At their meeting on July 11, 2008, members of the Niagara-Hamilton WastePlan Joint Working Group accepted the recommendations of a staff report calling for a focus on waste diversion priorities, and an end to the agreement between the two municipalities for the Environmental Assessment (EA) Study for disposal alternatives. Niagara and Hamilton had entered into a formal working arrangement in 2003 to pursue alternate long-term waste disposal technologies.
The report also recommends that the municipalities continue to meet on a regular basis to review opportunities for working together. The work and information resulting from WastePlan will serve as reference information for future activities relating to alternative disposal options for the two municipalities. The EA Study concluded that there are three viable alternatives for long term disposal that can be pursued by either municipality at a later date.
“We are satisfied that both municipalities have sufficient short-term landfill capacity and we recognize the current need to focus on our respective waste diversion programs,” said Councillor Russ Powers, Hamilton Co-chair. “Ending the WastePlan study will enable both municipalities to put a priority on waste diversion activities,” agreed Councillor Damian Goulbourne, Niagara Region Co-chair. “Niagara is also working on the implementation of the Level of Service Study, which will reduce the reliance on residual waste disposal capacity.”
The options available for waste management have changed significantly in the five years since the Niagara-Hamilton WastePlan was formed. Many new alternate disposal capacity options are emerging that require further monitoring. Those options include waste-to-energy, stabilized landfill and refuse-derived fuel alternatives such as turning garbage into pellets used as fuel. In 2005, the municipalities’ consultants said thermal treatment, which includes incineration, is the “preferred alternative.”
“What we’re ending is the working arrangement with Niagara, and ending an EA study,” said Pat Parker, manager of solid waste planning for Hamilton, in a local article. “That doesn’t mean we don’t still have a recommendation in our master plan to pursue alternative disposal at some time.”
The two municipalities will instead focus on increasing diversion rates to 65 per cent. Currently Niagara sits at 41 per cent and Hamilton is at 42 per cent.
As well, Niagara is working on a 20-year contract with a private landfill in the area. Hamilton is working to extend the life of its existing landfills.
“We’ve recalculated our landfill capacity and we have about 25 years,” said Parker.