Metro Vancouver's existing waste-to-energy incinerator in south Burnaby burns 280

Metro Vancouver's existing waste-to-energy incinerator in south Burnaby burns 280

Metro Vancouver should end garbage incineration: study

Report from CCPA criticizes carbon emissions from waste-to-energy plants

A new report urges Metro Vancouver not to build any new waste-to-energy plants and that its existing garbage incinerator in Burnaby be phased out.

Those are among the recommendations in a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Its paper titled “Closing the Loop” examines solid waste policy through the prism of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and encouraging green industries.

Author Marc Lee takes aim in part at Metro Vancouver’s advancing strategy of building a new waste-to-energy plant to consume 370,000 tonnes of garbage by 2018, ending the region’s use of the Cache Creek regional landfill.

The Burnaby incinerator, which burns 280,000 tonnes of waste per year, is a heavy carbon emitter even using disputed official estimates, according to the report, making it a considerably worse source of electricity than burning natural gas.

“Incineration has adverse consequences for health and GHG emissions, and requires a steady stream of waste that is inconsistent with zero waste objectives,” the report said.

In particular, it notes plastics and paper – key materials that should be diverted for recycling – contribute the most energy when burned.

“Programs that succeed in reducing waste could, perversely, be a challenge for incinerators needing to run at high enough temperatures to reduce the formation of toxic compounds.”

From a climate change perspective, it said, landfilling plastics and wood products would be preferable to incineration, because it would be a form of carbon storage, even though other strategies to reduce, reuse and recycle would be better.

Incineration doesn’t make garbage disappear, it said, noting at least 22 per cent is typically reduced to ash that still must be landfilled, while heavy metals and other toxins can escape.

“Even if energy is produced from incineration, it is uneconomic energy as it destroys useful materials that are costly to replace from virgin sources.”

The report also urges province-wide composting and a phase-out of single-use products and packaging.

Materials that are toxic or non-recyclable should be either banned or tightly regulated.

It also says B.C. needs to develop green manufacturing or reprocessing industries, but admits it will be challenging.

Public investments will be needed, it says, to support a shift away from landfills and incinerators in favour of waste reduction, reuse, repair and maintenance, and finally recycling and composting.

No estimate is provided of the public cost, but the report argues fees to landfill or incinerate garbage should be steadily increased to create an advantage for diversion.

It also notes much of what’s considered recycling is really “down-cycling” – degrading something like high-quality plastic to lower-grade uses like plastic wood.

The study admits its ultimate “closed loop” vision of a low-waste society where appliances, for example, are repaired and reused for far longer than today is at odds  with an open economy that freely allows imports and exports, as well as consumers’ penchant for quickly discarding tech gadgets in favour of new models.

“Meaningful progress will be difficult,” it said, but argued changes made now will be “much less painful than if we wait for nature to impose its own limits tomorrow.”

Nineteen firms are in the running to build a new waste-to-energy plant for Metro Vancouver.

Over the next two years the regional district is to determine a preferred technology and identify potential sites.

Just Posted

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

web
Father’s Day Parade planned for Mission

Classic vehicles from the 1920s to the 1970s will drive through Mission, Hatzic on June 20

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A 34-year-old man was arrested Monday after Transit Police found him riding a SkyTrain with a shotgun in the front of his sweatpants. (Transit Police)
SkyTrain passenger arrested, charged for concealing shotgun in his sweatpants

Codty-James Gray, 34, was found with ammunition, brass knuckles and knives

Most Read