Re: Problem Nova Scotia is facing with respect to waste plastics no longer being allowed to be shipped into China for disposal.
The Nova Scotia Liberal government’s concerns about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and its implications for Nova Scotia are prudent. It is not a free windfall of millions of dollars for recycling; it is new hidden user fees and taxes. EPR can also result in losing control over how and where packaging is recycled.
That said, we do need to be looking at system solutions that do not promote any expansion of single-use resources. Viable stewardship-oriented recycling should still be a priority. However, the reality is that we continue to send almost half the waste resources generated to landfills.
After 20 years of diversion efforts, ending landfill dependency needs to be a priority. There are innovative technology solutions like plasma gasification that can dramatically increase diversion from landfill. These technologies do not need waste plastics to be viable solutions, but they can effectively and efficiently process these zero-value materials into clean energy rather than have them end up in landfills.
Zero waste comes in two parts. First, we continue to prioritize recycling of marketable materials. The remaining resources destined for landfills can and should be re-used at their end of life for clean energy. That is how we can achieve the goal of zero waste. Innovative technology is only one component of an integrated solid waste resource management system.
Materials and packaging changes will happen when costs drive it, but that will not eliminate landfills. Our experience over the past 20 years proves that. Given the landfill impact on the environment, and the decades of legacy green house gas and leachate implications, moving away from landfills should be a priority.
Innovative technology enables the end of active landfill dependency, will create new engineering, technician and industrial jobs, and help reduce municipal service program costs. We need to take the next step in modernizing the solid waste program to include innovative technologies, which will also significantly reduce the climate impact of managing end-of-life resources.
Chief Technical Officer of Nova Waste Solutions Inc.; of Fourth State Energy