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
The Trudeau government's new budget, rather than delivering activist government as it promised to do, reveals a party that turns more and more conservative in power. Luke Savage weighs in.
March 23, 2017
Ontario's PCs and NDP are pressuring the Liberals to hold the line on school closures. But to keep them open, says Randall White, no one wants to pay the piper.
March 22, 2017
The Liberals government's proposal to cut energy costs by 25% is just shifting the actual payments to our children, warns Terri Chu.
March 21, 2017
A new report shows Canada is one of the lowest defence spending nations in NATO - we're 22nd out of 28. How much should we be spending? Mahoney, Capobianco and Belanger discuss.
March 15, 2017
A review of Ontario's labour laws is landing on Premier Kathleen Wynne's desk right about now. Brad James wonders if she'll use it to bring about greater fairness.
March 13, 2017
Finance Minister Morneau has announced he will bring down the Liberal government's second budget on March 22nd. What should be in it? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
March 08, 2017
Donald Trump, Brexit, and the French election: could swings to the right affect voters casting ballots in the Ontario's 2018 election? Randall White has more.
March 07, 2017
More and more asylum seekers are sneaking into Canada at non-official border crossings. Should Canada be cracking down on them? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
March 01, 2017
President Trump has done Canada a lot of favours already. Why, the best scientists and academics are headed our way! Terri Chu writes a tongue-in-cheek love letter to The Donald.
February 28, 2017
Trade, military co-operation and working women came up at the Trump-Trudeau meeting. But were the results substantive enough? Bird, Capobianco and Parkin weigh in.
February 15, 2017
Canada's western provinces may have grown fastest, but Ontario remains the country's most populous province, writes Randall White. There was good news for of its areas.
February 14, 2017
Canada has taken a soft-pedal approach to Donald Trump so far. Meanwhile, there are calls in Germany to prepare to treat Trump as a hostile dictator. Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin on which way Canad
February 07, 2017