A waste management facility in Norris Arm could be up and running by the beginning of 2011, and it might have more than just the central region's waste to contend with.
Cory Grandy, director of the waste management division for the Department of Municipal Affairs, said the government is examining the possibility of not creating a regional site for the western region. Instead, waste from western Newfoundland would be brought to the central facility.
Grandy gave a presentation last week at Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador's annual general meeting in Gander.
Currently, a new waste management system for the western region is scheduled to be operational by 2016 - well behind plans for central and eastern. There hasn't even been a site selected for a regional facility in western Newfoundland.
The Western Regional Waste Management Committee has asked Municipal Affairs to consider using central Newfoundland for western trash, and Grandy expects to have more information on the matter by the end of this month.
Allan Scott, chairman, Central Newfoundland Waste Management (CNWM), said the Norris Arm site was created with a 50-year life cycle in mind, and is quite large.
"We certainly can accommodate the west coast coming over," said Scott, adding that the site needs to service a population of at least 100,000 in order to run at optimal economic efficiency.
"The region we represent is only 75,000, so having the west coast coming over would give us a population of 150,000. The operational costs would be improved, as the cost per tonne would improve by serving a larger population."
The Norris Arm site and the seven facilities located throughout the region will result in the closure of 36 dumps in central. It will operate a wet/dry program, with wet waste placed in green bags and dry waste into blue ones.
Dry waste is all dry recyclable and non-recyclable items, including cans, cardboard and paper products, fabric and clothing, plastics and glass. Wet waste would include food scraps, grass clippings and leaves, used paper plates and used sanitary products. Household hazardous waste items will also be accepted at the site.
Norris Arm hopes to have its composting facilities operating in 2011, with recycling ready to go by 2012.
"It's a $70-million project, and obviously it's going to have to be phased in," said Scott.
The removal of organic material from landfills for composting will reduce the amount of methane gas entering the atmosphere. Methane is considered a significant greenhouse gas.
Scott, who is also a Gander town councillor, said CNWM is awaiting final designs for the project. By waiting until 2011 to begin operating, he said, municipal councils will have an opportunity to ensure their budget for that year can handle any increased costs.
As part of the provincial waste management strategy, 80 per cent of dump sites are planned to be phased out. In 2002, there were 250, and 200 as of last year. By 2010, this is expected to be cut in half, with the final cuts leaving 50 dump sites across the province.
The program is also expected to eliminate most incinerators in the province, with only those serving isolated communities to remain.