It’s been decades since incineration was phased out by Island communities as they moved to more environmental methods for dealing with garbage.
Now the Capital Regional District has put burning back on the agenda, albeit at a very preliminary stage of planning for the future of the area’s landfill.
Despite the discussion being in its infancy, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said it’s important enough to get the public involved now.
“I’m not sure the public knows about this,” Fortin said. “Let’s face it, we’re (talking about) burning garbage.”
The CRD board had a chance to mull over a $60,000-feasibility report of energy recovery options and identified possible issues around the financial benefits and public perception of incinerating household waste, and possibly sewage.
Metro Vancouver is further along in the planning process for a new waste-to-energy incineration facility, which would be built in Gold River. The Ministry of Environment is expected to decide this week whether it will approve the Lower Mainland plan, which involves barging waste to the Island town. Transporting waste from Greater Victoria, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley for incineration in Gold River was also considered in the report.
“We’re nowhere near where the province wants us to be for recycling before they’ll even look at incineration for garbage (in the CRD),” said Saanich Counc. Judy Brownoff, noting that she has yet to personally come around to the benefits of burning trash.
B.C. has a 70 per cent waste diversion rate goal. The Capital Region is currently at 43 per cent diversion.
The Tri-Regional District Solid Waste Study, which looks at the Island from Nanaimo south, was funded by the province and prepared by environmental company Aecom.
The study looks at how to turn waste into liquid ethanol, which could be treated to make electricity, and at a newer technology called “plasma gasification.” Also considered was a stand alone mass burn facility in the CRD.
A tri-regional waste-to-energy facility would receive an estimated 200,000 tonnes per year of waste. Hartland Landfill currently receives 140,000 tonnes annually and is projected to serve the region until 2035.
CRD staff will incorporate the study’s findings into the core area liquid waste management plan and report back on Oct. 12 to the liquid waste management committee.
By the numbers:
Cost of incinerating garbage, per tonne
Mass burn (tri-regional): $84 to $98; (CRD alone): $42 per tonne.
Gasification to ethanol: $136 per tonne
Plasma gasification to electricity: $152-155.