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SAEWA update sparks recycling debate

Posted on August 21, 2015 by Vauxhall Advance

By J.W. Schnarr
Vauxhall Advance

A Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association update sparked a discussion on how the town could save money by diverting recyclables from the waste stream.

During their regular meeting on July 20, council was provided with information regarding the Collaborative Governance Framework currently being developed by SAEWA.

SAEWA is a coalition of 72 municipal entities and waste management jurisdictions in southern Alberta, who, according to their website, are “committed to research and implementation of energy recovery from non-recyclable waste materials to reduce long-term reliance on landfills.” The group was established in 2009.

As of 2015, all members of the Taber and District Regional Waste Management Authority have opted out of the organization. Common complaints among the different municipalities were that the authority is disorganized, lacks the support of southern Alberta cities, and that development of the project has been slow-moving.

There have also been concerns that the costs involved in shipping waste could be prohibitive if the structure was built out of the area.

“Everybody within the M.D. was happy to pull the plug on it,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips. “The other groups participating in our regional waste authority, all of them, believe they wanted no more to do with SAEWA.

“So apparently SAEWA is moving on, but without anyone from this area,” he added.

Mayor Margaret Plumtree said she had spoken with representatives from other municipalities in the area, and their major concerns were also the concerns shared by Vauxhall council.

“It’s not going to be built down in our area, and it’s going to cost us a fortune to ship it,” she said.

“They never had one area where they stated it would be,” said English.

“I haven’t heard anything about a destination picked yet,” agreed Plumtree. “But it’s not going to be in the south area.”

During discussion, Phillips said the town should be looking at diverting recyclables from the waste stream in an effort to save money.

“That would save us a great deal of money on our waste management,” he said.

“Rather than looking at burning everything.”

Phillips added the concept of burning waste to produce energy would be acceptable if it was available, but noted recycling is something the town could accomplish.

“If we could divert more of the cardboard, and the tin cans, and the glass, and the plastics out of the garbage, and into the recycling, we’re already paying for the recycling agreement, but we’re not taking full advantage of it as a community.”

He added the old garbage cans people were using for their trash before the implementation of the bin system could find new life as a place for residents to store their recyclables.

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