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Construction waste puts Metro Vancouver recycling facilities at capacity

Waste from construction and demolition sites are piling up so quickly that recycling facilities are having a tough time keeping up with demand.

'We're very busy right now. This facility receives about 500 tonnes a day,' says CEO of Harvest Power

Harvest Power CEO Christian Kasper says his New Westminster construction and demolition waste facility is operating at capacity. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Waste from construction and demolition sites are piling up so quickly that recycling facilities say they're having a tough time keeping up with demand. 

"We're very busy right now," said Christian Kasper, president and CEO of Harvest Power.

"This [New Westminster] facility receives about 500 tones per day, that's our maximum permitted capacity and that is what we are taking in right now." 

Studies conducted by Metro Vancouver show an increase of almost 40 per cent in construction waste from 2011 to 2015. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Studies conducted by Metro Vancouver show an increase of almost 40 per cent in construction waste from 2011 to 2015, and Vancouver's housing market is most likely the cause. 

"The development in the area has skyrocketed in the last few years, and as a result of that we're seeing a lot of demolition and new construction. That's just the nature of what's going on," said Albert Shamess, director of waste management at the City of Vancouver. 

Harvest Power says it's operating at maximum permitted capacity and has truck loads unloading waste constantly. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Metro Vancouver, which overlooks and licenses these private facilities, said while there currently are a dozen of them in the city, there is room for more. 

"We see an opportunity for more recycling of that material," said Paul Henderson, general manager of solid waste services with Metro Vancouver. 

Harvest Power takes 500 tonnes of construction and demolition waste per day. It extracts the clean wood, metals, cardboard and plastics. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Harvest Power already operates two construction recycling facilities in Metro Vancouver. 

"There is a lot of activity here and we are looking to expand the business and grow this marketplace," said Kasper. 

Harvest power claims it diverts more than 50 per cent of the material that it takes in. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

But Kasper said it's challenging to find a suitable location because residents aren't keen to have a recycling facility in their backyard. 

He also said that getting a permit takes some time, but the interest and willingness to expand is there.

"All you need to do is look at the Vancouver skyline and see all the cranes. There is lots of construction going on right now in Metro Vancouver that produces a lot of waste," he said. 

The company then takes the clean wood and turns it into biofuel for Vancouver. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

About the Author

Tina Lovgreen

Video Journalist

Tina is a Video Journalist with CBC Vancouver. Send her an email at tina.lovgreen@cbc.ca