Review shows Regional District of Nanaimo’s waste plan on track

NANAIMO – Options explored to reduce solid waste, increase recycling in regional district.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is working its way towards its goal of zero waste.

A review of its 2004 Solid Waste Management Plan is currently underway and according to information from the recently completed first stage, which assessed current waste management systems, all major items have been implemented. This includes the collection of food waste and the prohibiting of commercial food scraps at the landfill, leading to one of the lowest per capita landfill disposal rates in the country – 350 kilograms per year.

The region is also seeing 68 per cent of waste being diverted from the landfill.

While garbage collected in the regional district amounted to 283 kilograms per household a year in 2009, that decreased to 165 kg per household per year in 2013. The amount of compostable food waste collected has increased from five kilograms per household a year to 107 kg per household during the same period.

The regional district is still examining ways to further reduce waste with the second stage of the review, according to Dennis Trudeau, general manager of transportation and solid waste services.

“We’re going to look at the options that are available out there to increase our diversion of waste,” Trudeau said. “There may be an opportunity to review options on how we deal with our disposal.”

Trudeau said innovative waste management options, including waste-to-energy, have been examined since 2004 with three consultant reports that have gone before the board.

“The most recent one was 2011 where we actually looked at waste-to-energy with the [Capital Regional District] and [Cowichan Valley Regional District] and ourselves because just going on our own, we don’t have enough tonnes per year to make it economically viable, so by joining with two other larger regional districts, we have more of the throughput, which can make the waste energy look more attractive,” he said.

The regional district examined mass burn, gasification and plasma gasification technology, with mass burn being the most economical currently, according to Trudeau.

And while there is talk of a possible Metro Vancouver waste-to-energy plant in Nanaimo, the regional district doesn’t have any current plans for such technology.

“We also recognize that Metro Vancouver is going to be making a decision which has the potential to possibly change what options are available and the recommendation was really just to accept the study for information and that we will explore the feasibility of waste energy as new information becomes available,” he said.

Stage 3 will see the confirmation of options, a final draft and submission to the province for approval and Trudeau believes the solid waste management plan review should be complete by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

B.C.’s Environmental Management Act requires regular updates of solid waste management plans.

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