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CRD to keep exploring options for construction waste as officials stress reuse

31,200 tonnes of buiding materials sent to Hartland annually
Unbuilders deconstruct a building on Fort Street in downtown Victoria. Crews are salvaging materials from the building as it’s torn down. (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)

While the goal is to divert the Captial Regional District’s construction waste from the landfill via reducing use and recycling, finding provincially required beneficial use for the building scraps remains a challenge.

One fifth – 31,200 tonnes – of all the materials sent to Hartland Landfill comes from construction, renovation and demolition waste.

The CRD reached out to companies it has contracted to pilot biosolid gasification and other thermal processing to see if their facilities could also handle building waste. While the three companies said they had the technical abilities to process construction materials, they faced permitting and other logistical barriers in making short-term pilots feasible.

The CRD will proceed with a short-term pilot where some of the waste gets sent to the Richmond Lafarge plant to be used as an alternative fuel.

With that information, the CRD’s environment committee, at its June meeting, gave staff permission to keep exploring emerging waste management technologies. Staff said any emerging technologies that the CRD would consider are ones that have already been commercialized elsewhere.

The potential end products from those technologies could include things like heat, syngas and biochar, staff said.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said it seemed like gasification had been considered for years but the region hasn’t made any headway in using the waste stream. He later said he regrets the CRD not pursuing it harder years ago.

“We wouldn’t have been here now if we had.”

READ: CRD looks to gasification, other pilots as possible long-term waste solutions

Larisa Hutcheson, manager of parks and environmental services, said the region is constantly learning as it explores options. She used the example of how the CRD is piloting shredding its construction waste and its adjusting that practice based on standards required by processing facilities.

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor said there needs to be an onus on residents to reduce their waste, noting many just went through the “great pandemic purge” as people, including himself, used the extra spare time to clear the excess filling their homes.

He said the region also needs to consider the resulting emissions from transporting waste off the Island compared to finding a local solution – other than sending stuff to landfill.

“We need to act sooner rather than later,” Windsor said, noting the need for a solution is making him warm up to less-politically popular avenues similar to Burnaby’s waste-to-energy burning plant.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps rejected that the only options are shipping or burning waste, pointing to how Victoria is looking at deconstruction so materials can be reused. She voted against exploring more gasifying or incinerating options.

“I think we should look for creative and thoughtful ways to have less garbage and a deconstruction bylaw across the region would achieve what we are trying to achieve with a heck of a lot less taxpayer money spent.” Follow us on Instagram. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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