Ottawa needs 'proven' solution for garbage: Chernushenko

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Ottawa residents aren't interested in beta-testing another garbage technology, according to council's environment chairman.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko said people are saying, "Let's pick something proven, now."

The city helped test Plasco Energy Group's waste-to-energy technology for 10 years, but is recommending to end the partnership after the company failed to meet a final deadline on financing a commercial plant. Plasco also applied for creditor protection this week.

Finding a replacement partner could be months or years away for the city and the technology is constantly evolving. The city at least wants to complete a review of the green bin program -- scheduled to be done by the end of the year -- before considering another technology to process residual garbage.

Chernushenko said the best thing the city can do in the meantime is support its current recycling programs: black bin, blue bin and green bin.

He continues to hear from people who don't like using their green bins because of the ickiness factor. The city needs to do a better job of showing residents how to use their green bins, he said.

Others have wondered why the city doesn't burn all the garbage. Incineration is one of the proven technologies that could be available to the city.

"That, to me, I'll be blunt, was the lazy response," Chernushenko said. "That was, 'I don't want to have to deal with it, you take it and deal with it'. Well you know what? To those people, that's the most expensive way to deal with it. We are under provincial requirements to separate. We have to do this.

"We cannot build an incinerator until we have met an over 50% diversion rate, so it's not as if we even have that choice."

In fact, both Chernushenko and Mayor Jim Watson said they want to find ways to expand the green bin program to condo and apartment buildings this term of council.

WASTE OPTIONS FOR OTTAWA

The City of Ottawa asked what technologies are available to process municipal waste. The city received 37 submissions from companies describing their technology, including:

  • 5 waste-to-energy combustion/incineration
  • 9 waste-to-energy gasification
  • 6 waste-to-energy plasma arc gasification
  • 6 waste-to-energy pyrolysis
  • 3 waste-to-liquid fuel
  • 1 hydrolysis

Capital cost estimates ranged from $50 million to $275 million.

Submissions came from as far away as Korea, Japan, Spain and Germany. There were also submissions from Canada and the U.S.

Only four submissions provided proof of operating a commercial facility for municipal solid waste.