes
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    7 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    I think there was an initiative like this in Eugene OR about 20 (?) years ago. A group did a survey that disclosed products that could easily be locally produced but were being procured from afar - printed materials used by hotels was one example that I recall. They put the hotels together with local printers to supply the materials. Because of scale issues, I think this would be a good initiative for Vancouver's BIAs.

  18. 44 votes
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    4 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    My understanding is that there are city and regional bylaws banning disposal of a wide range of recyclable materials. The Mayor and Council need to tell us whether these bylaws are being enforced, and if not why not. Law-abiding citizens expect property managers and their tenants (whether residential or commercial) to pull their weight like the rest of us.

  19. 3 votes
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    2 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    Classic example: why is it legal to sell thermometers without guaranteeing to the consumer that you will take them back if/when they break? This is "Extended Producer Responsibility" (EPR). It's the policy in BC and gradually the province is expanding the program so that eventually all products and packaging -- toxic or not -- will be as easy to recycle as it is to buy in the first place. (I hope the company you took the thermometer to is honest... that's the other problem: how are consumers supposed to know who is an honest recycler? Even the Canadian Department of Defence was sending computers to China until the BAsel Action Network published a photo of one of their labels in a sweatshop recycling yard in China. With EPR the brand-owner chooses the recycler -- and suffers bad PR if it's a scam.)

  20. 15 votes
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    8 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    HelenS commented  · 

    The beauty of a refundable deposit is that it rewards recycling and punishes those who don't recycle (they have to give up the deposit). This proposal scares the life out of producers and retailers because it brings the problem home to them. In 1994 then-Minister Moe Sihota threatened to put deposits on everything. He got the process started by adding a whole lot of new container types. Last year, Alberta put deposits on milk containers and suddenly recycling shot way up. It's long overdue here -- as is raising the deposit (it's at a dime in AB for containers that are a nickel here).

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