Region to review solid waste dealings this year

A review of the region’s plan for dealing with solid waste will look at emerging waste-to-energy technologies.

This year Comox Strathcona Waste Management will be conducting a review of their facilities and investigating future options this year.

A review of the region’s plan for dealing with solid waste will look at emerging waste-to-energy technologies as well as the potential for a private landfill.

The review process, which the provincial government recommends be conducted every five years, is scheduled to get underway later this month.

The Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management Service, which is directed by a board made up of elected directors from both the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts (and includes city councillors), is preparing to issue a Request for Proposals in mid-January.

The successful proponent will be notified in early March and will be responsible for reviewing the region’s plan for the management of municipal solid waste and recyclables.

The current plan was updated in 2012 and must be renewed every 10 years, but the Ministry of Environment strongly suggests regional districts re-evaluate their solid waste plans prior to that.

“The Ministry of Environment (MoE) recommends that a review be undertaken after five years in order to analyze the plan’s implementation and effectiveness,” wrote Tristan Evans, a term engineering student for the waste management service, in a report to the solid waste board. “According to the MoE, the review should result in a report that is made publicly available (including online) and the ministry may request a review of the evaluation prior to public posting but it is not required to be submitted to the ministry.”

According to the scope of work to be included in the RFP, the successful bidder will be responsible for providing an updated overview on waste-to-energy technologies and an up to date analysis of the current state of those technologies and potential sustainability impacts on the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Service.

Waste-to-energy, the process of burning garbage into gaseous, solid and liquid products to generate heat energy and, subsequently, electricity, is considered in the existing solid waste management plan but as a future consideration.

Consulting firm AECOM studied such technologies when the management plan was updated in 2012 and a large scale waste-to-energy facility was found to be a more expensive option.

At the time, costs were estimated to be $45 per tonne greater to use waste-to-energy instead of a landfill for garbage disposal – a comparison that equated to a cost difference of $2.6 million per year.

During the review process, however, a section is expected to be added to the waste management plan that will look at and consider other emerging technologies.

The review is also expected to assess the impact of a private landfill in the Comox Strathcona Waste Management area and what the impacts of such a facility would be on the waste management plan.

“There is the potential for the opening of a private landfill in the future and this must be accounted for within the scope of the review,” reads the RFP guidelines.

The review is expected to be a nearly year-long process, with a draft report issued in May, followed by the development of the final plans in September.

The review will be presented to the solid waste board in October of this year.