York Region achieves 5% decline in waste

Four years after implementing the SM4RT Living Plan, York Region has achieved a five per cent decline in waste and is crediting “everyday behaviour changing habits” by residents and businesses that include taking advantage of Repair Cafés.

Repair Cafés are free events that connect people who need items repaired with volunteer ‘fixers’ who bring life back to belongings like small appliances, garden tools, electronics and bicycles with the goal of reducing waste. Two repair Cafés were held at the NewMakeIt collaborative space in 2017 and this concept is spreading across the Region, with six Repair Cafés planned this year at local libraries and cafés.

That example is among several spotlighted in the The Balanced Scorecard report. It provides an update on all 32 initiatives that are outlined in the SM4RT Living Integrated Waste Management Plan and fall under one of four categories: reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.

“A five per cent decline in waste after only four years of implementing the SM4RT Living Plan is encouraging news,” York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson says. “This report celebrates the efforts of residents and our local cities and towns while identifying ways we can improve for the future.”

York Region is among the first municipalities in Canada to commit to targets on waste reduction and continues to rank first among large municipalities in Ontario for waste diversion. In the most recent ranking, the Region was first overall in the province. The Region actively participates in waste reduction pilots and programs as part of this plan. Between 2014 and 2017 initiatives also included:

• Reducing waste through backyard composting, yard waste and Good Food programs.
• Reuse activities focusing on curbside giveaways events and textile collection.
• Recycling activities, with 13 pilot programs including work with multi-residential buildings and waste-related advocacy meetings.
• Recovering resources from waste at its end of life through high-performing facilities such as the Durham York Energy Centre.

“York Region’s leadership is encouraging others to adopt long-term strategies to tackle waste reduction,” said City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, Chair of Environmental Services. “Our residents are at the heart of these initiatives. Over the past four years, thousands of residents have participated in activities focused on reducing waste.”

York Region will soon conduct a five-year review to set priorities for the SM4RT Living Plan including review of legislation and strategy to adapt to regulatory changes, assessing emerging technology and prioritizing a work plan for the next five years. For more information on the SM4RT Living Plan, visit york.ca/sm4rtliving.

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