By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
“I have never seen anybody so passionate about garbage,” joked Mayor Jack Van Rijn to Cam Mills, manager of economic and community development during the Nov. 8 Coaldale council meeting.
A presentation by Mills discussed the private sector partnership to build a blue bin waste processing facility within Coaldale. The ongoing partnership between the municipality and 2Point0 Ltd was an agenda item during the Nov. 8 council meeting and was aimed to, “provide an information update, given that we’ve been putting this deal in place over the past few years but with 5/7 members of council being new this term we felt it was important to bring them up to speed on the project,” said Mills.
The update laid out for council, the current solid waste program offered by the municipality, and the partnership solution with 2Point0 Ltd, whose goal is to mitigate associated costs with disposing of solid waste, including blue bin recyclables that must be transported to the Lethbridge facility.
There are costs associated with both transport and dumping (tipping) waste from black, blue, and green bins at the City of Lethbridge’s landfill and accompanying recycling facility. Mills’ presentation outlined features of the first of its kind partnership solution.
The facility will help the Town save money as the projected increases in tipping costs at the Lethbridge facility will inevitably impact the Town’s operating budget in the coming years.
“Finding innovative ways to address those costs is a great thing for us to do, that’s where this project arises from. Rates are (only) half this equation because there is a volume part of the equation also going up,” said Mills.
In addition to the estimated eight per cent annual increase in tipping fees, the rising population and subsequent increase in volume continues to pose concern for growing municipalities who do not have access to their own landfill or recycling processing facilities within municipal limits.
Building a landfill would be “close to impossible to build from a complexity perspective and a regulatory perspective and cost perspective. They are not holes in the ground, they are well-engineered and incredibly costly endeavours,” explained Mills. Additional benefits from an in-town facility dedicated to processing blue bin waste provides an expanded capacity for what can be put into curbside blue bins. Plastic shopping bags, shredded bagged paper, paper cups, and wax lined paper products will be accepted leading to a further reduction of black bin tipping expenses.
Mills spoke to the, “inflation problem in (the waste disposal) industry(…)What will rates be in 2025? 2030? Providing this service is difficult to get around so it’s not surprising that we would see cost of handling waste go up more than the cost of general services.”
Mills also spoke to some of the economic advantages of the facility. The privately owned facility offers an arrangement where, “the Town is providing land for the facility for a combination of cash and services in lieu to provide for the construction on the facility.” He added that the advantage of a privately owned facility would generate continuous property taxes and contribute to creating a number of jobs at varying levels within the municipality. Mills said the program will allow the Town to, “hedge against inflation (with respect to an) essential service offering significant operating cost saving potential, and other positive economic impacts.”
Mills is hopeful this partnership will be a factor in demonstrating to potential investors the Town’s forward thinking attitude and desire for innovation. This out of the box solution will allow the Town to divert blue bin waste from the Lethbridge recycling site at the landfill. This blue bin volume currently amounts to over 502 tonnes (1.1 million pounds) of waste annually, for which the Town incurred blue bin tipping fees of about $55,000 in 2020.
Designated material surcharges were a concern with doing away with the blue bins altogether since the City of Lethbridge mandates that recyclables need to be separated from black bin household waste.
“If a portion of a black bin collected truck is found to be designated materials (recyclables), the load would then be subject to a $50/tonne surcharge. If we eliminated the blue bin, we are not simply applying that $50 extra per tonne to the 500 tonnes of the blue bin, we would be applying it to the black bin weight as well.”
This means based on 2020’s numbers, it could cost $165/tonne in tipping fees for about 2000 tonnes of combined household waste and recycling if the Town opted to eliminate curbside recycling altogether. The move would equate to a roughly $100,000 annual cost increase just in tipping expenses for the Town. Mills also said there would likely be “almost 100 per cent transfer” of organic waste into black bins if the green bin program was eliminated which would add an additional $70,000 increase in tipping fees annually.
Although not the main focus of the facility, Mills added the local processing site has the potential to offer greater clarity with respect to environmental impact of recycling processing programs and provide low carbon fuel product. “the energy product side of the project is complicated, but it is the intention to provide green energy onsite through the use of a gas-ification system that has been used for years that has a high-quality fertilizer off-put.”
The facility capable of processing the Town’s recycling collected from curbside programs is set to be completed by mid 2022, “we’re excited to see construction of the facility begin soon,” added Mills.