Solid Waste & Recycling


There's Energy in Waste

I had the opportunity to sit in between the Mayor of London, Joe Fontana and Ontario’s Ministry of Energy, the Honourable Chris Bentley yesterday as I chaired the Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council (MSEC). Mr. Bentley was there at my invitation to kick off the meeting and bring some remarks from the Province.
Our group of 30 industry leaders has been working to help position the City of London as a green energy leader in Canada at the very least.
It was remarkable to see two gifted politicians speak so easily and without the benefit of any notes articulating key messages and policies and really communicating very publicly about how to link municipal and provincial goals and ultimately initiatives.
Ontario’s green energy policy is either the most progressive in Canada and will yield many manufacturing jobs and be an economic and environmental boon or a weighty fiscal millstone that won’t produce results.
Either way this will be one of the Ontario Liberal’s party’s defining platforms. Through subsidization and other encouragements it hopes to attract the development of green energy infrastructure.
The Minister reiterated his government’s goal when stating that the Province will be fully weaned off coal by 2014. They ultimately hope that green energy in the form of biomass, wind and solar will pick up the slack.
He also reiterated that the best solution is not to use the energy in the first place. That premise is certainly being tested with the implementation of time of use metering for electricity (the City of London will see full implementation before the end of March).
On the home front this is a pretty straightforward task for me. However on the work front this will be challenging and add considerable costs. My cottage rental business is going to see a considerable increase in energy costs this summer. While I will encourage my renters to conserve energy I have essentially no control over how they use their air conditioners and dishwashers.
Onward to waste, the Ontario’s government’s direction has provided the stage for us to be able to extract the energy from waste in a more meaningful way. Certainly for organic waste it kills two birds with one stone- it manages the waste and creates energy- a truly elegant solution. This has been discussed for many years but now seems to be gaining some well deserved prominence.
The overlap between solid waste management and agriculture is also becoming much clearer. For the organic processing industry agriculture has always been that hopeful mirage- a largely unrealized beacon of market potential (that too is changing). Now it is becoming clear, certainly in Ontario, that the farming community will be a viable venue for off farm organic wastes. This opportunity, many years in the making, to harness the energy from organic waste is now here.
That brings me to gathering energy from other solid waste. For too long we viewed this as a moral issue. That somehow the failure to properly mitigate environmental risk of 30 years ago continues to exist today. We look to Europe for all sorts of waste management solutions- except energy from waste. While not the perfect solution everywhere it does offer an alternative to jurisdictions without a landfill (and without a viable chance of permitting one). The government should seriously consider including it in the FIT program.
These are all viable green energy solutions and each need to play a key role in replacing the energy capability lost due to eliminating coal in Ontario.
The extraction of energy from wastes is the way forward.

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