Press Release – New initiative aims to achieve nothing

Vancity sponsors zero-waste events to keep garbage out of landfills

July 29, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – A new initiative called Zero Waste Events is aiming to divert up to 94 per cent of summer event waste from local landfills.

The first Zero Waste Event – Car Free Day on Commercial Drive in June – diverted 63 per cent of its waste from the landfill. This saved more than 700 kg of greenhouse gas emissions which is equivalent of keeping two cars off the road for one month.

The Vancouver Food Cart Fest has diverted more than 90 per cent of waste during the first four weekends of the festival, saving 134 large bags of waste from the landfill. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equal to taking seven cars off the road for a month. Continue reading…

Press Release – GreenHUB opens on the Southeast False Creek Flats

Recycling Alternative sets the foundation for a new centre in the collaborative economy

June 3, 2014 Vancouver, BC On June 1, Recycling Alternative took its place as the founding company of the new GreenHUB, a recycling co-location model that just opened its doors in the False Creek Flats.

Back in 2009, Louise Schwarz and Robert Weatherbe, co-founders of Recycling Alternative, conceived of a collaborative model in which Continue reading…

Trash Talk: Reading between the lines – ‘One Bag Does Not Fit All’

We recyclers need to read between the lines when we hear people waxing on the wonders of Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF’s) and the fact that these systems are a viable alternative to good old, tried and true source separation.

Proponents of MRF’s suggest that with these systems, residents will be able to throw all their waste – recyclables, composting and garbage – into one big bag. Once at the MRF these bags will be opened and all the valuable recyclables retrieved for diversion.

What supporters of these systems sometimes fail to mention, is that once the recyclables have been mixed in with everything else, especially wet waste and compost, very little of it is good enough or clean enough to be shipped to recycling markets.

Recycling paper mills do not want the paper, as it is of very low quality once contaminated with shards of glass or food, and few compost facilities want the wet material, as it is not of a standard to re-enter the agricultural cycle.

Keeping the streams separate and clean (as they are when we buy them in product lines on the shelf at the store!) is the best way to ensure these materials will go to recycling markets. This is called source separation and it is they key to maintaining high recovery and robust recycling markets.

When reading articles such as this, on the merits of throwing recycling, composting and garbage into the same bag – we need to ask 2 questions:

  1. What % of materials going through a MRF go to recycling markets and what % goes to landfill?
  2. What is the quality of the recycling markets – are these materials turned into more product with high recovery value or considerably downgraded?

And let’s keep in mind – we already have the ‘one bag solution’ – it’s called garbage collection and it’s exactly what the region is trying to move away from in our efforts to get to 70% diversion and Zero Waste.,0

Ask the experts: How do I establish a successful food scraps and recycling program at the office?

Business In Vancouver – Ask the experts: How do I establish a successful food scraps and recycling program at the office?

Tue Oct 1, 2013 12:01am PST


Ask the experts: How do I establish a successful food scraps and recycling program at the office?

Engagement and reward are keys to successful workplace recycling and composting programs Continue reading…

Don’t Throw It All Away

BC Homes – Don’t Throw It All Away:

Catherine Owen | May 14th, 2013


Awareness of the importance of recycling has been growing steadily in the Lower Mainland. Access to recycling facilities has risen since the 1990s, but condo and apartment owners are still at a disadvantage. Some buildings don’t offer recycling facilities. Others have limited options. While single-family homes achieved a 55 per cent diversion from the landfill in 2011, condominiums only saw a 16 per cent decrease in waste. The lack of recycling services means many residents will throw their garbage in the trash can instead, remarks Louise Schwarz of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Challenge. But condo and apartment owners can make a difference. Continue reading…

Less is more in the recycling business

VanCity Investing in Communities – Stories of Impact
Fall 2012


Some businesses seek to fill the world with their products. But for Recycling Alternative it’s all about getting to zero—zero waste, that is.

More than 20 years ago, Robert Weatherbe offered his friend Louise Schwarz some help to advance her passion for recycling. Today, he and Louise co-own of one of Canada’s most creative recycling companies, Recycling Alternative. Continue reading…

Food-scraps recycling fails in eco-friendly Olympic village

UBC Journalism News Service – The Thunderbird 

By Reyhana Heatherington
October 17, 2012



Louise Schwarz talks trash or more precisely she talks about the virtues of reducing trash, but it seems condo residents in the eco-friendly Olympic village do not.

On July 10, the city funded a pilot project to eliminate food scrap waste in the Olympic village. It set up an easily accessible composting location but all residents had to do was use it. But three months later, the project closed because not enough people were taking advantage of it.

Schwarz, co-founder of Recycling Alternative, said she expected residents to use the centralized drop bins more, especially considering that the city claims it is one of the greenest neighbourhoods in North America.

“I was surprised. I mean, the Olympic village is perfect; it’s just waiting to happen…but we didn’t quite get the numbers.” Continue reading…