Advertisement
Advertisement
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM

            A Debate We Need To Have 

 

By Terri Chu

If we look across the pond toward Europe, a land of high population density and little free space, what we find a very efficient use of resources when it comes to disposing of day to day garbage. 

Partly, this is due to the fact that Europe is no longer brimming with things to burn for heating fuel, nor is it overflowing with oil.  It imports much of it's energy (expensively) and therefore has learnt to use it well. 

For our part, the access to cheap resources has made the upfront investment in efficiency less imperative.

Garbage is not dumped into landfills in Europe as it is here.  It is far too valuable a resource for energy.  Facilities in the middle of cities are given the task of converting trash into both electricity and heat for office, industrial, and home uses.  Legislation (in addition to the lack of space) is largely the reason landfills have not proliferated there.

As a result, Europe is a leader is Energy From Waste (EFW) recovery.

When it comes to EFW here in Ontario, there are both pros and cons. 

Though landfill produces more greenhouse gases (GHG) in the longer term, EFW will produce more particulate matter and GHG in a localized area.  So finding a suitable site for a facility without significant local opposition will be the biggest challenge. 

Though dealing with municipal solid waste is, as the name implies, a municipal issue, generating electricity is a provincial one.  And herein lies a major complication to effectively turning our garbage into a useful commodity.

“Why Should I Care?” - a community engagement group - recently held a forum on EFW.  Not surprisingly, there was as much support as opposition to turning garbage into useful energy. Much more comforting than a smoke stack in our own backyards are trucks driving 200km down a highway to the Greenland landfill where we neither have to see nor think about it.

Garbage slowly decomposing in the landfill will cause more greenhouse gases than residual waste getting incinerated at a high temperature.  As the nightmare landfill fire in Iqaluit has shown us, a single dump fire will fill the air with many more toxins than incineration. 

Controlled, high temperature burns are the cleanest way to deal with the garbage generated by our day-to-day lives. 

While opposition to the idea of burning garbage remains strong, opposition to packaged goods from and daily lattes are non-existent. 

Enwave, Toronto’s district heating company known for using lake water to cool city buildings, would like the opportunity to explore EFW right in the heart of Toronto. 

The real thing however missing from the debate is the debate itself.  Former City Councillor Dennis Fotinos and current CEO of Enwave points out that there has been absolutely no discussion in council or Queen’s Park about EFW. 

Dumping our trash in landfills can only go on for so long, as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find sites for all the garbage we are producing. 

Little progress can be made as long as politicians at all levels treat this issue as a political third rail.  They forget that in real life, the third rail is where all the power is. 

If we are to make bold changes as a society, we need the political leadership to at least hold debates and listen to constituents and experts on the topic.

The issue of dealing with our trash should not be punted to the next generation.  Wildlife is dying by the millions as they are caught up in our non-decomposable plastic (recycling for many materials remains elusive).   

Let the debate begin. 

 

 

About terri chu

Terri is a specialist in urban sustainability with a Bachelor of Science and a Master in Engineering. She has worked on district energy projects across Canada. In her off hours, Terri founded a not for profit called “Why Should I Care?” to engage everyday citizens into the political process.
Posted date : April 26, 2015

View all of terri chu's columns
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM
Does Justin Trudeau's attendance in Davos for the World Economic Forum really benefit Canada? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin weigh in.
January 23, 2018
A recent poll shows Patrick Brown's PCs in a virtual tie with Kathleen Wynne's Liberals for voter support. Are we headed for a minority government?
January 21, 2018
The latest Forum poll shows little change, but trends over the last 18 months say a lot. They may mean a big opening for the Andrea Howath.
January 17, 2018
A new poll says only 37% of Canadians approve of the job the Trudeau Liberals are doing. We asked Richard Mahoney, Will Stewart and Tom Parkin what the numbers really mean.
January 16, 2018
As the Tim Horton's brand takes a national pounding after a franchise counters the minimum wage hike by taking away benefits, labour may become an election issue.
January 15, 2018
Will CPC Leader Scheer's move to kick Beyak out of the CPC caucus hurt him with some supporters? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin weigh in.
January 09, 2018
Voter participation has been declining in the 21st century. Are Ontario voters interested enough in the upcoming election to vote?
January 07, 2018
What will 2018 bring for each of the three federal parties and their leaders in 2018? We asked Richard Mahoney, Will Stewart and Tom Parkin.
January 02, 2018
A new $15 minimum wage has gotten most of the attention, but there are other significant changes in Ontario's new labour legislation.
December 20, 2017
An Ontario judge has ruled "administrative segregation" should be limited to 5 days only. Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate banning it altogether.
December 19, 2017
Is the centre-left getting crowded? The PC's, Liberals and NDP all seem to be targeting voters there. Which will win them?
December 13, 2017
The Liberals won three of four by-elections this week, including a seat in an area they haven't taken since 1949. What do the results mean? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate.
December 12, 2017