If Metro Vancouver goes ahead with a plan to burn more of its garbage, the regional district’s incinerators will produce a total of one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, according to a local environmentalist.
Ben West, the Wilderness Committee’s healthy communities campaigner, told the Straight that’s three times the amount currently being emitted by the region’s only incinerator, which is located in Burnaby. By the Straight’s calculations, if incineration were expanded to that level today, it would represent about six percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions in the region.
On April 9, the Metro board will vote on a revised draft solid-waste-management plan for the region, which could trigger a new round of public consultations.
“We don’t want something that emits more carbon than a coal-fired power plant in our back yard,” West said via cellphone. “The first thing that people need to do is contact their municipal councillors and their Metro Van directors.”
On March 26, the Metro waste management committee voted unanimously to send the draft solid-waste plan to the board. At the meeting, West told directors to rethink the plan. He told the Straight that the plan would see incinerators become “the biggest source of climate-changing pollution in the Lower Mainland”.
The board will also vote on April 9 on whether to adopt a waste-diversion target of 70 percent by 2015, up from the current level of 55 percent. As well, directors will consider the option of sending waste to an out-of-region incinerator if it’s not possible to expand incineration within the region.
Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore, who is chair of the Metro waste committee, told the Straight that taking incineration off the table was not an option.
“Well, the discussion around the table was, ”˜Let’s put it out there so we can get everybody’s feedback,’ ” Moore said by phone. “There are a few people [opposed to the idea] that have come forward as we have had a draft strategy come through committee, but I think it’s important to have a draft plan in the full scale, so people can comment on all aspects of it.”
Patricia Ross, Abbotsford city councillor and Fraser Valley Regional District chair, told the Straight she is “really worried about the proliferation of incineration across Canada”.
“When you build an incinerator, you will forever need a landfill too, because you’ve got to have somewhere to dispose of the toxic ash,” Ross said by phone. “So, you are going to need both of them. But if you truly implement a zero-waste goal—and with changes in legislation to reduce packaging, more aggressive recycling—we can actually get towards zero waste and eliminate the need for landfills and incinerators.”