Nova Scotia amends rules to allow waste-to-energy projects

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The Government of Nova Scotia recently gave the green light to waste-to-energy projects in the province. Nova Scotia’s solid waste regulations have been amended to allow thermal treatment facilities to turn plastic, cardboard and newsprint into energy. The changes clarify that the province considers energy recovery as waste diversion.

All waste-to-energy facilities will require an environmental assessment and industrial approvals before going ahead.

A potential benefactor of the amended regulation is Sustane Technologies based in Chester, Nova Scotia. The company is in the process of constructing a waste-to-pellets facility. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) provided $2.6 million in funding assistance in 2017 for the development of the facility.

At the media event in 2017 announcing the SDTC funding award, Leah Lawrence, President and CEO of SDTC, stated: “Sustane’s first-of-its-kind technology converts waste into useful products like synthetic diesel and recycled metal and plastic, potentially eliminating the need for landfills. This Nova Scotia–based company’s technology has applications around the world, and SDTC is proud to be its partner.” 

When fully constructed and operational, the plant will transform up to 70,000 tonnes per year of MSW into 35,000 tonnes per year of biomass pellets, 3.5 million litres per year of diesel fuel, plus recyclable metals.  The project will increase landfill diversion rates for Chester, Valley Waste Authority (Annapolis Valley) and Municipal Joint Services Board from approximately 50% to over 90%.

The project broke ground in March 2017 and is currently undergoing testing with full operation expected in Q1 of 2019.

A waste audit in 2017 by Divert Nova Scotia found 43 per cent of the garbage being sent to landfills is banned material that could have been composted or recycled. 

According to the province’s news release, recyclable materials will still be banned from landfills.

“Nova Scotians are national leaders in waste diversion, but there is still more we can do to keep waste out of our landfills,” Environment Minister Margaret Miller said in a news release. “We want Nova Scotians to continue to recycle and compost, but we also need to ensure we’re doing all we can to reduce our footprint. This will give new businesses the chance to create something useful from waste destined for landfills.”

Gordon Helm, Chief Technical Officer at Fourth State Energy & Nova Waste Solutions Inc., said “This is very exciting news for Nova Scotia, and the government’s stated intention to modernize our solid waste resource management regime. It’s a major step in reducing the harmful environmental impacts of active landfilling and the generations of emissions of methane GHG and the production of millions of litres of toxic leachate.”

Mr. Helm added, “Advanced thermal conversion technologies are a proven, cost effective, and energy efficient alternative to landfills and incineration. We can and need to continue to do more in terms of reducing waste resources, but waiting for the all or nothing solution is not the answer … In the end, any solution that moves us towards ending active landfilling is a worthy effort.”

Nova Scotians, on a per capita basis, send the least amount of waste to landfill – 404 kilograms of waste per person per year. The national average is 688 kilograms of waste landfilled per person per year.