Residual waste is garbage which cannot be reduced or diverted from disposal into recycling and organics collection programs. It refers to the handling and management of discards that are wasted in a way that does not threaten the environment or human health (Zero Waste International Alliance). Waste Watch Ottawa is committed to a zero waste but the reality is that for some while as we transition to a circular economy where materials and products are repurposed and not disposed of that there will always be some waste which is left after all reduction, recycling and composting options are exhausted. The aim however is to eliminate and minimize all residual waste to the extent possible.
No new landfill / No incineration
WWO believes that a waste management strategy based on reducing waste generation, maximizing waste diversion from disposal, and the application of proven best practices can result in extending the life expectancy of the city’s Trail Road landfill site to meet the 30 year timeline of the waste plan.
Finding a new landfill, getting the necessary approvals and construction will cost easily cost $250 million and the whole exercise could take at least a decade. The reality is likely to be that finding a new site within the bounds of the city will be very difficult or impossible. This would mean that a new site would need to be found in an adjoining municipality with all the political challenges and environmental costs associated with trucking Ottawa garbage long distances.
A mass-burn incinerator or any other kind of incineration technology, such as pyrolysis, could cost in the order of $300 million based on the experience of the Durham – York Covanta facility which is the most recent to be constructed in Canada. In addition, finding a site, getting the approvals, and commissioning such a facility could take a least a decade.
Technologies such as pyrolysis are still largely experimental, subject to technical and financing challenges, require extensive pre-processing of garbage and have not been successfully constructed at full operational scale for municipal solid waste.
The environmental and GHG impacts of continued landfilling, especially of organic wastes and incineration of garbage are significant. They can, and must, be avoided.
The Trail Road landfill should be viewed as an “evergreen” facility designed to last at least until the mid-2050’s and used to take only the minimum amount of waste that cannot be managed through waste reduction, recycling, composting, and other waste diversion programs.