The Metro Vancouver Zero ‘Cardboard’ Waste Challenge

January 29th, 2011
by Carrie

The Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Challenge is about reducing the waste we generate. From how we purchase to how we discard we all make daily decisions that impact how much garbage we send to the landfill. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to attend the local waste transfer station or dump I’m reminded that these mountains of trash don’t just magically disappear. I feel better knowing that thanks to recycling programs and initiatives such as the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Challenge that more than half (55%) of the 3.6 million tonnes of waste we create every year is kept out of the garbage.

The reality is that recycling programs of various types have been a part of our lives for decades. Recycling
programs – like the Blue Box – have existed in the region since as early as 1988. Of course recycling is good, but we all know that the best way to reduce waste is by not producing it in the first place.

Now let us talk about cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes have never been the best solution to packing belongings anyway, but that’s another blog post.


According the stats posted by the Greater Vancouver & Fraser Valley Real Estate Board – Statistic Archives,
in 2010, 43,683 Residential Properties were sold in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Pemberton to Abbotsford/Mission). These figures reflect the home sales only and do not touch on rental property move in and move outs.


    • Detached – 19,731 homes were sold
    • Townhomes -18,132 homes were sold
    • Condos – 15,820 homes were sold

In researching a few online moving box estimators ( and we have estimated that the average weight of a cardboard box is 1.3lbs. The approximate amount of boxes needed to relocate the above homes is as follows:

    • Detached – 60 cardboard boxes of various sizes
      Townhome – 40 cardboard boxes of various sizes
      Condominum - 20 cardboard boxes of various sizes

Based on these figures, we estimate that Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley home sales in 2010 would have generated a
need for the following amount of cardboard boxes:

    • Total Cardboard Boxes -1,825,540.00
    • Total Weight (lbs) - 2,373,202.00
    • Total Weight (metric tons) - 1,076.46

Minimizing the use of cardboard boxes not only significantly reduces the impact they have on our environment on a large scale, it can also have a considerable impact on our community on a local level by simply decreasing the volume of
cardboard waste that passes through our local Transfer Stations.

The real solution

Stop using cardboard boxes for relocation projects! There is a much faster, easier, cleaner, cost effective and eco-friendly way to move. It’s called Boxless Moving and it’s not new in fact it has been the norm in the UK and Australia for nearly 2 decades. It is however, new to North America and there are at least half a dozen companies in the Lower Mainland such as, It’s Your Move, that will deliver re-usable moving crates and supplies to your home or office.

I’m not sure why this strategy hasn’t been included as one of the strategies in the Zero Waste Challenge, but it should.

Move box free and save a tree!

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