City officially seeking new trash alternatives, councillors warm to incineration

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Stephanie Kinsella, CFRA News

The City of Ottawa is officially on the hunt for a new type of technology that will keep residential garbage out of a landfill.

A Request for Information (RFI) was posted on Merx.ca on Monday "seeking information from potential providers of residual processing technologies (other than landfill) for the management of 109,500 tonnes post diversion residuals generated by or managed by the City...This RFI is intended to identify potential established or emerging technologies that could be used in the future to manage residual waste."

The city is now exploring options because Plasco Energy Group missed the December 31 deadline to prove it had the cash needed to build a new plant by 2016, which means the city can now get out of the deal without any penalty.

The company heats garbage at a high temperature and converts it to a form of electricity. The city and Plasco had a 20-year, $180 million deal in place, but the city would only pay for the waste that was actually converted. The company had previously been granted two other extensions.

Councillor David Chernushenko, who chairs city hall's environment committee, told CFRA's Rick Gibbons’ Homepage Plasco might have a role to play, but isn't necessarily the entire solution.

"That is also an option and that's one we will be considering, and that should be part of the debate. OK, let's randomly say (Plasco) can only take 80% of the waste they said they could? Or there is a certain kind of waste they found that was technologically hard to process. Well, what would happen if we took that out, if we went with what they can do? Where does that leave us in terms of trying to avoid ever having to find a replacement to the Trail Road (landfill)?"

Chernushenko, along with some other councillors, appear to be warming up to the idea of incineration.

"Well, they key thing is you know, this isn't your grandfather's incineration," he said. "This is modern waste-to-energy incineration. I’ve visited a plant in Sweden...they are very high tech, very efficient, very clean but very expensive to build."

City staff will present a report at the February 17 environment committee meeting on what ideas, if any, are received from other companies and the next steps in the partnership between Plasco and the city.