Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Paul Connett's Talk

As Helen described here, Dr. Paul Connett spoke about waste incineration at a series of public meetings last week in Metro Vancouver. His detailed powerpoint presentation is available for download here as a moderately large pdf file.

To spark your interest in the download, here are two main thoughts from Dr. Connett's talk, which is tailored to the local situation here in Metro Vancouver, and which bears the foreboding title "Vancouver sabotaging Zero Waste strategy, EPR and Sustainability":
  • "Even if we made incineration safe, we would never make it sensible or sustainable"
  • "One or more Resource Recovery Parks coupled with an Institute for Zero Waste and Sustainability would cost less [than building incinerators], would do far more for the image of Metro Vancouver and would be far more acceptable to citizens, especialy those living in the Fraser Valley."
Dr. Connett is executive director of the American Environmental Health Studies Project and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.


jm said...

one person's waste is another person's fashion

Anonymous said...

I've checked Paul's presentation, and he clearly does differentiate between conbustion (0xidation) at 800-900C and molecular dissociation at 200C, the latter you don't get dioxin/PM2.5 formation.

The rest is Zero Waste spin. Paul doesn't compare Climate Change Gas impact per tonne input between Composting and Plasma Arc Gasification; because Composting is more damaging/ has most impact!

Matter can't be created or destroyed; plasma gasification converts 99% of imput to marketable product. Pauls resource recovery park is largely untried and still is left with contaminated residual such as painted, treated or creosoted woods. Plasma Gas converts these safely.

zwer said...

Hello anonymous,
Dioxin is but one toxin that can be released. What about the heavy metals and others? Individual atoms of the material going in do not disappear, but they may come out in another form. However this is irrelevant because it is a waste of the materials going in.

If you wish marketable products, how about the paper, organics, plastics and other reusable and recyclable materials. If you want energy, how about preventing the use of more energy to replace the materials incinerated with virgin materials. More energy would be saved through the 3Rs than could ever be recovered with WtE.

Composting as damaging? We need those materials to replenish soils to be able to continue food production. Capture the gases by all means, but keep the solid materials for soil amendments.

Recovery parks untried? Well I think there are more examples of people trying that method (and what is the risk of failure?) compared to the largely unsuccessful Plasco system in Ottawa -how much energy has come out f it so far (and compared to how much energy it took to build it?)

Anonymous said...


I'm against incineration. Totally agree with with Anonynous 19 July's comments.

Remember much of GAIA based stuff comes from a ZW agenda; and adds on poorly researched science spin or muck, to lay its naturalistic/behaviouralistic ideals.

6 bn on the planet composting!Composting food waste poorly in home composters or industrially is worst for Climate Change than Plasma Gasification/Gasplas for MSW. Eunomia consulting 2007 report/Dr Dominic Hogg prove this. Anaerobic Digestion is the best for food waste. Widdrow composting is crude and polluting releasing VOCs, dust, bioaerosols and large CO2 amounts during composting. In the UK Defra are concerned about composting on workers and locals. Anaerobic digestion is a far better process than composting for putrescibles and involves renewable EfW/CHP.

Recovery parks are in their infancy. The one at Del Norte, Califoria which I visited is a Heath Robinson eyesore affair. Cambbera, Oz is better organised/planned but still has a massive, almost landfill footprint for storing fermenting soils, composts; gravel/sand mountains.

Plasco are doing a reasonable job in plasma gasification development. It works and needs refining for demonstation. It will happen. Europlasma operate successfully in Bordeaux, NGAlt/Westinghouse in the US, APP test facility in UK. The plants in CHP form are 60% efficient; twice that of a CHP incinerator, even with the initial electrical load accounted for. I've looked at the collective emissions data from plasma facilities; they emit at worse 10% of the emissions of the most modern Veolia incinerator in the UK. Dioxins are nothing as the process isn't oxidation (you need oxidation of plastics like PVC via combustion below 1000C to create Dioxins/Furans. Plasma is a sealed system with metals being captured in inert bassalt like plasmarok; which removes the IBA ash issues.

Plastic and paper can only be closed loop recycled a number of times before material deterioration sets in. Plastics.. about 3-5 loops.

I like to research the science. I conclude there substantial areas for recycling and anaerobic digestion; limited role for composting of greenwaste/yard waste. Plasma IMO has a 10-15% role to play in converting tricky residual waste / MSW or refuse derived fuels. Resource recovery parks do have a roll to play; but the more complex and composite the residual waste is..the Resource Centre v Residual Technology for the stuff one doesn't viably recycle (last 25%) becomes weaker and indeed spurious. Additionally, designing out as Paul suggests is not a fast process; it takes 1-2 decades of international redesign, producer and consumer responsibily. Its not a silver bullet!

Its admirable to defend a Zero Waste ideal/solutions; but its realistic to view its limitations; especially where different human behaviours and current array of current and latently historic materials are involved.