COVID delays RDN waste initiatives

·2 min read

Covid-19 has delayed a number of initiatives related to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s solid waste management plan as part of its goal to divert 90 per cent of waste from the landfill by 2029.

The Solid Waste Management Plan Monitoring Advisory Committee received a year in review report from staff, which included details on some of the delayed plans.

A zero waste pilot project held in nine schools was put on hold three months into the project when schools shut down due to the pandemic. The project involved school staff learning about recyclables, waste audits and classroom resources that could lead to zero waste education opportunities for students. It is expected the project will continue this school year but will be modified due to the challenge of safely doing certain activities such as waste audits.

A number of zero waste events have been cancelled around the RDN. Staff made up free zero waste kits that included reusable grocery and produce bags, a straw kit and snack pouch, but those were not able to be handed out. When the RDN’s Water to Earth programming went virtual in March and April, a mending workshop had to be cancelled.

A partnership with Circular Waste North America, who processes the RDN’s organic waste, to give 25 tonnes of soil away to residents has also been put on hold due to Covid-19. The giveaway was meant to demonstrate “completing the loop” from a waste material to a useable product. A compost giveaway is in the works for March 2021 to be held at the annual Seedy Sunday event in Nanaimo.

The province’s Environmental Management Act requires each regional district to have a solid waste management plan approved by the minister of environment and climate change strategy. The RDN’s current 10-year plan was submitted to the ministry in 2018 and approved in March of this year. It is estimated the regional landfill in Cedar has 24 years of air space remaining, the year-in-review report notes.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder