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 Liberals want a high-speed rail system for Southwestern Ontario - an idea as old as Bill Davis' Conservative government. Randall White explores the concept.
May 29, 2017
The Inquiry is off to a slow and controversial start. What is holding it up? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin on what it will take to succeed.
May 25, 2017
"There may be trouble in River City" when it comes to the Ontario PCs. Anger inside the party and rumblings of a new movement could affect the leader's election chances.
May 24, 2017
The auditor is suggesting the internal culture of the RCMP is so dysfunctional it requires civilian oversight. Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin on whether that's a good idea.
May 17, 2017
A Liberal government led by a woman in BC, up for re-election after holding power for more than 15 years. Sound familiar? Randall White on whether there are lessons for Kathleen Wynne.
May 11, 2017
The Liberals are moving left as we near the 2018 election - a reprise of the last provincial and federal campaigns. Will it work a third time? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
May 10, 2017
This past Earth day, the planet surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere. Terri Chu laments that as long as polluting is cheap, it will continue unabated.
May 08, 2017
The Defence Minister is accused of lying when he described himself as "the architect" of a major offensive during Afghanistan war. Should he step down? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
May 03, 2017
Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne's approval ratings have plummeted a year ahead of next year's Ontario election. But not so fast, says Peter Shurman - don't count Wynne out yet.
April 28, 2017
Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay will be the pilot sites for the Basic Income Project for 4,000 lower-income people. Is it a good idea? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin on that.
April 27, 2017
If Ontario really does put Canada first, it has to be a big supporter of the new Canadian Free Trade Agreement scheduled to take effect July 1st. Randall White delves into the details.
April 22, 2017
It's been thrown around for everything from fat paycheques (read Bombardier) to tax credits for creating jobs. Brad James thinks it's time to give the old phrase a rest once and for all.
April 21, 2017