2005 Waste — Co-winner 2
Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre, Ontario
Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre (OVWRC)
Combined Population: 42,941
Supported by five municipal partners, the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre (OVWRC) expanded the area's existing landfill site to include facilities for hazardous waste, recycling, organics and construction and demolition waste. The organics facility uses an Engineered Compost System (ECS), a system of closed containers that are filled with organic material and then heated to kill pathogens before being transferred to an outdoor composting area for further decomposition. The new facility has increased organics collection from less than 3,000 tonnes in 2002 to more than 4,200 tonnes in 2004. The collection rate for all other materials has also grown by about two-thirds over the same period.
The Laurentian Valley landfill serves five Renfrew County municipalities in Eastern Ontario: Petawawa, Pembroke, Laurentian Valley, North Algona Wilberforce and Sebastopol Ward of Bonnechere Valley. Residents in Petawawa, Pembroke and Laurentian Valley all receive curbside collection. Wilberforce and Sebastopol Ward residents transport their material to a transfer site in their communities.
The Laurentian Valley landfill was reaching capacity, and efforts to find a new space that could serve all five municipalities had not produced a suitable site. Instead, elected officials and community leaders came together to implement a waste diversion program that would extend the lifespan of the landfill.
Driving this decision was the position taken by officials and residents in the Township of Laurentian Valley. "Township leaders and residents said that they wouldn't support expansion of the existing landfill or take on new municipal partners unless a waste diversion program was included," says Elizabeth Kenrick, communications supervisor with the OVWRC.
The municipalities established a board of directors to oversee the project and signed a working agreement that covered all of the current waste diversion programs and included new ones. One council member from each municipality sits on the OVWRC board, and votes are based on each municipality's population. The board is responsible for overseeing the OVWRC's business plan, while a site manager reports directly to the board.
- All five municipalities have achieved a 55 per cent diversion rate.
- Following the February 2005 bylaw, curbside audits revealed that the number of garbage bags set out each week ranged from 0.9 to 1.7 per household (there is a two bag per week limit), indicating that the municipalities could reduce the garbage bag limit even further.
- Several other small municipalities within Renfrew County are now looking to the OVWRC to provide waste management options.
- Diversion rates for all types of materials have steadily increased since 2002 (see Table 1 below). Residential participation rates in all five municipalities also increased between 2003 and 2004. The participation rate for paper recycling in Petawawa, for example, jumped from 60 per cent to 90 per cent in one year.
|Agricultural Plastic (e.g.,hay bale wrapping)||3.13||5.51||15.66|
|Construction & Demolition||1,542.16||1,528.44||2,458.16|
- A COMMUNITY MARKETING PLAN IS ESSENTIAL. Although residents had no difficulty accepting the centre's location, as it was adjacent to the existing landfill, or the Blue Box program, OVWRC staff did have to contend with the "yuck" factor when it came to the organics program. "If you don't get acceptance from residents, it won't work," says Ms. Kenrick, who credits the OVWRC's strong communication strategy as being the key to educating residents.
- ALLOW FOR PUBLIC INPUT. During the centre's design phase, and as required by the Ontario Ministry of Environment, the municipalities established a public liaison committee to bring the public's concerns to the OVWRC board and gauge the community's response to policy or procedural changes. This public liaison committee still exists.
- PARTNER WITH LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS. The OVWRC partnered with the Ottawa River Institute and Destination Conservation (DC), an organization that provides resources and tools to elementary schools to teach students about environmental issues. The OVWRC covered the cost to rent buses to bring students to the centre as part of the DC program. The centre also conducted a drawing contest with the local schools, selecting winners to include in a colourful community calendar.
- WORK WITH RETAILERS. Initially, the OVWRC accepted biodegradable plastic bags as part of its organics collection program, but there was confusion over which bags were acceptable. When the OVWRC decided to stop accepting the bags, many stores still had them in stock. "We could have made the transition easier for residents had we worked with the retailers first," says Ms. Kenrick.
The centre's five-member board consists of council members from each of the five participating municipalities:
- Town of Petawawa
- Township of North Algona Wilberforce
- City of Pembroke
- Sebastopol Ward of Bonnechere Valley
- Township of Laurentian Valley
Each municipality is responsible for curbside collection and transfer stations, so an inter-municipal working group was formed. The group meets regularly with centre staff to provide feedback from residents. The board members then communicate this information to each municipal council.
- Natural Resources Canada for the Don't Scrap It program Educational programs with the Ottawa River Institute and Destination Conservation.