This highlights the need for communities to adopt the Zero Waste goal
adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance at
Incineration an option, study says
Advanced burning techniques only way to get free of landfills, experts
By JEFF GRAY
Globe and Mail
December 17, 2004
Getting anywhere close to the Toronto's ambitious goal of diverting 100 per
cent of its waste away from landfill is impossible unless the city considers
burning its garbage, a new report says.
"The goal of 100-per-cent diversion from landfill by 2010 is not
achievable," says the report from an advisory group of citizens and experts,
But if Toronto decided to use controversial "advanced thermal technologies"
-- which environmentalists warn is just incineration in all but name -- the
city could redirect as much as 88 per cent of its garbage from landfill, or
even 96 per cent if the province eased its rules on how the resulting ash
can be used, the report says.
"There's no one in the world that gets 100 per cent," said Brian Howieson, a
waste-management consultant who co-chaired the waste advisory group, which
took two years to produce yesterday's report.
Without burning the garbage, the best-case scenario the city could hope for
would be 75-per-cent diversion. The city expects to hit at least 40 per cent
by 2006, when its green-bin organic-composting plan will be completely
Gord Perks of the Toronto Environmental Alliance said newfangled "advanced
thermal technologies" are simply an updated version of incineration, which
produces air pollution.
"It's making your lungs the landfill," Mr. Perks said, saying that burning
garbage puts harmful dioxin, mercury and lead into the environment. ". . .
It doesn't matter whether you call it thermal or incineration; you're
polluting when you burn garbage."
He said the city should press the province and Ottawa to force manufacturers
to make their packaging recyclable.
A spokesman for Mayor David Miller, who opposes incineration, said the mayor
will look very skeptically at any new technology pondered by the city.
"Our position on incineration hasn't changed," Patchen Barss said, adding
that the city will evaluate all of its options as part of an assessment on
the garbage question set to start next year.
Works committee chairwoman Jane Pitfield said the city needs to keep all of
its options open, including the new thermal methods mentioned in the report.
"We know there are no large-scale landfills available," Ms. Pitfield said,
adding that the most the city can realistically hope to divert is 65 per
cent, leaving a question mark for the remaining waste if "advanced thermal
technology" is ruled out.
Mississauga has an incineration plant that meets all of the province's
emissions standards, she said, so Toronto should be allowed to build one,
The advisory group's Mr. Howieson said the new thermal systems, such as
gasification and pyrolysis, involve subjecting waste to high temperatures
but without oxygen. He said the process allows the garbage to be burned much
more cleanly than in old-fashioned incineration plants.
But deputy mayor Sandra Bussin, who represents the east-end ward that
contains the Ashbridge's Bay incinerator -- shut down two years ago --
opposes any move toward burning garbage, whatever it is called.
She said she fears that any new facility would be located at the Ashbridge's
Bay site in her ward.