December 1, 2014, Toronto – A recent poll has found that Canadians overwhelmingly support energy-from-waste. The Canadian energy-from-waste (EFW) market has shown robust potential over the past eight years, growing by 200 per cent, from just four operating plants in 2006 to twelve facilities in an advanced stage of approval or construction by summer 2014.
Moreover, 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.
This progressive approach to waste management and local energy generation makes Canada a world leader. Of course, there are not as many installations as Europe (300+) or the US (80+), but the growth curve is notably more dynamic. Commissioned by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, and undertaken by Nielsen in April 2014, the poll included 1,044 respondents from across the country, with a +/- 3.0% margin of error 19 times out of 20.
The poll clearly shows that two thirds (66%) of Canadians have a favourable impression of EFW technologies. Across the EFW technologies, gasification and feedstock recycling received most positive support at 60%, followed by solid recovery fuel (59%). Even mass burn combustion achieved 50% support. Moreover, EFW as an energy source merits a higher overall impression than other power sources.
Seven-in-ten (69%) said they had a warm or favourable impression of EFW, while natural gas trailed at 59%, with oil at 37%, nuclear at 34%, and coal at just 19%. Only solar (90%) and wind (75%) ranked higher. When it comes to feedstock, an overwhelming 89% of Canadians 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% in Quebec, rising to 87% in BC, 88% in Alberta, 90% in Ontario, 92% in Atlantic Canada, and 94% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. “These polling results help us to understand the perceptions of the Canadian public when it comes to managing unrecyclable plastics,” states Krista Friesen, Vice President of Sustainability at CPIA. “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.”
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% among the 65+ set to 94% among those aged 55-64. Eighty-nine percent (89%) 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% support among men and 91% among women.
Canadians also understand that these strong opinions come with consequences. Sixty-three percent (63%) of respondents indicated they would support the use of EFW in their immediate community, which shows considerable commitment to the technology. served.