Waste Management, North America’s largest landfill operator, has announced plans to expand its roster of landfill gas-to-energy facilities. The program calls for the creation of 60 more renewable energy facilities in North America over the next five years. These new plants, together with existing facilities, will enable the company to generate more than 700 megawatts (MW) of energy.
Waste Management plans to bring its four landfills in Ontario and two landfills in Quebec on line within the next five years.
“We’ve proven that landfill gas to energy is a viable option for Canadian jurisdictions,” said Paul Pabor, vice president of renewable energy. “We’ve had tremendous success with our Sainte-Sophie landfill site in Quebec that saved a local paper mill from being shut down in 2005 by supplying 75 per cent of its energy needs. The site reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 540,000 tonnes a year — the equivalent of removing about 120,000 cars from the roads.”
Waste Management designed and operated its first landfill gas-to-energy facility in the United States over 20 years ago. With 281 landfills, Waste Management is in a unique position to expand waste-based renewable power generation in Canada. The company is also exploring partnerships to expand its landfill gas-to-energy technology to other private and municipal landfills.
Its announcement, however, was accompanied by an extensive cautionary note detailing risks and conditions that might affect the planned expansion. Changes in overall economic conditions, unforeseen costs, regulatory changes and emerging trends relating to recycling, at-source waste reduction and/or disposal of certain types of waste are cited as potential negative influences on the company’s plans.