Solid Waste & Recycling

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Letters to the Editor (June 01, 2001)

State of the Industry 2001In reviewing the recent article, "State of the Industry 2001" (February/March 2001 edition) I noted the selection of experts was restricted to individuals with a vested inter...


State of the Industry 2001

In reviewing the recent article, “State of the Industry 2001” (February/March 2001 edition) I noted the selection of experts was restricted to individuals with a vested interest in the collection, recycling and composting of waste. An industry overview in our opinion needs to look objectively and more broadly at all waste disposal processes. Remarkable advances are occurring in residual disposal via resource recovery (incineration) but the article was silent on this technology. There are many new incinerators under construction in the United States, Japan and Western Europe. Unfortunately, the landfill, recycling and composting lobbies have effectively blocked out progress in Canada. Canada is light years behind countries that recognize energy from waste as the lowest cost — environmentally sound approach to 100 per cent resource recovery.

Let us look at an example. Media reports, including Connie Vitello’s recent article (“Rail Haul Derailed” in the December/January 2001 edition), continue to talk about the Halifax waste management system that produces over 50 per cent diversion from landfill. We have visited the Halifax, Otter Lake complex on two occasions and find that the best feature is its PR committee. The real numbers applied to the total waste stream are closer to 25 per cent and overall costs are prohibitive. Halifax has accelerated the development of landfill cells at Otter Lake to bury the contaminated compost.

For your information I’ve provided a copy of a recent report prepared for our Peterborough Waste Management Steering Committee. (See www.solidwastemag.com.) Halifax’s system is much like the TCR fiasco. (See “Hot-Wiring Strathroy” in the December/January 2000 edition.)

The bottom line is that we are very disappointed your reporters are not telling Canadians what is happening in other countries. For example, in Western Europe, the recent Frost & Sullivan report identifies 179 new energy from waste facilities to come on-line by 2006. One new plant in Toronto could handle 100 per cent of its residual waste and can operate profitably at $50/tonne with 100 per cent resource recovery. The proposed energy-from-waste facility in Perth, Australia operates 4,000 tonnes/day.

Look at the highly successful waste management system in Syracuse, New York. The resource recovery facility operates profitably at $50/ton tip fee and just won the SWANA award for “plant of the year.” Take a virtual tour at www.ocrra.org. Syracuse exemplifies an excellent balance between recycling, composting and resource recovery.

We think your magazine needs to take a fresh and broader look at waste management.

Hope you agree!

Ed McLellan

Peterborough, Ontario

EPIC tales

I really enjoyed reading Guy Crittenden’s editorials, which express common sense regarding environmental issues.

In the April/May 2001 edition of the magazine I found the article “EPIC Tales” by Usman Valiante to be an oversimplification of the life-cycle analysis (LCA). LCA was originally developed not in U.S. but in Europe and now has become a widely recognized tool for European decision-makers, particularly in Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland.

The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) has been instrumental in developing the LCA concept and prepared guidelines for LCA analysis. These guidelines were successfully applied by several American companies (Proctor & Gamble, Union Carbide, DuPont, 3M) to reduce costs and the environmental impact of their products.

The examples cited in Mr. Valiante’s article illustrate misuses of LCA rather than proper application. This should not discredit LCA as a valuable tool for responsible environmental management.

Jan Kochany, Ph.D., Sc., P. Eng. REP USA

Conestoga-Rovers & Associates

Mississauga, Ontario


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