Metro Vancouver halts incinerator plans, as waste plummets

Metro Vancouver has put a hold on plans to build another waste incinerator as waste volumes plummet, turning back to the land-fill in the meantime.

Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore says proposed incinerator reconsidered as garbage flows decrease

In Europe waste-to-energy plants, like this one, are proliferating. (Getty Images)

Metro Vancouver is re-thinking its plan to build another waste incinerator now that people are throwing less garbage out and diverting waste more to recycling and compost.

The chair of the Regional District says a few months ago the proposed plant size was halved, but now they are not even sure there is enough garbage to feed the smaller 250,000-tonne plant.

So they are turning back to the landfill to handle the region's solid waste, but only temporarily, while they reevaluate the plan.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore says the incinerator or some other form of waste-to-energy conversion plant is the future for garbage in Metro Vancouver. (Twitter)

"With that decrease, and that uncertainty of our waste flow we thought it was best that we stop the current process," Greg Moore told CBC in an interview on Thursday.

Waste-to-energy plants, like the one just built in Peel, Ontario and those popular in Europe, are better than landfills, added Moore who expects one will eventually be built.

"We know [a waste-to energy facility] is best for the environment instead of putting it in the ground and letting it rot there forever and it's the most economical," said Moore.

He said municipal efforts to get people recycling and composting are making a huge difference, cutting the amount of waste produced to 62 per cent of everything that's thrown out, about half of what regional officials were planning for even five years ago.

With different technologies emerging regional officials are looking carefully at what works best, given the waste people throw out.

"We can see [waste-to-energy facilities like gasification plants] emerging all around the world, especially in Europe," said Moore.

We know [a waste-to energy facility] is best for the environment instead of putting it in the ground and letting it rot there forever.- Greg Moore, Mayor of Port Coquitlam

He expects the region will keep researching and pick the best kind of waste-to-energy model, at the right size, in the next year or so.

Not everybody is as keen on that vision.

A group with a smokestack-shaped mascot called the Burn Free Coalition dogged Metro Vancouver politicians who supported a new incinerator during the election in the fall of 2015, urging them to think of other solutions that would not hurt the Fraser Valley's air quality.

Meet "Mr. Burns," the Burn Free BC Coalition's anti-incinerator mascot, which was inspired by Mr. Floatie, the excrement-shaped mascot that popped up during sewage treatment debates in Victoria. (Burn Free BC Coalition)

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