Waste & Recycling


Canadians eh-OK with energy-from-waste trend

The trend toward EFW technologies is a national phenomenon, with a range of plants and equipment under consideration from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island


Two thirds of Canadians have a favourable impression of energy-from-waste (EFW) technologies, a new poll commissioned by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association has found.

The EFW market has shown robust potential over the past eight years, growing by 200 per cent from just four operating plants in 2006 to 12 facilities in an advanced stage of approval or construction by summer 2014.

The spring 2014 poll helps paint a fuller picture of how Canadians are feeling about the expansion of the EFW industry.

“These polling results help us to understand the perceptions of the Canadian public when it comes to managing unrecyclable plastics” states Krista Friesen, VP of sustainability at the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. “While we are very committed to building the infrastructure to collect and recycle all types of plastics, we know there is a certain percentage of the material that is unrecyclable due to contamination or lack of mechanical technology. For those materials, we believe that alternative technologies which allow for energy recovery have an important role to play in Canada’s waste hierarchy.”

Across the EFW technologies, gasification and feedstock recycling received the most positive support from the more than 1,000 poll respondents, at 60 per cent, followed by solid recovery fuel at 59 per cent. Even mass burn combustion achieved 50 per cent support. Moreover, EFW as an energy source merits a higher overall impression than other power sources. Seven in 10 (or 69 per cent) said they had a warm or favourable impression of EFW, while natural gas trailed at 59 per cent, with oil at 37 per cent, nuclear at 34 per cent, and coal at just 19 per cent. Only solar at 90 per cent and wind at 75 per cent ranked higher.

The trend toward EFW technologies is a national phenomenon, with a range of plants and equipment under consideration from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island. The trend continues independent of size, with investigations underway in communities as diverse as Port Hope, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia.

There are not as many installations as Europe (300+) or the U.S. (80+), but the growth curve is notably more dynamic.

Picture-152When it comes to feedstock, an overwhelming 89 per cent of the Canadians polled prefer that non-recyclable plastics go to an EFW facility rather than landfill. This support holds steady across both geography, ranging from a “low” of 85 per cent in Quebec, rising to 87 per cent in BC, 88 per cent in Alberta, 90 per cent in Ontario, 92 per cent in Atlantic Canada, and 94 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Treating non-recyclable plastics in an EFW plant as opposed to going to a landfill has solid support in all age groups, ranging from a “low” of 86 per cent among the 65+ set to 94 per cent among those aged 55-64. Eighty-nine percent (89 per cent) of young people (ages 18-34) see EFW as a preferred option.

Additionally, there is solid support for EFW from both sexes. Women are more likely than men to say they would prefer non-recyclable plastics go to an EFW facility, with 86 per cent support among men and 91 per cent among women.

Canadians also understand that these strong opinions come with consequences. Sixty-three per cent of respondents indicated they would support the use of EFW in their immediate community, which shows considerable commitment to the technology.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is the national voice of Canada’s plastics industry, representing the interests of processors, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and brand owners across the country.

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