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

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vancouver takes a stand against Metro's incinerator plan

It was a remarkable reversal of the evasive namby-pambyness that has been the hallmark of Metro politicians in their public statements about our region's proposed waste plan.

The City of Vancouver came into last Friday's showdown meeting of the Metro Board with four amendments to the region's plan before it went out for consultation.

Vancouver's amendments were not adopted by the Board (they were "deferred to Committee" in one last gesture of timidity by the Metro Board) but they are going to prove a game-changer. They were accurately deemed "contrary to the motion" on the floor (meaning that they fundamentally altered the Plan).
But the Vancouver Amendments will be appended to the plan when it goes out for public consultation. And they are sure to be the focus of public interest because they finally speak to the real needs of our region.

Here they are:
  • set a waste reduction target - Vancouver proposed a 56% reduction in waste generation (from 1.65 tonnes to 1.1 tonnes of waste per capita per year). Presently the Plan contains only a "diversion" target to increase the percentage of waste we recycle. But embedded in the Plan is an assumption that our waste will actually increase in the years to come, justifying the construction of the big new incinerator.

  • ban all compostable organics from disposal - this sends a clear policy signal to everyone in the region that we are serious about reducing our waste and about reducing the horrific climate impacts of our landfills through simple measures that everyone can understand and contribute to.

  • ban all commercial wood waste from disposal - this will cut an additional 90,000 tonnes of waste from public waste facilities, in addition to reducing the appalling wastefulness of the construction industry in our wood-producing province.

  • remove "combustion" from the waste-to-energy options - this is the coup de grace. It would leave some niche forms of energy recovery on the table, but prohibit the traditional mass-burn incineration that is currently proposed.

The Vancouver Amendments may be the instruments for derailing a plan that has been sliding towards approval for three years -- despite being fundamentally out of step with public desire for waste reduction.

Vancouver may have created the space for other political leaders to step forward and take a stand for real waste reduction. It may grate on some suburban politicians to be annexed into the "Green Capital" -- but their alternative will be to make a convincing case for spending a half-billion dollars on a waste incinerator when schools, parks and libraries are being cut back.

Pic: Vancouver Green Capital

1 comment:

Vicki Morell said...

Have you ever been stuck behind a garbage truck?

I have, twice in 1 week. As I slowly and impatiently followed the truck, watching in disgust as trash cans full of waste filled plastic bags were tossed into it's back and plastic bags were been ripped apart by the truck's teeth, spilling the garbage into the back of the truck, I thought to myself why are we still using plastic bags? Why are we not, at the very least, putting our garbage in disposable bags or no bags at all? Why does our garbage not just go directly into our trash cans at home? I also wondered what else is going into that garbage truck that shouldn't be there. 

Shortly thereafter I heard, and started to get emails about, Metro Vancouver's incineration plan. Is this really the solution to our waste problem?!  To burn our garbage and pollute our air, how outrageous! Why is it the air we breathe gets tossed around and taken so lightly as to yet again get filled with more pollutants. 

Metro Vancouver has assured me that they are looking very seriously at addressing our residential wood smoke problem, but now I think they would actually consider burning our garbage.

What else has Metro Vancouver been thinking about?
Where is the composting?
Where is heavy duty recycling?
Why is Metro Vancouver not stepping outside the box to fix our extravagant waste problem, instead they are not becoming a leader and not setting a green example.
Why are they not becoming a leader but instead following?  Is it because it's the easier route to go. Not the greener but the easier.
We don't need more burning in Metro Vancouver. We don't need to burn wood and we certainly don't need to burn our garbage. What we do need is clean air to breathe! 

The Zero Waste says it all and the Canadian Clean Air Alliance agrees with them.

Politicians need to step up and do the right thing to protect the air we have to breathe. People need to wake up to a new world where recycling, cutting down on waste and composting is the new way of life. 

We need fines and stiff penalties for people who refuse to comply. Gone are the days of throwing everything away including the kitchen sink. 

Jobs can be created. New ideas need to be tried.  Burning is not an option.

What I do know for sure is:
Our legacy should not be more destruction but how we cared enough to make a difference. To think about what is the best way to dispose of our waste. How can we lead and set an example to other Canadians and to the world?
With the disaster that is currently taking place in the Gulf of Mexico why can't we start here in Metro Vancouver to work together as partners become allies and become the greenest place in Canada if not the world. 
Remember burning garbage and wood is a choice...breathing is not.