In 2002, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador unveiled its waste management strategy, which would see a complete revamping of the existing system to ensure the reliable, efficient and responsible management of solid waste throughout the entire province. The objectives of this strategy centre on modernization. They include: developing modern standards for waste management; establishing waste management regions; eliminating open burning of garbage; closing unlined landfills; reducing the number of waste sites by 80 per cent; and diverting 50 per cent of waste from landfill (through waste diversion initiatives and disposal bans on certain waste types).
To fund the strategy, the provincial government entered into an agreement with the province’s municipalities, whereby the municipalities agreed to assign 30 per cent of their Gas Tax Rebate funds to create a $200 million investment fund to support the implementation of the strategy.
The City of St. John’s, (the provincial capital) was quick to support the new provincial strategy and, with the province’s support, the city commissioned a series studies to identify the best approach to take in achieving two goals. First, the city needed to implement a city-wide waste diversion program in order to achieve the 50 per cent diversion objective (as stated in the provincial strategy). Second, St. John’s wanted to examine its existing landfill at Robin Hood Bay to see if it could be re-engineered to meet the new environmental standards (identified in the strategy). These studies (conducted by consultants from Kendall Engineering and Gartner Lee Limited) determined that, indeed, the Robin Hood Bay Landfill could be re-engineered to comply with the intent of the new standard. Furthermore, the study confirmed that it was economically viable for the province to designate the landfill as the regional disposal site for the entire Avalon Peninsula, serving approximately half of the province’s population.
The Avalon site is one of three “super sites” to be located in Avalon, a Central zone and a Western zone. The super sites will function as full service regional waste management facilities — the end destination for waste that cannot be diverted, recycled or composted. Fifteen regional waste management authorities will be established — one for each of the four zones in Labrador, and 11 for the remainder of the province. Their purpose will be to oversee waste management for each particular zone, ensuring appropriate handling of recycling, diversion and composting activities.
An integrated facility
In December 2007, after approximately three years of study undertaken by the city and funded by the province, the provincial government announced its approval to move forward with the re-engineering of the Robin Hood Bay Landfill. The integrated facility will include a new materials processing facility for recyclables, a new composting facility for processing source separated organics, a new public drop-off facility, a household hazardous waste depot, a site for metals recycling, a leachate collection and treatment system, as well as methane gas collection and utilization. The province has committed to contribute approximately $40 million for construction of these new facilities, while the city will contribute an additional $6.5 million.
Scheduled to be fully operational by 2010, the new facilities at Robin Hood Bay will demonstrate both the City of St. John’s and the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador’s commitment to the environment, and human health and safety.
NOTE: This magazine will report about the new facilities as they are built and as the city and province achieve their waste diversion goals.
Robert Lippett, P.Eng., is a Senior Environmental Engineer with Gartner Lee Ltd. in Markham, Ontario. contact Robert at email@example.com
Maritimes seek common environmental approach
Atlantic Canada’s environment ministers have committed to regional cooperation on important issues following meetings in Charlottetown on Thursday, January 10, 2008.
The ministers agreed to look at the potential to harmonize legislation relating to solid wastes including e-waste (discarded computers and electronic equipment), paint and used oil and oil filters.
Due to the relatively small size of each province, a joint approach to the management of various waste materials could provide an opportunity for the most cost-effective and efficient approach. Ministers also agreed to look for opportunities to recycle products within Atlantic Canada, as opposed to shipping recyclable material to processors outside the region.
New Brunswick led discussions on the possibility of developing a harmonized approach to the management and remediation of brownfields (sites where soil has been contaminated with petroleum). At the moment, Prince Edward Island is the only Atlantic Canadian province with regulations regarding petroleum-damaged sites; however, other Atlantic provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador have policies in place that address contaminated sites.
The ministers also worked towards common ground on the issues of renewable energy, climate change, pesticide use and regulation, environmental enforcement and wastewater management. In particular, they agreed to work collaboratively to raise the profile of two key issues — adaptation to climate change and sea level increases.
Atlantic Canada’s environment ministers will be meeting again within the next few months, with New Brunswick expected to host an upcoming workshop on climate change adaptation.