Nova Scotia Moves to Consider Energy Recovery as Diversion

Connector Winter 2019

Nova Scotia is moving to allow plastic, cardboard and newsprint to be used in waste-to-energy plants – a move a Halifax environmental group says is “doubly disappointing.”

Environment Minister Margaret Miller said the changes to solid waste regulations announced Wednesday will give businesses an opportunity to “create something useful from waste destined for landfills.”

The department said Nova Scotians send an average of 404 kilograms of waste per person to landfills each year, while the national average is 688 kilograms. Miller said the overall goal is to deal with the province’s waste stream and she’d like to see that figure get down to 300 kilograms or less.

“It doesn’t take away at all from the province’s recycling program. We still expect Nova Scotians to recycle.”

The changes effectively remove the disposal ban for so-called thermal treatment facilities.

Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre called it a move in the wrong direction.

“In the waste hierarchy, energy recovery or waste-to-energy is just one above landfilling,” he said. “We’d much rather see an emphasis on reduction, recycling and reuse rather than energy recovery – or as some have called this, glorified incineration.”

Butler said he’s not surprised by the move because technology companies have been pushing the province for the change for the last few years.

Nonetheless, he’s “doubly disappointed” because the province is failing to take the lead in two crucial areas both municipalities and businesses want to work together on: the reduction and elimination of single-use plastic such as bags, and extended producer responsibility, where companies that make plastic products are responsible for taking it back and reusing it or recycling it.

The Environment Department said the changes to solid waste regulations are about “allowing new solutions” to reduce waste in landfills, and also clarify that the province considers energy recovery as waste diversion.

It says recyclable materials will still be banned from landfills, while waste-to-energy facilities will still need all of the required environmental assessment and industrial approvals.

Source: National Post