What got your organization thinking about sustainability?
As Burnaby’s largest retail and entertainment complex and third largest shopping centre in Canada, we’re committed to making a positive contribution to the community. We have integrated sustainable programs and practices for our shoppers, retailers, contractors and Metrotower Office Complex tenants, to make the mall and community a greener place for all of us to enjoy.
How did you decide what was most important to tackle first?
With 400 retailers and 29 million annual shoppers, we aim to continually improve our sustainable practices. This meant expanding our loading docks to have cardboard, paper, plastic, and glass recycling for retailers. As well, for our shoppers, we added separate paper and bottle recycling to our garbage stations throughout the centre.
During Spring 2015, we began working with our Food Court tenants with the implementation of designated back-of-house organic bins, which then were rolled out to all tenants.
How did the Metro Vancouver Organics Ban affect Metropolis at Metrotown?
During Fall 2015, four organic recycling stations launched in our busy, 1100 seat Food Court. We wanted to keep it simple for customers, so they just drop off their trays to one of the stations, and our team will separate the organics, plastics, paper, bottles/cans, and waste items.
In October, we saw a 95% increase in the weight of our organics being composted, 124% increase in November, and 86% increase in December, over the prior year. Customers quickly embraced the new organics recycling system, and while the stations have been operational for less than a year, this already shows a monthly reduction of over 30,000 kilograms of organic material being diverted from the landfill and properly composted.
What do you hope to achieve by making your business more sustainable?
We hope to continue to increase our diversion rate, to keep more recyclables and organics out of our landfills. Not only do we challenge ourselves to engage in eco-friendly activities, but we also support our partners and suppliers to do the same, including our large security and housekeeping teams. The Concord Security’s Parking Division introduced the first multi-purpose parking enforcement electric vehicle used to patrol the large 8,000 stall parkade and surface lots, and Marquise Facilities, a division of Compass Group Canada, ensures all their cleaning chemicals are green certified and dispensed through a system that measure the portions to reduce wastage.
What are your next steps and goals?
Our next initiative, set to launch this Spring, includes the addition of an organic recycling stream to all 80 of our waste receptacles in the common areas of the shopping centre.
What do you consider your biggest challenges?
With so many retailers, it can be challenging educating retail employees on the separation of various recyclable products, especially with the turnover of seasonal store staff. We aim to make the process simple and straight forward with communication in their Retailer Handbook, clear signage at the docks, and visits and education from mall management.
What was your motivation for joining the Pledge for a Sustainable Community and what have been its benefits?
We believe that by creating a green and more efficient retail and work environment, the more attractive the shopping experience will be to our customers. As BC’s largest shopping centre, not only did we want to continually push to deepen our sustainability, but also share our best practices and have the opportunity to learn what is working well for others.
What other sustainable programs does Metropolis take part in?
Throughout the year, Metropolis participates in a number of sustainable events including National Sweater Day, Earth Hour, and Earth Day. Also, through the Community Investment Fund program, Metropolis is able to support a variety of local non-profit organizations on their environmental programs including community school gardens, seed and cooking classes, environmental education and community art.