Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy

Newfoundland and Labrador currently has approximately 200 operating waste sites located throughout the province including over 20 teepee type incinerators. The number of sites expected to close under this initiative will be approximately 160 and for the ones that remain the province will work with the communities and regions to improve their operation.

Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest waste disposal levels per capita in the country. In the past, the province has spent the least per household on waste management when compared to all other provinces. It was acknowledged that something had to be done to curb these trends and end the ongoing environmental degradation throughout the entire province.

The Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy was first identified in 2002 but stalled mainly due to a lack of funding to implement the strategy. The provincial strategy will aim to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills by 50 per cent. Revisions to the 2002 strategy include an amendment to waste management standards and regulations to provide that liner systems will not be required for existing sites where geological features on the site provide effective protection to the environment; and changes to the timelines – committing to advancing the strategy with full implementation by 2020 which was originally identified as 2010.

A number of factors were identified as impeding implementation of the strategy including: no funding source, resistance by some communities to close waste sites, the absence of firm standards, and no implementation plan. Since the change of government in 2003, significant progress has been made, most notably a source of funding for the estimated $200 million strategy was established, environmental standards and policies were developed, and an implementation plan was constructed. Prior to the identification of funding, progress was being made as evidenced by the reduction in waste sites from 250 in 2002 to the 200 in operation today.

The Provincial Government has committed to advance the waste management strategy with a goal to have full implementation by 2020. Funding for the implementation has been established through the Gas Tax ($22 million over the first four years, and a further $50 million in the years to come. There is a potential for $125 million by 2020 subject to the extension of the program), Municipal Capital Works ($5.5 million annually), and government is pursuing additional funding avenues.

Implementation

The framework in which the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Strategy will follow was recently adopted by government. The following sections outline each major priority and action to be taken in the coming months and years:

Waste Diversion

The government will pursue waste diversion initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of waste going into landfills by 50 per cent. This strategy will be supported by the use of disposal bins, the development of diversion programs, and by researching new waste diversion programs, etc.

Regional Waste Management

Delineation of the province into 15 regional zones has already taken place. There are 11 zones on the island portion of the province with four others in Labrador. With the proclamation of the Regional Service Board Act in 2004, government will now work to form regional boards whose mandate will be to oversee the development of the regional waste disposal sites and various transfer stations province-wide. One such Regional Service Board already exists on the Northern Peninsula.

There will be three full service regional waste disposal facilities (super sites) to be developed in the Avalon, Central and Western zones of the island portion of the province. Once the three super sites are operational, the remaining eight island zones will develop systems to transport waste to the three full service facilities.

Concurrent with the development of the three regional facilities, work will be undertaken to close as many existing sites as possible, consolidate waste management activities, significantly enhance recycling and diversion programs and develop the transportation infrastructure required to provide full integration into the three regions.

Modern Standards and Technology

The Department of Environment and Conservation is responsible for providing the standards and regulations that govern the design, construction and operation of new waste management systems and facilities, and the closure of existing non-contained waste management systems.

The department has developed six new environmental standards that apply to new waste management systems, lateral expansion of new waste management systems, or decommissioning of unlined existing landfill sites.

The environmental standards include:

  • Municipal solid waste landfill sites are landfills that are lined with leachate collection and treatment. These sites will accommodate the disposal of waste that cannot be reduced, recycled, composted, or processed in some other manner.
  • Municipal solid waste compost facilities will collect all organic waste that has been separated from other solid waste and convert it to a beneficial product - compost.
  • Material recovery facilities. At this facility, dry wastes are received and recyclable materials separated for shipment to a recycler, and non-recyclable materials shipped to the landfill.
  • Municipal solid waste transfer stations. Communities located away from a disposal site will have waste collected in compactor trucks and shipped to a transfer station. A waste transfer station is an interim storage facility where waste is consolidated for shipment to a final disposal facility, a composting facility or a material recovery facility.
  • Construction and demolition waste disposal sites. Solid waste material from construction and demolition projects is collected at these sites. Some of the collected materials will be reused or recycled, and a small percentage may have to be disposed.
  • Closure of non-containment landfills. Existing landfills will be closed as communities move to the engineered regional sites. These standards will ensure appropriate steps are implemented in the closure of the existing sites.

These standards require treatment, containment and continuous monitoring to reduce and eliminate any environmental impacts. Systems operators will be required to have formal training and contingency plans prepared. They will also be required to report regularly to the department.

Maximize Economic and Employment Opportunities

The government will actively pursue opportunities to maximize economic and employment benefits with a distinct focus on stimulating regional benefits.

Timelines

The Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy will begin immediately, with the following time-line for specific targets and goals:

Strategy Commitment Projected Date of Completion
Eliminate open burning 2012
50% waste diversion 2015
Phase out unlined landfills  2020
Full province-wide modern waste management 2020
Reduce number of waste sites by 80% 2020
Schedule for Advancing the Strategy Projected Date of Completion
Eliminate open burning in the Avalon region 2007
Avalon regional site fully operational and eliminate open burning in Central region 2010
Central site fully operational and eliminate burning in Western region 2011
Western regional site fully operational 2016
All non-host waste management zones fully integrated 2020