A joint waste planning committee of the Region of York and the Region of Durham — two large municipalities just north of the City of Toronto — has approved a plan to construct a 250,000 tonnes per year waste-to-energy (WTE) plant to serve the waste disposal needs of their communities. The plant was recommended as the preferred option by consultants guiding the municipalities in their long-term waste management planning process and environmental assessment. The lead consultants are MacViro with Jacques Whitford, and the experts were asked to look at alternatives to landfill for disposing the roughly 35 to 45 per cent of municipal garbage that can’t be economically recycled or composted.
According to waste director Andy Campbell, any WTE plant will be modular or “scaleable” so that it can be expanded in future, up to as much as 400,000 tonnes per year, to meet the needs of the area’s growing population. Population estimates suggest that the smaller plant could handle the area’s disposal needs if residents achieve a 75 per cent waste diversion rate, but the municipalities will seek permitting of a larger plant, in case it’s needed.
The committee has forwarded the recommendation to their respective councils for further approval, after which point a suitable site will have to be found. The decision from the councils is expected soon.
Waste incineration is being seriously considered by many Ontario municipalities (such as Niagara Region and Hamilton, which are also collaborating through a joint-process called WastePlan) because of the unpopularity of landfills and concern about the inappropriateness of exporting garbage to landfills in Michigan over the long term.