An Ottawa company has received $4 million from the Ontario government for a two-year demonstrationof its new waste-to-energy technology.

ot-plasco-plant-070427

Plasco's Trail Road demonstration facility is to process 85 tonnes of Ottawa's waste a day for two years. ((CBC))

"The message we're saying is that we need innovative solutions," said Minister of Health Promotion Jim Watson at a news conferenceFriday, where he called waste disposal in landfills "caveman technology."

"We can't simply be digging holes in the ground and burying garbage forever."

Plasco Energy Group began construction onits plasma gasificationdemonstration project at the site of Ottawa's Trail Road Landfill in September in a partnership with the City of Ottawa.

The $27 million plant isto divert 85 tonnes ofwaste a day from the city's landfills while generating enoughelectricity to run the facility andpower 3,600 homes.

Watsonsaid thecompany's technology will help solve theprovince's waste disposal problems and createeconomicgrowth.

Themoney, to be distributed over two years, is the first chunk of a $24 million fund announced in the 2006 budget for environmental and alternative energy technology pilot or demonstration projects using biological or renewable materials, he said.

ot-chris-gay-plasco-070427

Plasco executive director Chris Gay says the $4 million from Ontario is 'key' to getting the $27 million plant running. ((CBC))

Plasco executive vice-president Chris Gay told the news conference that new industries in Canadahave troublegetting startedwithout government help.

"These funds and support are absolutely key for us to get this plant built and in operation," he said.

Ontario moving too fast: environmentalist

Stephen Hazell, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said he thinks the government may be moving too fast and shouldfocus on reducing packaging and other waste insteadof backingunproven technology.

"We shouldn't be investing a lot of funds in a private company until we have a pretty good idea that this is going to work," he said.

Hazellsaid hethinks Plasco's technology should undergo an independent environmental assessment.

According to the company, the plasma gasification process decomposes waste under high heat and low oxygen intoa gas mixture called syngas,anda glass-like materialthat can be turned intoasphalt or concrete. Without oxygen, the waste does not burn.

Other leftover materials such as sulphur, chlorine and heavy metals will be separated for disposal.

The company earlier received a $6.6 million commitment from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, afederal government foundation.

The company hopes that when the demonstration project is finished, they will be able to build more plants and take more waste.

The City of Ottawais providingthe demonstration site andhas agreed to pay thecompany $40 per tonneof waste processed.