April 22, 2002

Newfoundland waste strategy sets goal of 50% diversion, 80% cut in landfill sites

A finalized waste management strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador, unveiled April 10 by provincial and municipal officials, sets goals of 50% diversion of materials sent for disposal by 2010 and an 80% reduction in the number of landfills. Open burning at disposal sites will end by 2005, with use of incinerators to be phased out by 2008. The strategy will also phase out the use of unlined disposal sites by 2010. The provincial government is pledging to have full, modern waste management systems in place province-wide by that date.

Provincial Environment Minister Kevin Aylward said the plan will not only contribute to a cleaner environment, it "will also contribute to the expansion of economic opportunities in environmental industries and the development of new opportunities in these key sectors. In fact," he added, "developing a provincial waste management strategy was identified as a priority action for government in the Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth."

Five primary actions form the core of the strategy.

Increased waste diversion: This will involve disposal bans for specified materials, as well as the implementation of diversion programs and expansion of the province's Green Depots. Government itself will lead by example, with all departments, as well as agencies receiving significant provincial funding, to be required to develop waste management plans within the next 24 months.

Waste management regions: To meet the goal of reducing landfill sites by 80%, the province will establish 15 Regional Waste Management Authorities (RWMA), which will enable communities to pool their resources for greater mutual benefit. Regional co-ordinators will be hired and trained as each RWMA is set up, with the province's Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) funding the position in each region for up to two years.

The government notes that some communities may be too isolated to make membership in a RWMA feasible, and so may have to continue operating local disposal sites. For these sites, however, efforts will focus on improvement and isolated communities will also be expected to contribute to the 50% waste diversion goal.

Modern standards and technology: Within the next six to twelve months, the government will set standards and regulations governing the design, construction and operation of waste management systems and facilities. All disposal sites will be expected to adhere to these standards and regulations. Incineration and the use of unlined landfill sites will be prohibited except in isolated areas where no alternatives exist.

Waste management economic opportunities: The strategy commits the government to maximizing economic and employment opportunities associated with waste management. The creation of RWMAs and the need for associated services is expected to create approximately 450 direct jobs throughout Newfoundland and Labrador by the time the strategy is fully implemented.

Public education: In order to create awareness and understanding of waste management issues, the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board will develop and run a province-wide public education program, expanding on its existing activities in this area. The aim of such programs will be to foster a change in attitude and practices at all levels, from individual through community and business sectors. RWMAs will be required to develop and carry out public information plans as a condition of approval.

Along with the MMSB, the provincial Environment and Municipal and Provincial Affairs departments, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Municipal Administrators will collaborate in implementing the strategy, in particular with respect to establishing the RWMAs.

While the cost of the new system was not specified, Aylward said the objective will be to minimize the financial impact on municipalities. "Modern waste management will cost more; however, the public consultations identified that people are willing to pay more," he noted. "Government will continue to work with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities and our communities to minimize those costs," he added.

Newfoundland and Labrador's waste management strategy is the result of work led by the province's four-member Waste Management Advisory Committee, set up in May 2001 to conduct public consultations on the strategy development. It sent its final report and recommendations to the government last October (ELW November 5, 2001).

More information is available from Diane Keough of the Department of Environment, 709/729-2575.

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