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Hotel hits zero waste goal, education key

A simple colour-coded bin system, plus education, has helped one Vancouver hotel achieve a recycling rate that most municipalities only dream of.

Cascadia Hotel and Suites, with WasteLess Environmental Services, launched a zero waste program last spring with the goal of diverting 100 per cent of its waste from landfills.

Each room has a bin for common mixed recyclables, like plastic bottles and cans, a bin for organic material like food waste and paper, and a bin for non-recyclables. Materials like electronics, batteries and paint cans are collected on an as needed basis and recycled.

The program has been a huge success, according to general manager Dan McIlhone. Approximately 90 per cent of the hotel's total waste is recycled, and the remaining 10 per cent is sent to the Burnaby waste incinerator.

"It's something we worked hard on," said McIlhone. "We educated the guests that were in the rooms and had a lot of info sessions for staff as well."

Dave Roberts of WasteLess said his company is a consultant to the industrial and commercial sectors. Managing residential waste is more difficult because there are fewer controls, he said, but with training and education, "it's all very doable."

Metro Vancouver, which has a goal of recycling 70 per cent of its solid waste, has implemented a similar program at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby. In June, it kicked off a pilot project aimed at reducing game-day trash by 95 per cent. The project introduced recycling stations located throughout the venue, as well as sustainable purchasing policies for vendors and a public outreach campaign.

By mid-August, after just six games, the project had achieved a 70 per cent recycling rate.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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