‘Energy from Waste’ project update

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Aidan Belanger

MRC PONTIAC – In a radio interview with CHIP 101.9 on March 29, MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller spoke on the ‘Energy from Waste’ initiative, stating that the MRC has a group of dedicated employees working on strategies and opportunities to promote the Pontiac region as the location host for this facility.

Hoping to move away from using landfill and to find the best waste management solutions for the entire Outaouais, the project would make waste reduction, composting and managing construction waste top priorities.

The Pontiac is currently the only willing host for the facility, with two potential locations. One is the industrial park in Litchfield, which, according to Toller, would be an ideal location to build a waste management facility because it’s already zoned for this type of industry. Representatives from the MRC’s 18 municipalities have formed a Waste Management Committee, which includes mayors, municipal councillors, director generals and MRC staff. The Conférence des Préfets de l’Outaouais (CPO), made up of the 4 wardens from the Outaouais and the mayor of Gatineau, will begin working with companies involved in waste management who have expressed their interest to be part of the solution.

The Office of Public Hearings on the Environ-ment (BAPE) held a consultation across Quebec from March 2021 through January 2022. They released a report which included “an analysis of existing disposal or treatment methods as well as innovative technologies and mechanisms, particularly those used elsewhere in the world, from which Québec could draw inspiration to recover energy sources or materials while promoting circular economy principles and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” The ‘Energy from Waste” facility could possibly help fulfil these goals.

One hundred and forty thousand tons of municipal waste is currently sent to the Lachute landfill. The amount has actually increased in the past two years because of the pandemic, as more people at home have created more garbage. Toller states landfills are not the solution for the future and claims incineration may be the best choice for the province’s residential waste. Toller claims the ‘Energy from Waste’ facility would save $ 1.7 million in shipping costs and create 50 jobs. The warden hopes the sorting centre will also reopen in Litchfield, aiding in the removal and recycling of construction waste. The MRC is currently looking into widespread composting, with the intention to coordinate door to door pick up making it easy for residents to participate.

In the interview, Toller stated “Composting alone would remove up to 40% of the waste, which equals $ 680,000. In my opinion, this savings should come from the taxes, which means everyone will pay less.”

The environmental coordinator for the MRC Pontiac, Thierry Raimbault, who sits on the Waste Management committee, told the Journal the project is advancing. He said official updates will be made public as the initiative progresses. Toller noted it is an exciting time for Pontiac. “We are very proactive on this project. I think we are showing great enthusiasm and leadership, which I’m very proud to see.”

The proposed location and chosen technology for the waste management facility will be made by the CPO later this year. There will be public consultations before any final decisions are made.