Solid Waste & Recycling

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Durham/York waste-to-energy plant approved

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has conditionally approved the construction of a waste-to-energy facility to process municipal waste from the Durham Region and York Region, which border Toronto, Ontario. The facility will be capable of...


The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has conditionally approved the construction of a waste-to-energy facility to process municipal waste from the Durham Region and York Region, which border Toronto, Ontario. The facility will be capable of processing post-diversion residual waste, recovering materials and energy, and will be sized to meet both regions’ residual waste processing needs.

Construction of the facility, to be located in Courtice, will begin in 2011, with a target operation date of 2014. The facility will use a thermal mass burn technology, which means that municipal solid waste is fed into a furnace where it is burned at very high temperatures. Material arriving at the plant will have minimal metal content, due to the various curbside and waste management facility diversion programs offered by the regions. Any residual metals will be removed from the ash for recycling.

Air emissions will be subject to the province’s A-7 guideline, which will be administered by the environment ministry. Guideline A-7: Air Pollution Control, Design and Operation Guidelines for Municipal Waste Thermal Treatment Facilities details the ministry’s limits for air emissions from thermal treatment facilities. The process also includes production of high-pressure steam, which is fed through a turbine generator that produces electricity and/or hot water energy that can be used for district heating in the future. This process can heat up to 2,200 homes.

“For too long, we have trucked our garbage hundreds of kilometres to someone else’s backyard. This is not a sustainable solution,” says Cliff Curtis, Durham Region Commissioner of Works. “This energy-from-waste facility will release less greenhouse gas over its lifetime than our current long-haul disposal practice. The environment ministry has imposed extremely strict limits on our air emissions, but we can achieve them. This demonstrates the EFW facility will operate in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Durham and York Regional Councils approved Covanta Energy Corporation as the preferred vendor in spring 2009, after putting out a request for proposals (RFP) to five pre-qualified vendors who had passed the Request for Qualifications process. Covanta Energy is an experienced operator in the EFW field and is the largest provider of EFW services in North America.

(The February/March edition of this magazine will feature an in-depth article about the proposed facility.)


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