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Report on future waste options in the works

Anaerobic digestion among options for regional council to consider come the final report in June, however, based on timing, decision could be left for new council

A report on the future of Durham’s organic waste management is set to come to council in June, which could include a business case for an anaerobic digester. (Image courtesy of the Region of Durham)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

It is likely to be early-summer before regional councillors receive their first look at a final business case for an Organics Management Strategy, which could include an anaerobic digester.

Gio Anello, manager of waste planning and technical services, and Mirka Januszkiewicz, director of waste management service for Durham Region, recently spoke with The Oshawa Express regarding the business plan.

The region is developing an Organics Management Strategy in response to a potential ban on organics waste in landfills by 2022.

The Liberal government has proposed such a ban in its anticipated Provincial Organics Action Plan, which is being developed within the Waste Free Ontario Act of 2016.

Last summer, regional council approved a request for information (RFI) to identify possible proposals for the strategy.

Januszkiewicz says the region received 19 responses from various companies through the RFI.

“They came from the major players of waste in Ontario,” Januszkiewicz told The Express. “It’s a good indication that companies want to respond to our request for proposal.”

Results from the RFI should come to council in April, Anello reports.

Staff is currently deciphering these responses and that information will to help to develop the final business case.

Anello says staff is looking at a “June timeline” for consultant GHD Ltd. to deliver the final business case.

In July 2017, GHD Ltd. principal of solid waste Michael Cant was straightforward in telling council the region’s “existing organics management facility is at capacity” and can’t handle the consequences of landfill ban on organics.

At that same time, regional commissioner of finance Jim Clapp warned the organics management strategy would result in significant capital costs.

He estimated costs between $170 to $210 million, and that operating costs could jump from $31 million to $33 million.

However, according to Clapp, his estimates were very preliminary and would change based on the decisions of council.

As reported earlier by The Oshawa Express, there are two options for the region in terms of future organics management.

The first, in-vessel management, would build on the region’s current process by adding mixed waste pre-sorting, which would increase the current system’s capacity for additional organic wastes.

However, staff has noted in-vessel management would not likely increase the region’s diversion rate to the provincial goal of 70 per cent and wouldn’t likely produce compost that meets provincial standards for agricultural use.

In addition, this process would not produce a biofuel that could offset the use of fossil fuels and be of interest to potential energy or business partners.

The second process, anaerobic digestion (AD), is described as providing “a robust system which will be able to sort and process cross-contaminated materials from the single and multi-family residence waste streams.”

It is also stated that AD would easily meet an organic waste ban, create opportunities to participate in the Cap and Trade program and has the potential to increase the region’s diversion rate above 70 per cent, which in turn could extend capacity at the Durham York Energy Centre.

The AD service, if chosen by council, could be provided through a number of methods, including a fully or partially owned-regional facility or a privately owned-facility where the region would pay a tipping fee for material sorting and processing.

With the final business case expected  shortly before the summer recess, Januszkiewicz says it remains to be seen if the majority of future decisions will be made by the current council or its successor after the October election.

“We really don’t know this. This is a very big decision. I’m sure some of council would love to make this decision and some would defer to the next council,” she states.