Why the incinerator is doomed to be an albatross

A chart was released by the Works Department at the March Waste Management Advisory Committee (WMAC) meeting which revealed that waste volumes have actually been declining for the last 5+ years and that the Region is already de-emphasizing recycling in order to ensure that there will be sufficient waste to run the incinerator when it fires up in 2014.

Total waste per capita has dropped 14% in 5 years. 

  • 2006 408 Kg
  • 2011 353 Kg

Here is a graph derived from the Region's numbers compared with the numbers in the Deloitte Business Plan prepared for Council in 2008. This business plan (like all business plans) was intended to show Council that the incinerator made good economic sense.

However 4 years later it is clear from the graph that their projections were way off and the rosy predictions of 70% diversion by 2022 were but a pipe dream.

Diversion in 2011 was only 53% while the Deloitte Business Plan projected 60% for last year. The Golder report commissioned by Durham Council in 2009 mapped out in detail with costing how Durham could have achieved 63.7% lasat year.

While it is difficult to draw long term conclusions from 5 years of numbers (2006-11), if you draw a line forward from the real (blue) points to 2022, you find a waste gap of about 150,000 tonnes.

The problem is that the Region has signed a contract to supply a minimum of 100,000 tonnes to the incinerator.

Because Durham has limited itself to only 2 waste options (recycle/compost and burn), if total waste is dropping then a larger and larger percentage will end up in the incinerator and less in the recycle stream. This is exactly opposite to the commitments made during the EA that the incinerator would 'drive' recycling and 'never' cut into it.

We didn't believe them then and we don't believe them now.

Doug Anderson presented these numbers at the June WMAC, and not surprisingly Works Department staff jumped to deny them. The Committee was not convinced and asked staff to prepare a report for their next meeting which would include how the Region could achieve 70% diversion by 2022 and still supply 100,000 tonnes to the incinerator.