Incinerator idea flames out for now

Uncertainty around waste volumes and reduction of residual waste was cited by Metro Vancouver as reasons for discontinuing plans

Metro Vancouver announced it will upgrade emission controls at the Burnaby incinerator

It’s a bit of an early Christmas present for those trying to protect the Fraser Valley air shed.

“It looks like Metro Vancouver has abandoned its incinerator project at this point,” said Sharon Gaetz, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District, and Chilliwack Mayor. “We just got the news at FVRD, and everyone is taking a moment to let the good news sink in.”

Metro Vancouver put out a press release Thursday morning announcing changes its waste-to-energy plans, pledging to direct $30 million at the existing incinerator in Burnaby, for emission control upgrades, and not move forward with building a new one.

“Due to uncertainty around future waste volumes and continued reduction in residual waste, Metro Vancouver has discontinued its current waste-to-energy (WTE) procurement process,” reads the release from MetroVancouver.org.

A large regional incinerator is still part of Metro’s provincially approved Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan — but it’s not known if one will in fact ever be built now.

“Metro Vancouver remains committed to waste-to-energy as the most sustainable technology solution for deriving benefits from residual waste after all efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Greg Moore, chair of Metro Vancouver.

“Given our collective achievement in recycling and waste reduction, the timeline for requiring additional capacity has been pushed forward by several years, enabling us to scale-up over time based on a growing population and predictable waste volumes.”

“Predictable” waste volumes were key to the whole debate.

“The challenge with new waste-to-energy is that it requires a significant up front capital investment as well as predictable waste flow,” said Malcolm Brodie, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee. “Metro remains committed to continued progress towards Zero Waste as outlined in the Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan with the appropriate management of residuals.”

FVRD chair Gaetz has led the charge to protect the regional airshed by opposing the Waste-to-Energy plan.

“We are thrilled with the progress made in protecting our airshed, and look forward to working with Metro Vancouver to find positive, green alternatives to their plans to build a garbage incinerator,” she said when she was re-elected to the post about one year ago.

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