FVRD waste plan approved as Metro backs away from incinerator

Fresh on the heels of Metro Vancouver’s cancellation of its plan to build another garbage incinerator, the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) received approval for its solid waste management plant from the Environment Ministry.

“We applaud Minister [Mary] Polak’s decision which will allow for the establishment of policy and regulation that will encourage private sector investment, innovation and competition, while meeting the plan’s target of 90 per cent diversion in the next 10 years,” said FVRD chair and Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz said in a press release.

The FVRD’s plan focuses on mixed waste material recovery, a sophisticated way to divert as much as possible material from the waste stream and improve recycling.

“By working together with the private sector, and taking advantage of economies of scale, the FVRD hopes to lead by example and implement a true Zero Waste management system in British Columbia,” according to a press release issued Tuesday.

The FVRD release reiterated that mixed waste material recovery is more cost effective than garbage incineration and has no negative impact on air quality.

Gaetz and other FVRD leaders have been vocal for years in opposition to Metro Vancouver’s plan to build a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant in the region.

On Dec. 10, Metro announced it discontinued the procurement process for a WTE plant “due to uncertainty around future waste volumes and continued reduction in residual waste.”

“Metro Vancouver remains committed to waste-to-energy as the most sustainable technology solution for deriving benefits from residual waste after all efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Greg Moore, Chair of Metro Vancouver in a statement. “Given our collective achievement in recycling and waste reduction, the timeline for requiring additional capacity has been pushed forward by several years, enabling us to scale-up over time based on a growing population and predictable waste volumes.”

Metro already operates an incinerator in Burnaby, a facility long opposed by the FVRD due to air quality concerns.

In a statement in response to Metro’s cancellation of the plan, Gaetz had “high praise” for the decision but she said it did not placate the FVRD in any way because Metro continues to invest in improving emissions at the Burnaby plant.

“Continuing to invest in antiquated methods of waste reduction and greenwashing it with the term ‘waste-to-energy’ is rather disingenuous and a shameful waste of resources,” she said. “Quite simply, incinerating garbage is not efficient, clean, or safe. The toxic byproducts of burning garbage include known carcinogens. The FVRD is committed to supporting true Zero Waste strategies such as those found in material recovery facilities.”

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