The majority of our municipal solid waste ends up in a landfill site. Landfills are costly to manage, have a limited lifespan and occupy massive amounts of land. Landfills also release harmful, methane-rich greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and produce residual liquids that require further treatment and disposal.
With so many negative aspects for citizens and the environment, it is no surprise that the Ottawa 20/20 plan has called for more environmentally sensitive and innovative solutions to solid waste management.
Are there safer, cleaner alternatives to landfills? The answer is yes.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle . . . Recover
Our first priority must be to reduce, reuse and recycle what we use. This removes waste entirely from the disposal process. We know, however, that even the most aggressive reduce, reuse and recycle strategy will not bring our waste output to zero. Some municipal solid waste will still end up in a landfill.
Can we do something with waste that is not recycled? Not only is the answer yes, but we can do something that has a net positive effect on our environment and economy. We can recover the value in waste by converting the energy within it into electricity. In this way, we effectively address two of the most pressing issues for our community:
The technology to convert waste into electricity in a manner that is both economically and environmentally sound now exists, and was developed right here in Ottawa. This is the technology that is currently being evaluated at the Trail Road demonstration facility by the Ottawa-Plasco partnership.