Garbage Incineration: What are we Waiting For?

garbage incineration

Are you for or against garbage incineration?  I am a huge proponent of the theory and practice, so encouraged to hear it is being discussed here in Ottawa.

It has been proven to be efficient and successful in many advanced countries around the world, including Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, France, Denmark, and the USA. Canadian cities with success in waste-to-energy include Durham-York and Brampton in Ontario and Burnaby in BC.

The DYEC safely processes 140,000 tonnes per year of residential garbage that remains after maximizing waste diversion programs – reducing, reusing, recycling and composting – in Durham and York Regions.

Durham York Energy Centre

Canada’s Lagging Behind

Why then, if so popular in these other countries, is (most of) Canada dragging their feet with only a pitiful small percent of our trash sent for garbage incineration? We (some of us) are very focused on being the leaders in everything else, why not garbage incineration?

As our nation’s capital city, Ottawa should be leading the way with this proactive and modern technology. The use of dumps or landfills should be relegated to the history books, as the old-fashioned, inefficient relics they are.

MordorIntelligence offers the details on where Canada is on the waste-to-energy movement of which garbage incineration is the best-known method although it has its pros and cons. The biggest disadvantage is the pollution, for which there appears to be a solution:

  • To reduce particulate and gas-phase emissions, incineration plant owners have adopted a series of process units to clean the flue gas stream, which has, in turn, led to a significant improvement in terms of environmental sustainability.
  • Gasification of waste produces fewer emissions per unit of generated power compared to both incineration and landfilling.
  • The wide availability of technology, combined with a change in technology, is expected to lead to the increasing adoption of thermal-based WTE technology 

Support for Garbage Incineration

I read in the Ottawa Lookout, a local newsletter, recently that a few of Ottawa’s councillors are proponents of garbage incinerators. The issue of Ottawa’s garbage dilemma was brought up at the city council due to the opposition to a proposed “bag & tag” policy. The problem with this policy is that it is simply a bandaid fix for the next decade or so until our landfills reach capacity:

Long-term planning is always a challenge in politics. The question is whether council does something about it now, or punts it down the road.

Ottawa Lookout

Ottawa Councillor David Brown expressed his support of garbage incineration in a recent newsletter, agreeing that the proposed bag & tag proposal is a bandaid fix, one that is very short-sighted. In an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Councillor Brown also discusses why he believes a waste-to-energy approach makes the most sense.

From another article in the Ottawa Citizen, I read the good news that, from a motion put forward by councillors Allan Hubley (Kanata) and David Brown (Rideau-Jock), the Council did vote to study garbage inceration, which is a big step in the right direction.

There was a good discussion around the Council table regarding the need to move forward on finding a better solution, one rooted in proven technology that is more responsible to taxpayers, the environment, and future residents. I am pleased to report that the motion was carried unanimously.

Councillor David Brown, Rideau-Jock

So now we wait. The ball is rolling though, let’s hope it catches more support. Read the information within the links above to learn the details behind garbage incineration. Our future depends on support from Ottawa residents.

The Cons: Cost and Pollution

Granted, the start-up cost involved in garbage incinerators is quite significant, but the advantages are also significant:

Senior officials with Varme Energy, a Canadian developer in waste-to-energy and bioenergy projects, outlined an Innisfail, Alberta project that will include a private investment of between 150 to $200 million for a new state-of-the-art plant on 13 acres of land …the completed plant would employ about 30 full-time jobs, including plant manager and power engineers. The construction and facility commission would take about 30 months and employ up to 125 workers. The competed facility would be a consistent source of municipal property tax revenues.

Western Investor

Varme’s facilities would be the first in Canada to both generate energy from waste, and to capture the excess carbon and store it underground, a process that’s been piloted in Norway, but has not yet been tested in Canada.

CBC News

Most investments in our future are expensive. I won’t even go into the astronomical amount of money we have tossed at solar and wind power initiatives.

A few other Ottawa councillors expressed concern about the pollution generated by incinerators. What about the pollution generated when disgruntled residents start tossing their garbage in the ditches if they have to limit the garbage put to the curb every two weeks? Don’t even get me started on that issue, I cannot believe in the hot summer months when maggots are feasting on garbage, we only get our trash picked up every two weeks.

I’m not suggesting pollution is not important but let’s look for a viable solution instead of voting for a bandaid fix. Surely there are new-and-improved, current waste-to-energy solutions out there that are less “dirty.” Whether we find a long-term, viable solution or start looking down the road, we should be thinking proactively.

Recycling and Garbage Incineration go Hand in Hand

No one is suggesting we cut back on our recycling efforts. In fact, according to successful garbage incineration depends on vegetation, cardboard, household waste (no chemicals), and paper. Even plastic can be incinerated according to, in fact, it burns the best. That’s great since our plastic use has doubled in the past five decades and is expected to double yet again within the next two decades! That’s a scary fact for everyone, regardless of whether you are on the climate change bandwagon or not.

Where do you stand on this important issue? Would you rather find a proactive solution or keep our heads buried in the sand or, in this case, in the garbage?

Pruning Dormant Shrubs and Trees


In Ottawa (predominantly zone 4) this is a perfect time for pruning dormant shrubs and trees.  The trick is knowing what should and should not be pruned or cut back this early. 

Many trees and shrubs do not need pruning unless their growth is out of control or they have diseased, dead, or crossed branches.  All such branches should be removed any time of the year, but while dormant it is easier to visualize the crossing or damaged branches.  Cut broken branches back to the closest healthy branch.  Cut diseased branches back to the ground.  Cut crossing branches back to where they no longer cross/touch another branch.  You may have to choose which of the crossing branches is the best one to keep.

Here is a list of plants you can cut back NOW…

  • trees (it is much easier to see branches that need to be cut back before the leaves sprout).  Oak, ash, birch, maple, linden, walnut, and fruit trees are on this list.  Beware, some of these trees will release sap when cut this time of year.
  • shrubs that do NOT flower in spring.  Leave the pruning of lilacs, forsythia, etc until right AFTER they bloom.  The shrubs you can prune now include hydrangeas, potentilla,  spirea, (with the exception of bridal wreath variety) smoke tree, butterfly bush, ninebarks, false spirea, and weigela to name a few.
  • shrubs grown for their foliage only (burning bush, willows, boxwood, euonymus, cedars, dogwoods, barberry, junipers, yews, etc)
  • roses, except for the climbing variety.  Cut back to 1/4 inch above an outward-facing bud/leaf node, slanting the cut at a 45-degree angle, away from the bud/leaf node. (see picture below)
  • vines, (except those that flower early, like clematis) especially vigorous growers, can be cut back to 5 feet from the ground.  My golden hops falls into this category.  Left unpruned, it will take over my gardens, in one season.
  • ornamental grasses (cut back to 4 inches from the ground)
  • stalky perennials (these should snap off easily at ground level) like coneflowers, daisies,
  • perennials that have died back to the ground, leaving mushy mounds, can be tidied up now.  Hostas are an example.  I cut my hostas back in the fall because I can’t handle the mushiness in the spring.

Other Garden Chores to do Early

There are several other garden chores you can get done early, as soon as spring fever hits…

  • edging can be done as soon as the ground is thawed enough to get the edger in. The same applies to making your garden larger or changing its shape.
  • perennials can be dug up, divided, and/or moved as soon as the ground thaws too.
  • add compost or composted manure around your plants.
  • take cuttings from any shrubs you have pruned.  Dip the end into rooting hormone and put the cutting into a pot of soil.  I make hundreds of new plants this way each year.  They take a few years to reach maturity, but it does work.
  • clean out and disinfect any pots you emptied in the fall that you plan to reuse this season.
  • start annuals or perennial seeds indoors. My granddaughter loves to plant them and watch them grow.
  • clean out birdhouses and replace damaged ones
  • rake your lawn, hard, but wait until it is no longer soft and soggy.
  • treat your lawn with weed & feed, preemergent crabgrass treatment, or grass seed.  You cannot treat for weeds and spread seed at the same time.  If you treat for weeds now, wait six weeks before adding seed.  Fescue is best in our area, grubs don’t like the roots.
  • powerwash verandas, decks, fences, patios, patio furniture, and any other surfaces that get dirty/moldy over the winter.
  • leave the debris in the gardens though, as bees and other beneficial critters are still hiding there.

As New Growth Appears

Some plants, like most varieties of clematis vines, should only be cut back (to 4 inches) when new growth appears.  This happens sometime after the dormant stage and before the last frost date.

After the Last Frost

Some garden chores must wait until the chance of frost is gone.  I rely on the blooming of my forsythia to tell me when it’s time.  Mother Nature is amazing and the forsythias haven’t steered me wrong yet.  Here is a list of garden chores that should wait…

  • pruning climbing roses.  Cut lateral (side shoots emerging from the main stem) shoots back to two buds from the main stem.  As above, angle your cuts. As the lateral shoots grow, tuck them into their trellis (or whatever they are growing against) horizontally.  They produce more blooms that way.
  • trim old growth from late bloomers like hibiscus only when new growth appears.  Every year I worry mine did not make it through the winter, then bang, they show up, just as I’m about to give up on them and pull them out.  My advice?  If you think yours has croaked, wait a week.

So, if spring fever has hit you (as it has me) get out into your yard and garden to get a start on things. Start with pruning trees and shrubs on the list above.

Just don’t forget to do your stretches first!  Your muscles will thank you.

feature (top) image credit to Pixabay

Habs Fans Boo Stutzle in Ottawa

Habs fans

I’m wondering why Habs fans felt the need to be so disrespectful and tacky when playing the Senators in Ottawa last night.

The loud booing by the considerable number of Habs fans every time Senator’s superstar Tim Stutzle touched the puck was annoying and disrespectful. The booing was a result of Habs’ Brendan Gallagher’s comments after the last time the two teams met. Basically, Gallagher alleged that Stutzle fakes injuries to draw penalties. Ironically, I saw a statistic today that showed Gallagher and Stutzle have the same number of diving/embellishment penalties, meaning Gallagher’s criticism is the pot calling the kettle black, so to speak.

The penalty in question was a dirty, potentially career-ending knee-on-knee hit delivered by Nick Suzuki. Stutzle did lie on the ice after the hit but recovered sufficiently to continue his shift. He did miss two subsequent games due to the injury though. Who remembers way back at the beginning of Sidney Crosby’s illustrious NHL career when Don Cherry ragged on Crosby for his “turtle” reaction that drew penalties? I do, I bet Crosby does too. He appeared to learn from that criticism; perhaps Stutzle will learn something from Gallagher’s comment and the booing fans. Stutzle’s obvious talent will draw enough hits from frustrated opposing players, he does not want to encourage more.

Ottawa began last night’s game with a touching (and yes, respectful) tribute to the late Guy Lafleur, a hockey legend that led Montreal to most of their Stanley cups. Lafleur never played for the Ottawa Senators, the gesture was to show respect for a Habs hero. To top it off, Senators goalie Anton Forsberg stopped 44 shots on net last night to lead his team to a (nother) win against Montreal.

Habs fans tacky and disrespectful in loss to Senators

Back to the previous game…Suzuki apologized for the hit the next time he met Stutzle in the faceoff circle. Well before Gallagher’s rant and the Senator’s victory.

Now that’s classy on Suzuki’s part.

Habs fans could learn something from both examples of respect and sportsmanship. And lose the tackiness.