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It is time to start thinking responsibly about waste. As a business in the downtown core, you are equipped with the necessary tools to considerably reduce the amount of waste entering the Hartland landfill. Repurposing, composting, upcycling, and reducing consumption are just some of the ways you can work towards a zero waste business. Reap the cost savings and improved staff morale that comes from making sustainable waste management a priority within your business.

The trash vortex is an area the size of Texas in the North Pacific in which an estimated six kilos of plastic for every kilo of natural plankton, along with other slow degrading garbage, swirls slowly around like a clock, choked with dead fish, marine mammals, and birds who get snared. Some plastics in the gyre will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw them away”.
–Greenpeace International


Scope 1: Reduce Waste

"Reduce" is the golden child of the 3Rs and is the most effective in minimizing your ecological footprint. As a business owner, it is important to ask the question “Do we really need this?” or “How much of these do we really need?” It is not surprising that we often buy unnecessary goods that are both costly and wasteful.

Offer customers the opportunity of purchasing half portions, at a reduced cost, which will save money on expensive product ingredients and create less waste.


"Paper and paperboard account for almost 40 percent of garbage".
- U.S. EPA estimates

Are you a paper pusher? The typical workplace is hooked on the stuff. Below are some tips for reducing paper usage in the office:

  • Use both sides of the sheet for printing, copying, writing and drawing
  • Reuse paper that's already printed on one side by manually feeding it into copiers and printers
  • Use e-mail  to share documents and ideas
  • Practice efficient copying — use the size reduction feature offered on many copiers
  • Reuse old paper for notepads
  • Condense your archive system to reduce the use of excess file folders


Carefully managing your procurement practices will make your business lean and low-waste. Some key things to keep in mind:

  • Consider purchasing used equipment, renting or leasing
  • Choose durable, long-life products of high quality
  • Take into account the total cost of the product (which includes maintenance and disposal costs and are usually higher on low-quality items)

For more information on purchasing, see the DVBA Green Index Purchasing Section


From individually-wrapped bananas to USB drives embedded in rigid plastic wrap or Styrofoam 10 times the product's size, packaging can be excessive and costly. Try to source items with minimal packaging and shift towards products packaged in biodegradable/recyclable materials. Steer away from soft plastics, STYROFOAM, and foil lined items.

Call your suppliers and request that packaging be reduced and more sustainable options be utilized. It is crucial for suppliers to know that sustainability is important to their customers. They will shift if you will!


Reusing extends the life of the product and helps keep landfills skinny. The sky is the limit, so don’t be afraid to be creative. Below are some tips for reusing in the workplace:

  • Reuse cardboard or metal boxes for storage purposes at the workplace
  • Reuse envelopes for internal office mail
  • Purchase refillable items (ie: use refillable toner cartridges for laser printers)
  • Repair old equipment before throwing it out
  • Write with pencil on file folders so you can reuse them
  • Switch from cardboard boxes to reusable containers for shipping

Buy food and guest amenities in bulk (ie: use refillable hair and skin care dispensers) and provide reusable cloth napkins, glass cups, ceramic dishes, etc. with all food and beverage services.

Extend the life of products you would otherwise recycle! For example, Synergy collects 4L milk jugs from a downtown coffee shop to hold their eco-commercial cleaning product line, SoapX.

Scope 2: Divert Waste

"With the resources in Downtown Victoria, it is possible to have a zero-trash business!"
-Jill Doucette, Synergy

Zero Garbage Waste Management System: 7 Steams of Waste

Virtually all waste in Victoria can be recycled or composted rather than being sent to the Hartland landfill. Below are the 7 different streams of waste. Often, loads that are heavily contaminated (poorly sorted) are taken to the landfill because the labor required to sort is too great. Clear signage and proper streams will assure your products are properly recycled.

  1. Paper
    Office copier paper, flyers, newspaper, envelopes, file folders
  2. Cardboard
    All corrugated paperboard, including cereal box cardboard
  3. Metal, Glass, Hard Plastics
    Pop bottles, liquor bottles, glass bottles, conventional plastic milk jugs, tin, aluminum, steel, Plastics #1-7
  4. Soft Plastics
    Shrink wrap, plastic shopping bags, clean food wrap
  5. Cartons (non-foil lined)
    Gable-top milk cartons, soy milk, soup containers
  6. Organics
    Compostable items such as coffee grounds, wooden stir sticks and food scraps
  7. Other
    e-waste, small appliances, Styrofoam, batteries, oil, wood pallets, light bulbs

Power Smart will pick up your old fridge, recycle it and pay you $30. Click here for more details.

Waste Management Service Providers

Becoming a zero waste business isn’t just good for the environment, it can help you realize drastic cost savings by reducing the frequency of garbage pick-up. With the planned ban on all organic waste at Hartland Landfill, it is timely to employ these systems and gain buy-in and compliance from employees to avoid expensive transition costs.

Talk to your local waste management suppliers that serve downtown Victoria. There are services available for every size of business. If you need help getting the systems together, consult with a waste management professional like reFUSE, Ellice, Organico, or Synergy.

Downtown Business Service

The reCYCLISTS pick-up your compost and recycling on bikes! The DVBA has partnered with this provider so members can enjoy pick-up services at sustainable rates. Click here for a break-down of pricing.  Just call the reCYCLISTS at 250-386-2111.

Downtown Business Service for Restaurants, Large Offices, and Hotels

reFUSE handles compost and recycling pick-up for establishments with higher volumes. (Cost: $200/month for weekly compost pick-up of two 240L totes)

Organico Waste Recovery Systems handles compost pick-up and processes it at a facility near Elk Lake. (Cost: $25 per 240L bin)

Ellice Recycle handles almost all areas of recycling, from fluorescent tubes to carpet and drywall. See the list of accepted items. Most recycling streams are $9 per visit.

Sauce Restaurant began composting and recycling soft plastics, cartons, and Styrofoam. They divert 960L of compost from the landfill every week; that’s enough to fill a large hot tub!

How to Maintain a Zero Garbage Waste Management System

  1. Look at what is landing in your trash cans after installing this system. What items can be replaced with something reusable or recyclable?
  2. Make good signs with clear pictures of what is to be deposited in each stream
  3. Put paper towel bins in washrooms; these can be added to organics recycling

If you are looking to implement a comprehensive waste management system in your business, local environmental consulting company, Synergy, can help you develop this. Synergy has installed waste management systems in 10 local businesses ranging from coffee shops to office buildings (250-686-7861).

Going Further: Upcycling, Reclaiming and Repurposing

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Upcycling maintains or improves the quality of the materials, whereas traditional recycling (downcycling) reduces the quality of the materials.

Reclaiming is the process of reclaiming something from loss or from a less useful condition. Victoria's own Habit Coffee reclaimed wood flooring from many wreck sites to piece together the work-of-art flooring that exists in their new Atrium location. The rustic white lamp fixtures are reclaimed from an old mine site.

Repurposing is using something for a different purpose than of which the product was originally intended, on a long-term basis and without fundamental alteration.  For example, weaving old linens together to form a rug would be considered repurposing. Level Ground Trading sends their used coffee bags to Work of Your Hand. Work of Your Hand then converts the package into crafts and accessories.

Giving Back to the Community

When you have no reusable function for your products, consider donating them to a local charity. There are several second-hand stores in and near the downtown core that would graciously accept items including The Salvation Army, Value Village, and Women in Need (WIN). The Salvation Army and Value Village also accept electronics.

Swans donate used spelt grain and cooking oil to Kindwood farms for feed and farm truck fuel.

Oughtred, a locally owned coffee roaster, donates their burlap coffee sacs to local farmers and craftsman. One of these is called Island Java Bags.

Local hot-spot, Canoe Brew Pub, has put in a huge effort to management their waste responsibly.

  • Cooking oils are recycled for bio-fuel
  • Multi-stream recycle/compost system
  • Left-over food is donated to Our Place
  • Spent brewery grain goes to a local pig farmer

Learn More

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