Time for Metro Vancouver to forget about incineration, get going on composting

Canada figures prominently in a survey of North American cities that have moved "beyond recycling" and are providing composting programs for organic wastes—but B.C. is hardly on the map.

Of the 121 cities surveyed, 55 were Canadian, but only one was British Columbian. (The B.C. city that made the survey? It was Mission—a community that has been collecting food scraps separately since the 1990s.)

The major cities in B.C. are late entrants to food scrap composting. None had the track record to make the EPA survey. Vancouver, which touts itself as the Greenest City, hasn't even left the starting blocks.

The EPA report offers a rich mix of lessons learned by these 121 communities over the years.

While our waste management officials dither about what kind of incineration technology to choose, other cities are cutting their waste in half at a fraction the cost to burn it.

Helen Spiegelman is a Vancouver-based environmentalist and blog coordinator. Read more at Zero Waste.




Feb 4, 2010 at 11:36am

However much the "waste stream" is reduced, there is some portion left over that needs to be disposed of. Personally, I would favour incineration and the production of by-product electricity and steam over shipping the stuff to Cache Creek.
Rod Smelser

Ron van der Eerden

Feb 5, 2010 at 11:03am

Rather than spending hundreds of millions on incinerators we could spend hundreds of millions on eliminating waste altogether. That would be a permanent solution instead of the band-aid that so many like to apply. Waste is just laziness.
Mandate that all "waste" must be returned to the maunfacturer for proper disposal and see how fast they come up with solutions. There are a lot of excuses why we can't do this. But there are no excuses that future generations should accept.
Burning waste to create energy is a fools game. It takes ten times more energy to create the unecessary waste in the first place. Eliminate it.