Leader in waste management
It is important to address some of the points made in last week’s Equity by Jen Montague (Garbage in, garbage out, July 5, 2023) concerning the proposed Energy from Waste (EFW) facility by MRC Pontiac.
It is extremely important to be transparent and also to correct information that can be misleading.
With this project, MRC Pontiac is in the driver’s seat as we see this as our biggest opportunity to be a leader in waste management. We are in no way being solicited by any company.
To begin with, no decision has been made on a technology. The closest EFW facility is in Durham/York region near Toronto and our Council of Mayors visited it. It was built and is presently operated by Covanta which is not an “American conglomerate” but is owned by the Swedish company EQT. Sweden, Denmark and Norway are leaders with waste management in the world today. Their high rate of recycling, composting and use of EFW facilities to process the residual waste is exemplary. They incinerate 50 per cent of their residual waste rather than using landfills.
The Pontiac region declared itself a willing host for incineration in 2011, but the Outaouais alone did not provide sufficient tonnage. This is why we are looking at our neighbour, Ontario. Financial viability depends on many factors but the most important is steady and sufficient tonnage of waste.
The number of trucks required which pick up at transfer stations carry 25-30 tonnes each which dramatically reduces the number of trips. Hopefully these will be electric trucks.
The closure of U.S. incinerators which Ms. Montague referred to were all built in the 1980’s and used older technology.
Today these EFW plants are built to last 50 years and then they can be refurbished for an additional 50 years.
It is true that often sites are chosen in more rural areas as those communities, like the Pontiac, welcome the opportunity for economic development and jobs. Our identified site is perfectly situated to accept waste from Ontario and the Outaouais as it is close to the border.
With a circular economy, waste elimination is at the core of its objective. In addition to maximizing our education, reduction, reuse, repair, remanufacture, recovery, recycling and composting we will still need a better solution than burying our garbage. It is an important resource creating electricity which is needed by Quebec and Ontario.
The Quebec Ministry of the Environment approves EFW using incineration and has stringent guidelines for air quality. Our EFW facility will release steam that is 99.9 per cent pure to the air. For every one ton of waste processed by EFW, there is one ton less green house gas.
Finally, I wish to reassure Ms. Montague and all residents of the Pontiac and our neighbours that we are “doing our homework” and that the next important step in our business and feasibility study will include any environmental impact.
Warden MRC Pontiac
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