I read with interest your two articles on refuse derived fuel (Zafar -“Waste Pelletization” and Crittenden -“Waste Pellets to Energy at Dongara”) in the April/May issue of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine. As suggested in these articles, waste fuel pellets can potentially contribute to environmental improvements if they are used to replace the coal and petroleum coke currently used to provide energy in cement kilns, coal fired power plants and industrial boilers.
While the opportunity you identify is significant, these two articles unfortunately did not discuss the considerable road blocks that industrial facilities in Ontario face in their attempts to utilize refuse derived fuel pellets from Dongara, or other sources.
For instance, located a mere 90 km drive from the Dongara facility, the St Marys Cement Bowmanville plant would be an ideal consumer of these waste fuel pellets. Despite the win-win potential, in order for the environmental benefits to be realized, St. Marys would be required to obtain an onerous provincial waste handling permit in addition to the regular modifications to its provincial air approval certificate. The lengthy, costly, and uncertain waste handling permit application comes with ample opportunities for delay through appeals to the Environmental Review Tribunal process.
Moreover, despite the potential benefits offered over the burning of imported coal, provincial and municipal governments and citizens do not appear to recognize the potential resources within and the products that can be manufactured from the province’s vast waste streams. This means that there is a significant stigma towards energy recovery from waste initiatives in the province, especially where energy pellets might cross municipal boundaries. And because of that, any application and permitting process tends to be contentious, costly and lead to conflicts between applicants and the various stakeholder groups within neighbouring communities. Potential pellet consumers are forced to ask themselves whether the risks are worth the rewards.
To realize the potential from the Dongara pellets, the Ontario government needs to apply the same type of innovative and aggressive policy reform that it mustered for renewable energy applications in the newly passed Green Energy Act.
Michael McSweeney Vice President Industry Cement Association of Canada