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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Netherlands puts a moratorium on incineration

Using the interesting regulatory approach distinct to the country, Netherlands has signed a "covenant" that no new incineration capacity will be built in that country.

Why? Because they have too much incineration capacity. The recession -- with declining waste volumes -- shot many European countries over the optimal capacity.

Netherlands is also legally rebranding their top-performing incinerators as energy "recovery plants" in hopes that they can recover some of their costs by importing waste from other countries. That sucking sound you hear in Europe is waste flowing in from across national borders.

We still have time to get ahead of the curve, not build excess capacity in the first place, and put our effort into real recycling.

Will we be clever enough to do that?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Taking back the news

Alter-net news sources are proliferating. The latest to come to my attention is, a feisty brand-new venue for Sunshine Coast citizens to rant against the people at Sunshine Coast Regional District who run their waste system.

A photo of one of SCRD's drop-off recycling stations graced a post to this blog a couple years ago, sent to me by a local recycling business operator, Buddy Boyd of Gibsons Recycling. Buddy has been in constant battle with SCRD over their program of dumbed-down single-stream recycling and transporting the mess to distant recycling plants, effectively bypassing Buddy's local business.

Now it turns out SCRD is maneuvering to shut down the landfill in Pender Harbour, directing that community's trash to its own landfill in Sechelt instead. In an unusual twist, citizens in Pender Harbour are organizing a Yes In My Backyard campaign -- and using very reasoned arguments to do so. Read all about it in the News section of

Citizens of this province are taking matters into our own hands. We are writing our own news -- and making our own decisions about what happens to our rubbish.

Pic: Illegal dumping on Sechelt Band land by SCRD's garbage contractor. Source: SustainableCoast

Time for Metro Vancouver to forget about incineration, get going on composting

Canada figures prominently in a survey of North American cities that have moved "beyond recycling" and are providing composting programs for organic wastes -- but BC is hardly on the map.

Of the 121 cities surveyed, 55 were Canadian, but only one was British Columbian. (The BC city that made the survey? It was Mission - a community that has been collecting food scraps separately since the 1990s.)

The major cities in BC are late entrants to food scrap composting. None had the track record to make the EPA survey. Vancouver, which touts itself as the Greenest City, hasn't even left the starting blocks.

The EPA report offers a rich mix of lessons learned by these 121 communities over the years.

While our waste management officials dither about what kind of incineration technology to choose, other cities are cutting their waste in half at a fraction the cost to burn it.