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Region may divert up to 10,000 tonnes of waste from incinerator this year

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The region could possibly divert up to 10,000 metric tonnes of mixed waste from the Durham York Energy Centre to avoid an exceedance of capacity regulations this year.

Staff recommendations in the 2018 solid waste management servicing and financing study for 2018 suggest the region enter into a sole-source contract with Canada Fibers Ltd. in order to process the diverted waste at the company’s pre-sort facility located in Vaughan.

The contract with Canada Fibers Ltd., which would cost Durham approximately $500,000, could receive approval from regional council at today’s meeting.

The DYEC is approved to process 140,000 tonnes of waste each year, 110,000 from Durham and 30,000 from York Region.

However, staff anticipates the DYEC could potentially generate upwards of 120,000 tonnes of waste from Durham this year, which would result in excess waste having to be disposed of by other means.

Gio Anello, manager of waste planning and technical services for the region, says, “at the time of planning the facility it was assumed that an increase in diversion would offset the increases in waste requiring disposal as a result of population growth.”

However, Anello acknowledges waste diversion rates have not increased as quickly as anticipated and thus the possibility of reaching capacity levels at the DYEC has occurred sooner than expected.

Anello expects the region will need to divert some waste “until such a time as capacity can be created through diversion programs or a DYEC expansion.”

Any increase in the centre’s capacity would require approval by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Despite the half-a-million dollars in cost, staff believe the partnership will provide other benefits for the region.

“..The pilot would provide key current data to inform the current organics management study and plan implementation,” the study states. “Through the pilot, the region could confirm the current composition of its single-family and multi-residential mixed waste, receive key data on 2018 organics capture rates, and the rate of probable contamination and unmarketable wastes. All of these factors could affect the organic management strategy business case.”

This decision is just one of many facing councillors and staff in regards to waste management this year.

The Ontario government’s anticipated Provincial Organics Action Plan, which is being developed within the Waste Free Ontario Act of 2016, calls for a potential ban on organics waste in landfills by 2022.

A consultant told council in July 2017 the region’s “existing organics management facility is at capacity” and would be unprepared to deal with the consequences of such a ban.

At that time, commissioner of finance Jim Clapp projected capital costs related to an overhauled organics waste management plan could range from $170 million to $210 million while operating costs could also increase by $31 million to $33 million.

Another area of uncertainty revolves around the future of the Blue Box Program.

The province’s Waste Free Ontario Act will eventually shift the responsibility for the collection, transfer and processing of Blue Box materials to the packaging producers.

As reported earlier by The Oshawa Express, Producers will be required to meet ‘stringent’ recovery rates for designated products and packaging, as well as to seek new packaging approaches to reduce waste generation and educate the public and involve stakeholders in participating in the new program.

The region currently contracts its Blue Box collection and transfer services to the Miller Group, with processing being handled at the Durham Material Recovery Facility (MERF).

The net cost of Durham’s Blue Box Program is $7 to $9 million annually.

It is believed that changes to the Blue Box program would save the municipality between $5 million to $6 million a year.

The new act does not include any changes to other waste management such as household waste and green bin collection, leaf and yard waste and other specialized collections for electronics and batteries.

It is noted by staff within the report that these changes, coupled with other factors, cause “uncertainty and challenges in 10-year capital and five-year operations requirements.”

As growth in the region continues, waste requirements are expected to increase as well.

The amount of collection stops in Durham is estimated to grow to approximately 205,000 this year, up 0.5 per cent from 2017 and seven per cent from 2012 levels.

Over past the five years, the annual increase in collected tonnage is up an average of 1.3 per cent, down from an annual average of two per cent over the previous decade.

However, it is noted in the study that a decline in tonnage doesn’t mean less waste is being collected.

“In fact, more waste is being managed, but the weight of individual items has been reduced over time to improve costs and functionality of products and packaging. For example, glass containers have been replaced with plastic and large household items have been downsized or lightly weighted,” the study states.