Saskatoon councillors ponder construction refuse, waste-to-energy incineration in garbage plan discussion

City councillors were able to ask questions about Saskatoon's long-term plan to cut its waste at a committee meeting on Monday.

City plan aims to divert 70 per cent of city waste from landfill by 2030

Saskatoon city council discussed a long-term plan to reduce the city's garbage at a committee meeting on Monday. (Submitted/Studio D Photography)

City councillors were able to ask questions about Saskatoon's long-term plan to cut its waste at a committee meeting on Monday.

Councillors were presented with the Solid Waste Reduction and Diversion Plan — the city's plan to divert 70 per cent of Saskatoon's waste from the landfill by as early as 2030.

The long-term plan includes projects like a curbside organics recycling program to be in place by 2023, as well as longer-term initiatives, like a potential ban on items from the landfill that could be recycled elsewhere.

"We see waste reduction as bringing an improved quality of life, improved environmental health, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced use of finite resources, economic diversity and, of course, deferred infrastructure investment for solid waste management," said Jeanna South, director of sustainability.

Currently, Saskatoon diverts 24 per cent of its garbage from its landfill, a much lower figure than the national average of 45 per cent.

The report states that initiatives like the Recovery Park — a one-stop recycling and waste facility to be built at the city landfill by 2023 — could significantly raise that number, by diverting much of the city's waste from construction and demolition.

Mayor Charlie Clark said the park could divert a lot of refuse from the landfill, as well as offer materials for others to use again.

"A lot of the material that can be utilized," said Clark.

"It's relatively clean out of the landfill."

The report estimates the park would divert anywhere from 5,000 to 17,000 tonnes of garbage from the landfill every year.

Bylaw for businesses and non-profits

During the meeting, Mayor Clark also asked about the plan by 2023 to make it mandatory for businesses and non-profits to recycle their waste. South said that the proposed legislation would apply whether businesses used the city landfill or a private landfill.

"The city's role there is to write the bylaw and and basically enforce the bylaw," said South. 

"We're not managing those those waste streams as we don't currently manage a significant component of the waste streams."

Clark also asked that administration report back on the feasibility of waste-to-energy incineration, where garbage is burned to generate electricity. The mayor said he had been asked weekly about the possibility of bringing the project to the city.

However, Katie Burns, manager of community leadership and program development said she understood the scheme was generally used by places that had to transport its waste incredibly far distances, and would be too expensive for Saskatoon.

"You see it in Toronto and Nova Scotia and other places like that," she said.

"It's also very common for those places to already have high diversion rates so that they are reducing the cost to incinerate."

The report will be forwarded to Saskatoon City Council for its next meeting.