Cheap landfilling is a bigger barrier to higher recycling rates than incineration

Metro Vancouver incineration plan gets boost from European experts

Belkorp defends plan to sort recyclables from garbage after regional district forum pans technology

Metro Vancouver mayors say they’re confident their controversial strategy to incinerate more garbage for power is the right one after seeking advice from European experts.

The regional district hosted a forum July 22 that featured British and Dutch experts who warned that cheap landfilling is the main barrier to much higher recycling rates, not incineration.

Both countries make considerable use of waste-to-energy plants.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the Europeans cautioned against building too much incineration capacity – Metro has already reduced the size of its planned new plant from 500,000 tonnes per year to 370,000.

And he said the key takeaway was not to believe the “magic” claims of proponents of material recovery facilities, which are highly automated sorting centres that extract recyclables from garbage.

“It’s mythical, they said it doesn’t work, it destroys the recyclables so they’re not useful and the product at the end from the organics is useless,” Corrigan told Metro’s board Friday.

“That’s where the Netherlands and Britain reinforced what we already knew,” added Metro board chair Greg Moore.

Belkorp Environmental wants to build a mixed-waste material recovery facility (MRF) in Coquitlam and argues Metro might not have to build a new incinerator if enough paper, plastic and other recyclables can be extracted.

Metro’s Bylaw 280 – which is still awaiting approval by the province – would allow very limited use of MRFs to sort garbage from apartment buildings that don’t have adequate recycling facilities.

The bylaw has been opposed by various business groups and the Fraser Valley Regional District, which says it will embrace MRFs.

Belkorp vice-president Russ Black argues firms like his should get a chance to extract recyclables from garbage before it’s landfilled or incinerated, as a final pass to reduce waste.

“There’s no risk to Metro Vancouver or the public with respect to giving these things an opportunity to work,” he said.

But Moore says approving broad use of MRFs would be a step backwards, unraveling 25 years of public education to convince residents to separate their recyclables, rather than throwing everything in one garbage bin.

Black insists the real issue is Metro’s pursuit of waste-to-energy.

“Mixed-waste material recovery facilities compete with incineration. They’re after the same feedstocks.”

He also questioned the objectivity of Metro’s forum, calling the Dutch expert an advocate of incineration.

“It was just a promotion exercise,” Black said.

Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer said it would have been more prudent to also invite experts from a country like Denmark, which she said has recently turned back from a heavy emphasis on incineration in pursuit of better recycling rates.

“We should be looking at a spectrum of experts,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Caretakers say goodbye to Gwynne Vaughan heritage house in Chilliwack after 17 years

Larry and Vicky Graitson have seen a lot of changes at the community park over the years

COLUMN: Chilliwack judge refuses to hear guilty plea and sentencing over the phone

‘The sentencing judge must be in a position to confront the offender, meet his eye’ - Judge Kristen Mundstock

Fraser Valley Regional Library branches offer curbside pick up

After two and a half months of being closed, people can once again check books out of the library

Thousands without power after semi collides with power pole in Chilliwack

The collision happened at Prest and First and now 3,600-plus customers are without power

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Police watchdog investigating death of man in Delta

Independent Investigations Office asking for witnesses to May 29 incident at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Most Read