Risks Associated with Waste Incineration
What the Waste to Energy Industry is Not Telling You
Webinar: Friday, May 30, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Please join us for this webinar where a panel of experts and public interest advocates will discuss the economic, environmental and public health risks posed by waste incineration, and the impacts felt by communities that have built them.
Metro Vancouver has a plan to build a new waste incinerator in BC. So far, three communities have been identified as potential sites (Delta, Nanaimo and Port Mellon) but six more sites are still to be announced.
There will be increasing pressure on these communities to accept the proposed incinerator, but the outcome is far from inevitable. In recent years, Powell River, Kamloops, Port Moody, Nanaimo and Christina Lake have all stopped proposals to burn waste in their communities.
Hosted by Zero Waste BC, Zero Waste Canada and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, this webinar will feature guest speakers from Detroit, San Francisco and BC, speaking about the multiple risks posed by incinerators, as well as better waste management options for communities to consider.
Russell Brewer, Councillor, City of Powell River
Moderated by Jamie Kaminski, Zero Waste Canada
Ahmina Maxey, Coordinator, Zero Waste Detroit Coalition
Bradley Angel, Director, Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice
If you wish to join the webinar, please RSVP Jenna Ralston at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, May 27th.
An email with webinar/call information will be sent to you, after you have responded. Also, please share this invitation with any colleagues or friends that may be interested.
Today I sat in on a meeting of the Sunshine Coast Regional District Board where MMBC's Allen Langdon was briefing the politicians about the new stewardship program for PPP (packaging and printed paper) which will be rolling out in 24 days.
The meeting was very tense, with the politicians struggling to articulate the many basic questions about the program that still have not been resolved -- like, what will it look like?
One question that came up: what is MMBC planning to do with the "residuals" -- non-recyclable materials that are collected in the program. Would they be burning those residuals in an incinerator? This was the allegation made by a well-known, award-winning local recyc
ler, linking the MMBC program to Metro Vancouver's plan to build an incinerator, possibly right up the Sound in Port Mellon.
Langdon insisted that the recycler was "misinformed" and repeated several times that MMBC had no plan to incinerate residuals, but would be landfilling them instead.
It may be true that MMBC has no such plan at this time. However, they will be up against pressure coming from Metro Vancouver to force them to burn their residuals.
This is a component of Metro Vancouver's new solid waste management plan
. Section 3.3.3 of Metro's plan, on page 26, says that the region will request the provincial government
to develop "requirements for existing and future stewardship programs to use the non-recyclable portion of returned material as fuel rather than landfilling."
It may not be MMBC's plan at this time to burn residuals, but it clearly is Metro Vancouver's plan. And that plan has been approved by the province.
NOTE: In Europe, where the concept of producer responsibility for packaging was introduced in 1991, producers are obligated to achieve targets just as they are under our regulation. But the European directive
was amended in 2003 so that the targets don't require recycling any more.
Since 2008, "at least 60 % by weight of packaging waste [is required] to be recovered or incinerated at waste incineration plants with energy recovery".
The Directive underscores the point: [t]he incineration of waste at plants with energy recovery is regarded as contributing to the realisation of these objectives.
Is this where we're headed in BC, with Metro Vancouver's help?
What is this all about?
One visitor to the blog recognized the plant in this video clip. S/he pointed out that this plant is not sorting materials collected in the City of Vancouver.
Right! If it had been a load of City materials, paper and containers would not have been mixed together on the conveyor belt. Vancouver is one of the few remaining cities in the Metro region that ask households to separate their recyclables into three streams: newsprint, mixed household paper, and containers.
The recycling plant pictured here sorts materials from the growing number of cities in our region (and across North America) that offer single stream recycling. Households put all their recyclable materials in one container, leaving it to someone else to sort them out.
If you think (as I do) that this looks like a pretty awful job, standing at a speeding conveyor for 8 hours a day, consider this: what if it was not just recyclable materials flowing by, but mixed garbage?
The garbage industry is preparing to build three mixed waste processing plants
, where people at conveyor belts like this will split open garbage bags and sort through the contents looking for recyclable and compostable materials. The proposal met with resistance
from existing recyclers.
The rationale for the garbage-sorting plants is that people living in apartments and condos are never going to be convinced to sort their recyclable materials out of their garbage.