All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

Is Metro’s garbage gonna keep leaking? (or, what Belkorp wrought)

with 3 comments

Clawing away at our garbage...

Clawing away at our garbage…

So Belkorp and BFI won, and environment minister Mary Polak rejected Metro’s bylaw 280. It was a masterful PR and lobbying campaign on their part, and quite a few people in the environmental community got hoodwinked in the process.

The proposed bylaw said: whatever waste is generated in Metro Vancouver needs to be treated in Metro Vancouver – and pay Metro’s tipping fees accordingly.
Polak justified her decision by saying that this approach created a monopoly.

One of the opponents to the bylaw, NorthWest, has pledged to build a murf (a mixed waste recovery facility) to sort and recover recyclable and compostable material in Coquitlam.

But the question is not whether this facility will be able to deliver on its (questionable) promise to divert 80% of the waste away from disposal; rather, it is: why build one at all?

Without the bylaw in place, the cheapest solution is to ship waste to Washington State through the transfer station in Abbotsford. Currently about 20% of the commercial waste is diverted this way, leaving an estimated $11 million hole in Metro’s budget. It would be naïve to think that figure isn’t going to grow without the bylaw; indeed, it would be irresponsible for commercial waste haulers not to seize this bargain. So why build any kind of costly treatment facility?

The net effect of this leakage, and resulting lack of funds, is the threat to any current attempts to treat garbage responsibly. Recycling, murfs, waste-to-energy, gasification, compost, any of these projects that are key to efforts to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are bound to be shelved.

The politics – and the PR campaign that Belkorp and co have mounted, are quite fascinating, in their own right (Frances Bula has covered the situation in detail here and here, articles well worth reading). By establishing a link between the bylaw and incinerators, they managed to fool the environmental community into doing its work, even though there was no link, as I described here, and even though, for that matter, WTFs deserve a fair hearing.

All in all, a bad decision for the environment, and another instance that shows that environmentalists, like everybody else, can shoot themselves in the foot. Sigh.


Written by enviropaul

November 2, 2014 at 8:11 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Thanks for posting this, Paul, and excellent links …


    November 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    • Thank you Jo-Ann! I’ve started exploring WP a bit – found your comment – and I think I’ll be able to create a facebook share button. Thanks for the feedback, at any rate!


      January 1, 2015 at 1:56 pm

  2. Thanks Jo-Ann!


    November 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm

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