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Metro explores the latest trends emerging on the West Coast of Canada.

Vancouver trending: The business of zero waste

Eco-minded Vancouver is home to a number of businesses trying to eliminate all waste.

The town of Kamikatsu, Japan may offer a template for Vancouver's goal of decreasing waste.

The town’s 1,700 residents sort their trash into 34 different categories. The town has no incinerator and 80 per cent of the garbage is recycled. They are aiming for 100 per cent by 2020.

By comparison, Vancouver aims for a 50 per cent reduction of solid waste by 2020.

Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer said litter in the city is an increasing problem, but the city’s waste diversion goals are proving successful. The food scraps program, for instance, is widely praised, and other cities are beginning to look to Vancouver’s strategy as a “green plan for a world city,” Reimer said.

Several Vancouver businesses have adopted a zero waste policy of their own accord, and the city's eco-friendly consumers seem to be on board.

Co-founded by Brianne Miller and Paula Amiama, Zero Waste Market is Canada's first 100 per cent package-free grocery store. With a background in marine biology, Miller said she has “seen firsthand the devastating impacts of our food system has on the oceans."

Focusing on local, organic, and ethically sourced foods, the market enables customers to bring their own refillable containers for bulk dry goods and other groceries. With plans to launch a brick-and-mortar store by the end of this year, they have been hosting monthly pop-up shops at Patagonia (1994 West 4th Ave.) since October.

Miller said they are excited to see the zero waste movement growing and estimate that they have already prevented almost 1,000 containers from entering the landfill.

In North Vancouver, Bridge Brewing has a 99 per cent waste-free business. They mill their own grain and compost it when done, wash their caps so they can be reused, sell mostly glass growlers, and even lend out glasses with their kegs in order to reduce the use of plastic cups.

On a larger scale, Vancouver's Mattress Recycling is Western Canada's first and biggest mattress recycling company. To date, they've recycled over 350,000 mattresses.

Fiercely environmental, they recycle more than 90 per cent of each mattress. Owner Fabio Scaldaferri began the business in 2008, and since then, it has become a world leader in mattress recycling.

Other than the foam, all materials extracted at the depot are recycled locally, with wood becoming fuel or mulch, plastics turning into bottles, and cotton into upholstery.

Reimer noted it’s challenging to convince small, local businesses to adopt a zero waste policy, but she also pointed out that Vancouver companies are largely environmentally minded.

Businesses who work toward such policies are “pioneering certainty,” offering concrete examples of how eco-friendly companies can prosper while staying true to their values.

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