Three Comox Valley Regional District representatives will head to the East Coast next month, where they will tour one of the country’s first impending Waste-to-Energy facilities.
CVRD chief administrative officer Russel Dyson and area directors Rod Nichol and Edwin Grieve will tour Sustane Technology’s 40,000-foot advanced recycling plant in Chester, Nova Scotia on May 31.
The Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) board approved the tour at its April 19 meeting in Campbell River, as well as a recommendation for staff to monitor Sustane’s waste management technology for one year.
The plant’s location is a fortunate coincidence. The three are already going to Nova Scotia for this year’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, which takes place in Halifax from May 31 to June 3. Chester is about 65 kilometres away from the Nova Scotia capital.
According to the CVRD, travel costs will be paid from the regional district’s annual budget of $25,500 allocated to travel and conventions.
Waste-to-Energy (WTE) is the process of converting solid waste into energy sources, including electricity, fuel, or heat. Also referred to as “advanced recycling,” WTE technology aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with large-scale waste management.
Though the $17-million plant in Chester will not be in operation until next year, Sustane claims it will re-purpose nearly 50,000 tons of household waste per year into biomass pellets and diesel fuel.
Nichol, who chairs the CSWM select committee tasked with studying the feasibility of WTE in the Comox Valley and Campbell River waste management systems, said information that comes out of the tour will help the CSWM board make an informed decision on whether or not to continue studying advanced recycling technology.
“The technology is going to be right there in front of us,” said Nichol, who has been an ardent supporter of WTE since the select committee was struck last year.
“It’d be silly of us not to go out and take a look at it.”
Despite support from some directors, CVRD staff have twice recommended putting WTE on hold until the Solid Waste Management Plan is up for review in 2022. Reports from consultants have found that implementing WTE will be considerably more expensive than the CSWM’s status quo of sending waste to the Comox Valley and Campbell River landfills. The Comox Valley’s new engineered landfill only opened last summer.
CSWM directors rejected staff’s recommendation in November.