State of the Industry 2001
Ed McLellan may have a bias in favour of incineration, but his representations of the Halifax Integrated Solid Waste Management System are, at best, inaccurate (letters to the editor, June/July 2001 edition). We would like to set the record straight.
Our diversion rate is 60 per cent, not “closer to 25 per cent.” Halifax’s system consists of recycling, central composting of source-separated organics collected at curbside, the separate management of HHW, and the processing of remaining refuse. The system handles residential and IC&I waste. We have achieved a per capita total diversion rate of approximately 60 per cent for the last two fiscal years, based on the 1989 per capita generation rate. This has been accomplished through a combination of economic levers, a strong education program, a supportive regulatory framework and private sector activity in diverting wastes through recycling programs. A mixed waste disposal fee of $115 per tonne encourages private sector reduction and diversion. In 1989 we landfilled 266,000 tonnes of waste; this year we’ll bury only 120,000 tonnes — a 55 per cent reduction. There are no private landfills in the region to which waste could have been diverted.
The system is not cost-prohibitive. Cost cannot be considered in isolation of environmental protection and public acceptance. Yes, it’s more expensive than dumping everything into a big hole, but is it too expensive? No, considering the alternatives available, including incineration, which was thoroughly explored in Halifax and determined to be cost-prohibitive. We have one of the highest diversion rates in the country with widespread public support. (Participation rates are over 90 per cent). Incidentally, in the two years since the implementation of Halifax’s system there has been no property tax increase. The system has proven to be cost-effective.
We do not contaminate compost, let alone bury it. Halifax’s source-separated organic stream is composted in our central composting facilities and our private sector partners successfully market all of the compost. In addition, we open every bag of the garbage stream, recover everything we can, and then stabilize the waste before taking it to our landfill face. We do this to make sure the residue is inert and safer for the environment. This stabilized residual waste appears to be what Mr. McLellan referred to as “contaminated compost.”
The schedule of landfill cells has not been accelerated. In fact we have been able to save landfill space as we have achieved a high density of landfill material because of the processing/stabilization of the mixed waste residue before it is buried.
Our success is not a PR exercise. We have had visitors from Hong Kong, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, India, Ireland, the Caribbean and other parts of Canada — a good product will gather that kind of attention. We do not have PR people, although we are very proud of our effective education program.
We do not represent that our system is perfect, but it is undoubtedly successful. Mr. McLellan is free to promote incineration as “resource recovery” but should not do so by misrepresenting the facts about waste management systems that don’t incorporate his preferred technologies.
Waste Resource Analyst
Halifax Regional Municipality Nova Scotia
It seems that the government has really dragged its feet on the scrap tire issue in Ontario. First it was Norm Sterling that made promises of action. Then Tony Clement said it would take two years. In October 2000, Dan Newman stated at an industry breakfast function that he would look at the scrap tire issue in January 2001.
Finally Elizabeth Witmer now sits at the head of the table and in a June meeting at the Ministry office in Toronto, we were informed that it would be another two years before the WDO’s Industry Funded Organization is formed.
The tire industry is not very healthy in this province at all! Many of the legitimate processors are slowly going broke and a few already have gone under. The tire jockeys are making a mockery of the system, collecting a tipping fee in Ontario that is below the poverty level and then collecting again in Quebec.
The haulers are cutting each other’s throats to collect tires and in some cases are actually going to places and picking them up from their competitors.
As for the five crumbing facilities in the province, they are all competing for the same three million tires in circulation, while the other nine million mysteriously disappear either across the border or to an abandoned gravel pit or pristine lake in cottage country.
This nonsense has to stop! Haulers should be paid to legitimately haul tires. Crumbers should be paid enough to keep the lights on in the factories and pay their employees a decent wage.
New and innovative uses should be found for recycled tire and the uses for crumb rubber. Is it being done? No, because every time we get a new minister there is another delay. I think the time has come when the industry must put their foot down.
The Tire Stewardship working group finally met last week and things are looking more positive. To leave on a positive note, I have faith that Ms. Witmer may finally make a difference.
Niagara Falls, Ontario