Former Douglas students speaks about
By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
Last week The Other Press spoke to a former Douglas student and New Westminster resident about recycling, education, and what local businesses are doing to help Metro Vancouver meet its green waste recycling goals for the next decade. Michael House, Operations Manager at Urban Wood Waste Recycling, Western Canada’s largest recycling company, explained his story as a Douglas student and employee at a local leader in recycling.
“There was a synergistic relationship with my employment at Urban Wood Waste and my time at Douglas College. I started out at Douglas doing night courses while working graveyard at Urban Wood Waste while not knowing what the hell I wanted to do with my life,” explained House. “Through my work at Urban, and in the recycling industry, I ended up switching my major to environmental studies.”
“My experience in the recycling industry is what encouraged me to pursue what I studied at Douglas and what I studied helped me grow at Urban. I built my education on my work and my work on my education. I came to the point where I was working so much at Urban that I couldn’t continue my studies at Douglas. I never finished my degree, I stopped studying to focus on work, but my time at Douglas influenced and seriously helped me in my job.”
Metro Vancouver has set a goal to divert all green waste from landfill by 2020—a goal which local businesses like Urban Wood Waste are heavily involved in achieving.
“Metro Vancouver has established some extremely ambitious targets for recycling for the next 10 years or so and Harvest Power, through their companies Urban Wood Waste and Fraser Richmond Soil & Fibre, is one of the forerunners in helping Metro Vancouver reach those goals,” said House.
“Cities like Portland, Oregon are far ahead of Metro and are experiencing recycling rates of up to 70 per cent for their entire green waste,” said House. “Metro Vancouver is at 54 per cent. We’re getting there.”
House spoke of the foundation of Urban Wood Waste and how one man’s dream became a recycling giant.
“The founder of the company saw an opportunity and he built on it. His initial goals may have been personal profit and his initial goal may have been recycling-minded, but in the end, he cared about what he did and he built the company into what it is,” said House. “His initial goal was to process 50 metric tonnes a day. In last 20 years, Urban Wood Waste grew to produce 800 metric tonnes per day of material with about a 75-80 per cent recovery rate. Sean passed away two years ago and the company was left to his wife then subsequently purchased by Harvest Power. Harvest has continued Shawn’s vision of making Urban Wood Waste a recycling leader in Metro Vancouver.”