The Regional District of Nanaimo is introducing ReThink Waste-branded zero-waste kits that include reusable produce bags; reusable cloth snack bags and reusable straws. (RDN photo)

The Regional District of Nanaimo is introducing ReThink Waste-branded zero-waste kits that include reusable produce bags; reusable cloth snack bags and reusable straws. (RDN photo)

Regional District of Nanaimo working on new waste diversion initiatives

RDN offers branded zero-waste kits

The Regional District of Nanaimo is working to implement new initiatives, including mattress recycling, that will help reduce the quantity of waste sent for disposal.

The district’s solid waste management plan has a goal of reaching 90 per cent waste diversion.

RDN special projects co-ordinator Sonam Bajwa, in a report to the solid waste management select committee, indicated the easiest way to reduce waste is to avoid purchasing or creating what people don’t need.

The new initiatives focus on the strategies of reduce, reuse and recycle. They include zero-waste kits, compost giveaways, non-stewarded residential household hazardous waste collection and mattress recycling.

As more communities focus on banning single-use plastics and other items, there is a demand for reusable items. The RDN is introducing “ReThink Waste” branded zero-waste kits that include reusable produce bags; reusable cloth snack bags and reusable straws. The plan is to offer these as prizes and giveaways throughout the year at RDN and affiliated community events.

READ MORE: RDN residents display good recycling habits

Currently, the RDN has a 20-year organic waste processing services agreement with Circular Waste British Columbia Inc., the successor to Nanaimo Organics Waste Limited. It started in 2018. This entitles the RDN to 25 tonnes of compost per year and it is working with the City of Nanaimo on how to allocate distribution of compost in the fall of 2020. Preliminary planning has already began.

From Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, a new pilot was tried that involved the RDN and Port Alberni based INEO Employments Services to determine the feasibility of processing mattresses for recycling received at the regional landfill and Church Road transfer station.

As of Nov. 8, the RDN have diverted 710 mattresses from the landfill for recycling by INEO, an organization that provides work for individuals who normally would not gain employment within the community. It has a mattress recycling facility on Second Avenue in Port Alberni. INEO salvages parts of the mattress such as springs, foam and textiles that are shipped out to companies for repurposing.

Based on the diversion and financial metrics, the RDN-INEO pilot project has been successful said Bajwa. The RDN now wants to pursue a request for proposal for a two-year contract to continue the recycling services.

Providing collection options for household hazardous waste are also being addressed by the RDN. Currently, the district does not have any non-stewarded recycling or safe disposal option. A request for proposal is currently being developed with the goal of simplifying and providing clarity on the issue.