Thursday, June 26, 2008
In a Province article this week, Anton opined that waste-to-energy technology is a "viable solution": "There are miniscule emissions.... they are not like the old incinerators pumping smoke through the Fraser Valley.... New waste-to-energy facilities are light years different from the past. In Europe, they put them in the middle of their towns.... The technologies out there seem to be working."
Surrey Councillor Marvin Hunt was the only regional politician I spotted in the audience and he fielded some questions after the talk. After the meeting he expressed interest in the "Resource Recovery Park" concept that Connett introduced in his talk. (We will be posting Connett's talk on this blog very soon.)
The next event of note is the July 9th meeting of the Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee, where Zero Waste Vancouver will present a position opposing waste-to-energy incinerators and making recommendations for alternatives. The public is welcome to attend these meetings, which are held at 1:00 pm in the second-floor Boardroom at the Metro Vancouver Headquarters, 4330 Kingsway (Patterson skytrain station).
I will make no posts to this blog until I return from a trip on July 8th.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
You could have heard a pin drop in the audience during Connett's slide show. He covered the reasons we need to take a "front end" approach to our waste problem rather than wasting money and time on "back end" facilities that destroy resources.
Four of New Westminster's six city councillors took the time to attend the session. It will be interesting to see how many members of the Metro Waste Management Committee are in the Coast Plaza Ballroom tonight.
Zero Waste Vancouver sent two notices of the event to the elected leaders who sit on the Metro Waste Management Committee. Burnaby Councillor Dan Johnston sent regrets due to a prior commitment, saying "I am not sure whether I am pro or con on the issue of Waste to energy."
Johnston is a thoughtful politician who has made good contributions to the Waste Committee's work (we have him to thank that Metro has budgeted funds for composting this year -- he caught the omission last November).
However, it is getting late in the day for elected politicians to demur on this issue. After all, they approved the "Strategy for Updating the Solid Waste Management Plan" as well as the borrowing bylaw that authorizes borrowing of a quarter billion dollars for waste to energy (identified as a "Major Capital Project").
Tonight Zero Waste Vancouver will formally launch a campaign to prevent the Metro incinerators from going ahead. We will be seeking support from citizens in the region when we appear as a delegation to the Waste Management Committee on July 9th to state our position opposing the incineration plants and presenting recommendations for alternatives.
In the interview, Marvin Hunt, Surrey Counselor and Chair of the Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee, defends the plan to build 3-6 "Waste to Energy" incinerators. Meanwhile, Patricia Ross, Abbotsford Counselor and Chair of the Fraser Valley Air Quality and Environment Committee, voices concerns about incineration and its potential effects on the fragile Fraser Valley airshed.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The articles linked below provide a welcome perspective from outside our region, along with the sales pitches from some of the contenders for managing our waste.
Headings shown here are taken from the original magazine, with permission from the publisher.
- "Metro Vancouver's New Waste Plan" is the feature article and cover story. Monica Kosmak recounts the unfolding story of Metro Vancouver's waste management challenges and explains the new proposed solid waste management plan with its controversial "waste to energy" component.
- "Metro Vancouver and the Zero Waste Debate" is the lead editorial by Guy Crittenden, editor of the magazine. This is recommended reading, as he has some interesting things to say about the public's expectations of municipal waste management and about Zero Waste Vancouver!
A series of short articles focus on some of Metro Vancouver's possible waste management strategies:
OPTION: More Waste to Energy
"Waste to Energy in Metro Vancouver: Is Smaller Better," by Ron Richter, who makes a pitch for several small incinerators (His company, Veolia, operates Metro Vancouver's existing incinerator in Burnaby).
OPTION: Landfill Disposal
"A Landfill Alternative: The Highland Valley Project," by Heather Kent, presenting the third Interior Landfill contender (vying against Ashcroft and an expanded Cache Creek landfill).
OPTION: Increased Diversion
"New Metro MRF Will Meet Zero Waste Objectives" -- a local company's new, state-of-the-art end-of-pipe recycling plant ...
OPTION: Waste Exporting
"Metro Vancouver's Potential Waste Export Decision" by Guy Crittenden, with an overview of our waste export options, including in Washington state.
OPTION: The Zero Waste Idea
"BC's leading EPR approach: To Catch a Rabbit, Think like a Rabbit" by Helen Spiegelman, explaining the beginning of-the-pipe recycling approach that BC invented for targeting and eliminating packaging waste.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Where would a waste-to-energy company be without waste?
Sometimes public servants have a similar blind spot, except in their case it comes not from the promise of profits but from public expectations that "there will always be waste" and it's the city's job to make it go away. The chance to be involved in the development of a state-of-the-art architecturally-designed incinerator brings stars to the eyes of traditionally trained waste managers.
Our own Metro Vancouver received a scathing write-up this spring in the cover story of Canada's national recycling magazine Solid Waste and Recycling for its own co-opting of the Zero Waste brand by stretching the concept, as Plasco does, to include waste-to-energy incineration.
But everything eventually comes back to the neighbourhood.
Will voters in next November's civic elections support candidates whose campaign promise is to build trash burners in their backyards?
Or will they demand good policy instead of techno-fixes:
"What's truly radical about zero waste," writes Barber, "is that it simply ignores the never-ending ruckus over the safest technology to deal with the alleged 'garbage crisis.' By focusing on policy and economics instead - banning throwaways and making producers pay for their own waste - zero waste makes landfills and incinerators essentially unnecessary.... As a pipe dream, this one is hot as can be."
Friday, June 13, 2008
Seattle economist Jeffrey Morris has been warning public decision makers for decades not to invest in waste technologies that may have unanticipated opportunity costs down the line.
Here is a slide show he presented in Italy as part of a panel with Paul Connett and other American Zero Waste luminaries, as well as to a meeting in Quebec last month. Morris points to "the emerging framework" that should guide our waste processing investments:
1. GHG reductions likely imply smaller and lower Btu value disposal quantities
2. Higher energy prices likely imply higher prices for recycled materials
3. Natural resource depletion & ecosystems degradation likely provide push to replace virgin with recycled materials and to compost organics for use on farm land
4. Carbon constraints + high energy and commodity prices likely to create strong incentives for higher 3Rs levels.
Sean Mabberley, a local wood waste recycler, said the same thing to Metro Vancouver's Solid Waste Reference Panel last month. He called recycling commodity values a "moving ball" that could be rolling uphill even faster than energy prices.
Morris says to ask the snake-oil salesmen:
1)Who bears facility investment costs and risks of tonnage shortfalls?
2)Do tip fees vary directly with disposal tonnage, or is there some sort of put-or-pay guarantee?
3)How will tip fee commitments affect waste reduction, recycling & composting?
4)Who bears pollution risks & closure/post-closure costs for facilities (including ashfill)?
5)What will be the effects of climate change and higher energy & commodity prices?
Pic: Robert Neubecker in Slate
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Cities have all sorts of tools that they use to attract and encourage new businesses in the community. Have we tried using incentives and public policy instruments to encourage neighbourhood re-shopping opportunities along side shopping opportunities?