Guelph Waste Management Coalition Inc

Chris Seto, Mercury staff  Wed Oct 03 2012

GUELPH — The City of Guelph is hunting for more waste materials to process at its recycling facility and has expanded its search to south of the border.

Guelph’s Materials Recovery Facility was permitted to process recyclable material from throughout Ontario when it began operations in 2003. Recently, however, a newly built 100,000-tonne capacity facility in Cambridge has diverted much of the materials from getting to the Guelph plant.

The city recently submitted an application to the Ministry of the Environment requesting permission to take in recyclable material from municipalities in New York and Michigan to fill the void.

Residents living near the Guelph facility on Dunlop Drive received a notification in their mailboxes on Tuesday, informing them of the city’s proposal.

The application to the ministry involves making an amendment to the facility’s current agreement that stipulates which areas it is allowed to collect waste materials from.

“There is only so much recyclable materials in Ontario,” Dean Wyman, the city’s general manager of solid waste resources, said Wednesday. “Competition for that material is fairly fierce.”

Wyman said turning to municipalities in the United States is “just business contingency planning.” With the new Waste Management Inc. plant up and running in Cambridge, he said the city is not yet sure how much material will be redirected there instead of coming to the Guelph facility.

“Just a normal course of business — if you lose a client, we have to go source another client, and we may have found tonnage from New York state,” he said.

Ken Spira, who lives near the facility and is president of Guelph Waste Management Coalition Inc., said taking in materials from outside of the city is a bad idea.

“It does obviously bother me and I think it should bother most of the residents of Guelph that we’re even importing anybody’s waste from outside of the city,” he said Wednesday.

Spira said city staff is not being fair to the taxpayers by bringing the application to the Ministry instead of putting it before city council.

“The process, giving staff the freedom to make amendments to that facility without going through council, is wrong.”

He also said the idea of bringing in waste from the United States goes against the waste diversion principles set out by the Ministry of Environment. The Ministry seeks to reduce the waste we create, reuse the waste we create and recycle the waste we do not reuse.

“This waste didn’t come from us,” Spira said.

He said if the city starts bringing in materials from the United States, this will only add more waste to landfills from residual garbage that could be created.

Wyman said the city is currently waiting for the approval of the ministry before it can begin talks with the American municipalities to see how much waste might be brought to the Guelph facility.

Residents have been given until Oct. 12 to submit their concerns or objections in writing to the Ministry of the Environment, care of Tesfaye Gebrezghi, at 2 St. Clair Ave. W., Floor 12A, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1L5.