Although the initial capital costs would be higher, incineration of municipal waste is the preferred long-term option. So says the Regional Municipality of Durham — just east of Toronto, Ontario — which has just released its business case for a waste-to-energy (WTE) project for residual waste.
The business case compares WTE with landfilling at a location outside the region, but inside the province. According to a financial analysis by consultants at Deloitte and Touche, a WTE plant beats the landfill option because it removes the risk and uncertainty surrounding fuel costs and the shortage of landfill capacity in the province.
The proposed location of the facility would be in Clarington, near Courtice Road and Highway 401. The plant would cost $198 million to build, with Durham Region paying $155 million and neighboring York Region paying the rest. York Region plans to send a portion of its waste to the facility, if and when it’s constructed.
Durham will also pay $13 million of the total $17 million annual operating and maintenance cost of the facility.
If federal gas tax funds are used to pay a portion of the initial costs, the Durham Region’s facility-related debt would be retired in six years. From 2017 onward, incineration would cost less than landfilling somewhere else, according to the report. If the facility is funded through debt financing alone, it will take until past 2031 for incineration to cost less than landfill.
The business case did not include potential revenue from district heating; such capability would be built into the plant.