Composting infrastructure to cost an estimated $75 million

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Plan for diverting organic waste from N.L. landfills in the works

As of 2020, the provincial government expects to have spent $315 million bringing its waste- management strategy into reality.

Of the total cost, about $75 million will have been spent on infrastructure for composting, according to Municipal Affairs Minister Dan Crummell, who spoke with The Telegram Friday.

“It’s the largest regionalization strategy we’ve ever had in this province,” he said of the overall initiative.

“We’re doing this centralizing for the best interests of the people of the province and for future generations.”

Crummell said the estimates on the cost of bringing in large-scale composting specifically — including curbside pickup for organics in addition to curbside recycling — are becoming firmer as work on a provincial composting plan progresses.

No decisions have yet been made on collection methods for organic waste and schedules, what composting processes will be used, what infrastructure will be required, what useable products might emerge and where composting facilities will be located. But that will all be part of the coming provincial composting plan.

A key piece of what was required to determine how composting would be brought in has just been completed by Dillon Consulting.

The consultant was awarded a $160,000 contract in June 2013 to look at options for dealing with organic waste in the province. The work included an evaluation of existing services in each region, offering details on available composting technologies and potential methods for collection in the province’s seven regional waste management areas.

In March 2014, a “final report” was filed by Dillon with government, providing some cost estimates. A review by the Department of Municipal Affairs and representatives from the various waste-management boards, the consultant was asked to provide additional information, to clarify some of the available options, Crummell said.

The Telegram requested the original report earlier this year and was denied the document. It was released this week, however, after the paper filed an access to information request.

“It’s not the final, final report,” he said, explaining the true final report — with the requested additions and clarifications — was submitted July 31 and is now under review.

That will be made publicly available within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the information available to date shows evaluations for 16 composting methods and outlines considerations for the province — including declining population projections in some rural areas and a look outside a one-size-fits-all approach.

It notes Eastern Waste Management does not see the Robin Hood Bay site as being a good home for composting facilities in its region. A location referenced as “Dog Hill,” mapped as being in the area of Conception Bay South, was noted as a potential alternative.

The current, overall provincial strategy to modernize waste management was released in 2007 and focused on closing scattered dumpsites, the creation of regional waste management boards, closure of teepee incinerators, the goal of ending the open burning of garbage and the aim to reduce waste going into landfills by 50 per cent. The original estimated cost of the plan was $200 million.

While passing by certain set timelines and running over budget, the Dillon report suggests a 50 per cent goal on waste diversion could be attainable in the near term — if large-scale composting is established.

Crummell said the hope is to reach the diversion goal by 2020.

Organizations: Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Robin Hood Bay

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