Metro Vancouver’s construction and demolition sector has a higher waste diversion rate than either commercial/institution or residential, but there’s still to work to be done to keep construction waste out of the landfill, according to the latest Construction and Demolition Waste Composition Study.

Wood, concrete and asphalt shingles make up the majority of building materials (up to 80% by weight) in single family homes. Recycling options are available for many materials that are often landfilled, but the waste composition study found an increase in the amount of plastic in construction and demolition waste of approximately 20,000 tonnes per year.

The types of plastic most commonly found in waste were PVC piping, home siding products and film plastics, which are not managed by provincial Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs. Plastics containing PVC, such as in home siding products, cannot be readily recycled by processors in the region.

A slight increase in wood was also observed, with the majority being painted, pressure treated or glued. This type of wood can be used as an alternative fuel if authorized under emission permits. Asphalt shingles proportion of the waste stream dropped by an estimated 15,000 tonnes per year.

Metro Vancouver monitors the composition of the waste stream on a regular basis to track progress against the Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan goals. In recent years, several local municipalities have adopted demolition waste recycling bylaws to encourage reuse and recycling and to help meet the region’s diversion goals. All waste composition estimates are based on visual analysis at local landfills.