Future-Proofing Waste Management

At midnight on June 22, 2009, approximately 24,000 City of Toronto workers went on strike.  Four days into the strike, the City announced it was opening 19 temporary garbage drop-off locations for residential waste.  After 36 days, the strike ended. In a little over a month, 48,900 tonnes of trash had accumulated. What this strike highlighted was just how much trash our modern society generates.

Waste is a polarizing issue.  Waste diversion techniques are being used by most major population centers.  But is it enough?  Municipalities, governments, First Nations, and other public organizations around the globe are increasingly looking for alternatives to address their solid, liquid, oil, and hazardous waste needs. Many communities face landfill usage limitations and high trucking costs to transport municipal solid waste to distant locations.

Many are familiar with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach to managing waste, but IGNITE views the waste process as the 5-R approach of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery, and Residual.

The fourth strategy of the 5-R approach, Recovery, means to recover as much material and/or energy from the solid waste stream as possible through the application of technology. The Recovery strategy views waste not as something to be discarded, but as a valuable resource to the community. Through proven technologies known as Waste-to-Energy facilities, a variety of different types of waste can be turned into bio-diesel, thermal heat, or even electrical power. Technologies have advanced, so Waste-to-Energy facilities can be safely operated onsite within communities with no harmful emissions.

Residuals management, which is the fifth and final strategy of the 5-R approach, means to provide safe and effective waste disposal. This is the least effective strategy of dealing with waste. It does not deal with the waste, it just buries it.

To learn more about the 5-Rs, contact IGNITE.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

― Elon Musk