The answer to the Cowichan Valley’s garbage problems may lie to the east.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District has decided to participate in an initiative to monitor and study how the new and innovative Sustane Technologies Waste Management facility, located in Chester, Nova Scotia, deals with its waste.
Sustane Technologies claims to have developed new technologies that transforms solid waste into high-value fuels, such as biomass energy pellets, diesel and recyclable materials.
Sustane’s first-ever North American facility in Nova Scotia, which has a capacity of 70,000 tonnes per year of solid waste, is undergoing its final tests and operations are anticipated to begin this year.
The CVRD will join the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Comox Valley Regional District in the performance monitoring program at the facility, at a cost to the district of $4,100.
“Like the CVRD, other regional districts on the island are interested in viable technologies to transform residual waste to marketable reusable products,” said Tauseef Waraich, the CVRD’s manager of recycling and waste management, in a report to the board.
“Since this is the first ever facility of its kind in North America, it is important to monitor the performance to determine its viability for local regional districts on the island.”
Since the closure in the late 1990s of the three incinerators and the regional landfill in the CVRD, the district has been in search of viable disposal solutions for its solid waste.
Waraich said the three incinerators were considered state-of-the-art facilities when they were constructed, but by the late 1990s, studies indicated they were adversely impacting the local air quality and their licences to operate were pulled by the province.
As for the landfill, Waraich said the old one was filled to capacity and no location within the CVRD could be identified for a new one.
“It was a case of nobody wanting it in their backyard,” he said.
Currently, the region does not have a disposal option for its sold waste other than export it to the Rabanco Landfill in Roosevelt, U.S.
The CVRD relies on a central waste transfer station at Bings Creek as well as two satellite facilities at Peerless Road and Meade Creek for regional waste collection and transfer to the Rabanco Landfill.
In addition to public facilities, private licensed facilities also accept waste for export and disposal at out-of-region landfills.
The CVRD currently produces approximately 94,000 tonnes of waste per year, with about 64 per cent recycled or composted.
The district’s solid waste, with approximately 20,000 tonnes originating from CVRD-owned facilities and about 14,000 tonnes from other sources, is sent to landfills for disposal.
Waraich said the CVRD’s solid waste management plan, which was updated in 2018, aims to reduce the region’s solid waste from 358 kilograms per capita per year to 250 by 2029, and 150 by 2040.
He said the solid waste management plan also recognizes the need to continue to explore alternative options for residual waste management.
“For reasons of financial efficiency, and to support triple bottom line objectives, it makes sense to partner with neighbouring regional districts on residual waste disposal, where viable,” Waraich said.
“The CVRD should continue to explore the feasibility of alternative disposal mechanisms as opportunities arise to ensure efficiency of the disposal system.”