City 'close' to long-term deal with Plasco

Garbage-to-energy technology proposal will be made public
David Reevely
Ottawa Citizen
Date published: 
Wed, 2011-11-16
A long-term deal to have Plasco Energy Group zap Ottawa's garbage into energy could be presented to city councillors as soon as December, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick reported Tuesday morning.

Kirkpatrick has been in onand-off talks with the local company, led by tech entrepreneur Rod Bryden, since 2008, he told city council's environment committee.

City council agreed to a pilot project with Plasco, which uses a technology called "plasma gasification" to break up garbage and turn it into electricity and a gravel-like product, in 2005. A demonstration plant has been built just outside the city's Trail Road landfill to develop Plasco's technology.

In 2008, city council told Kirkpatrick to monitor Plasco's work and, if the process worked, negotiate a long-term deal for Plasco to take large amounts of city garbage.

The negotiations went on hold for a long time while Plasco refined its technology and raised money from venture capitalists, but now that Plasco has been given a certificate of approval - essentially an operating licence - from the Ministry of the Environment and has plenty of investors, the outline of a contract has been set, Kirkpatrick said. He and Plasco are still working out the details, but "we're getting close," he said.

"In my opinion, what we have here in Ottawa is a technology that's on the verge of being commercialized," Kirkpatrick said. "We may have the first one."

He could have a proposal for council's approval next month.

"If it takes longer, it takes longer," Kirkpatrick added.

He promised the proposed contract and a report explaining it will be released a week before the environment committee deals with it, so residents will have as much time as possible to examine it. There will also be a technical briefing session.

Many councillors on the environment committee sounded pleased that the contract is coming along as well as it is, but environmentalists spoke to the committee to warn that a deal with Plasco isn't necessary.

"All the technology you need is between your hand and your forearm," said Rod Muir, a waste campaigner for the Sierra Club of Canada. "It's called your wrist."

With rigorous waste-diversion into blue boxes, green bins, and return programs, it's easy to get diversion rates of up to 90 per cent, he said.

Since the city added more plastics to the acceptable list, the city has diverted about 44 per cent of its waste from landfills, the committee heard.


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