COVID-19 changed the way we throw out garbage in the Thompson-Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 changed the way we throw out garbage in the Thompson-Okanagan

FILE PHOTO - The Campbell Mountain landfill in the south Okanagan is pictured in this undated file photo. The amount of commercial waste regional districts dealt with fell last year but the shortfall was made up by an increase in curbside waste from residential sources, a pattern that echoed throughout the Thompson-Okanagan.
February 21, 2021 - 7:00 AM

A review of regional waste trends is revealing how the pandemic has affected lifestyles and business in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Regional landfills are compiling statistics on waste collection for 2020 and they have found interesting similarities with respect to how COVID-19 has even affected the garbage we produce.

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen says last year the main landfill at Campbell Mountain saw a 7.35 per cent drop in waste tonnage compared to 2019. That decrease came from a 16.5 per cent decline in commercial waste, which he calls “huge.”

“If I had to guess, waste flows are indicating a big drop in commercial activity, as waste from business is down very significantly," he says. "Most other waste types were either up or stable, but curbside garbage was up at all regional district landfills. That tells me people were at home generating waste, and that business activity was really affected by COVID-19."

Baughen said less waste coming into the landfill did not translate into fewer visits, as the landfill recorded more, smaller vehicles coming into the landfill and fewer commercial trucks. Activity through the scales was up by three per cent.

Regional District of Central Okanagan engineer Travis Kendal says they found similar landfill activity last year.

He’s still in the midst of analyzing last year’s data, but says the landfill did see an increase in volume of curbside waste last year.

“Hand in hand we’ve noticed a decrease in the amount of waste generated in the region’s commercial sector," Kendal says. "It seems as if the generation of waste has transitioned from the workplace to the home office."

He says the central Okanagan also saw an increase in smaller vehicles making dump trips last year.

At the Regional District of North Okanagan, diversion and disposals facilities manager Dale Danallanko says self-haulers, or non-commercial visits to the landfill were up 5.3 per cent last year.

The north Okanagan also saw a 16 per cent decrease in commercial loads coming into the landfill as part of a noticeable shift from industrial and commercial garbage to residential waste.

“Overall tonnage was essentially unchanged, but there were more residential haulers. The numbers are pretty much the same all across the province. It’s probably due to people eating at home more often, staying home and renovating, particularly at the start of the pandemic," Danallanko says. “We had unprecedented numbers using the landfill. One weekend alone we saw more than 1,500 vehicles cross the scales."

In the Thompson Nicola Regional District, waste reduction coordinator Andrew Roebbelen says they are still evaluating last year’s statistics but believes the landfill received more yard waste and demolition materials last year as people staying at home renovated their residences and worked to make their properties more wildfire smart.

“We definitely saw more small loads of construction and demolition waste. We also had a lot more inquiries from people asking what they could bring in,” Roebbelen says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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