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Waste-to-energy projects are premature in central Alberta: Red Deer city council told

Raising Red Deer’s targets on diverting waste from the landfill could help advance emerging technologies, such as incineration projects that convert waste-to-energy, city council heard.
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Targets for diverting more waste from the Red Deer landfill could help kick-start more waste-to-energy projects, city council heard. (Contributed image).

Raising Red Deer’s targets on diverting waste from the landfill could help advance emerging technologies, such as incineration projects that convert waste-to-energy, city council heard.

Janet Whitesell, the city’s waste management superintendent, told council on Monday that the timing wasn’t yet right for the consideration of thermal treatment of municipal solid wastes. Among the reasons given was that the commercial technology “hasn’t found a commercially viable foot-hold in central Alberta yet.”

Council was told one private company was in discussions with the Town of Innisfail, but that project hangs on getting some waste from Calgary as the local supply would be insufficient.

“The waste management issues driving this and other technologies in other areas of the world are not the same issues experiencing in Red Deer,” states Whitesell’s report to council. Population density versus space doesn’t make incineration as viable an option here as in more crowded countries.

“But if not now, then when,” questioned Coun. Bruce Buruma, who wondered when would it be advantageous to charge forward with this technology.

Whitesell responded that the City of Edmonton has set the ambitious target of diverting 90 per cent of its wastes from its landfill, which will need some type of waste-to-energy technology to fulfill. Perhaps Red Deer will also need an ambitious goal, she added.

Mayor Ken Johnston said the matter can be discussed when the city revises its Environmental Master Plan. “Anytime we look to make another capital investment in the landfill it’s time to ask is there a better way?”