Metro Vancouver halts incinerator plans, as waste plummets

Metro Vancouver is re-thinking its plan to build another waste incinerator now that people are throwing less garbage out and diverting waste more to recycling and compost.

The chair of the Regional District says a few months ago the proposed plant size was halved, but now they are not even sure there is enough garbage to feed the smaller 250,000-tonne plant.

So they are turning back to the landfill to handle the region’s solid waste, but only temporarily, while they reevaluate the plan.

“With that decrease, and that uncertainty of our waste flow we thought it was best that we stop the current process,” Greg Moore told CBC in an interview on Thursday.

Waste-to-energy plants, like the one just built in Peel, Ontario and those popular in Europe, are better than landfills, added Moore who expects one will eventually be built.

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“We know [a waste-to energy facility] is best for the environment instead of putting it in the ground and letting it rot there forever and it’s the most economical,” said Moore.

He said municipal efforts to get people recycling and composting are making a huge difference, cutting the amount of waste produced to 62 per cent of everything that’s thrown out, about half of what regional officials were planning for even five years ago.

With different technologies emerging regional officials are looking carefully at what works best, given the waste people throw out.

“We can see [waste-to-energy facilities like gasification plants] emerging all around the world, especially in Europe,” said Moore.

He expects the region will keep researching and pick the best kind of waste-to-energy model, at the right size, in the next year or so.

Not everybody is as keen on that vision.

A group with a smokestack-shaped mascot called the Burn Free Coalition dogged Metro Vancouver politicians who supported a new incinerator during the election in the fall of 2015, urging them to think of other solutions that would not hurt the Fraser Valley’s air quality.

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