Bury: Take the time to build a zero-waste future, Ottawa
The city of Ottawa is at the mid–point of developing its Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) with the recent release of a long list of options for a sustainable waste management future. In a major step forward, city council on July 9 adopted a zero-waste vision for the municipality.
The Trail Road landfill will reach capacity between 2036 and 2038 and this news has served to focus increased attention on the waste issue. There is, however, no silver bullet or black box that is going to make waste go away. Reaching for a zero-waste future is going to require aggressive waste reduction, enhanced waste diversion, political leadership and a sustained effort to implement a wide range of mutually supportive policies, programs and waste management systems.
We have some time, though, and it can be done.
Some people have suggested in the pages of this newspaper that the city should abandon the SWMP and instead fast-track a decision for either a new landfill or an incinerator. A proponent of an unproven pilot-scale technology recently lobbied the city’s environmental protection, water and waste management committee to bypass the council-approved waste-planning process and give it an inside track for a city contract.
There are no short cuts. The waste-management planning process needs to be allowed to work as it was designed to with an open consultative public participation process and a solid technical and professional evaluation of the options that have been identified.
Admittedly, we will always need some disposal capacity, but there is a huge amount of data and real-world experience that shows that the city can reduce our waste footprint and significantly enhance waste diversion through such means as ramping up organics collection and using anaerobic digestion to produce bio-gas, as the city currently does at the wastewater treatment plant.
We can avoid replacing Trail Road or building an incinerator if the city adopts many of the waste-diversion policies and programs that are set out in the long list of options.