Waste to energy technology has been backed as an ‘affordable’ way for municipalities to manage wastes and generate energy, with “almost no measurable effect on human health”, according to scientists and industry experts at the recent Energy Recovery Symposium in Toronto, Canada.

Waste to Energy Affordable & Safe Say Experts in Canada “Modern waste to energy recovery facilities that are designed and operated in accordance with current stringent regulations do not adversely impact human health or the environment,” asserted Sarah Foster a founding member of Maryland based scientific research and consulting firm, CPF Associates.

Foster highlighted a comprehensive review of many dozens of environmental and human health studies conducted over the past decade, which she said shows that recovering energy from waste is a safe form of waste management and power production.

“Energy recovery has almost no measurable effect on human health,” she added.

Delegates heard from Tracey Forrest, director at WISE, that advancements in energy recovery through rigorous evidence-based science are critical if the full potential of waste as a resource in a sustainable energy future is to be realised.

The symposium was hosted in partnership with the University of Waterloo, Columbia University of New York, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), the Canadian Energy-From-Waste Coalition (CEFWC), and the Ontario Environmental Industries Association (ONEIA).

Meanwhile, Jason Chee-Aloy, senior electricity market analyst and electricity policy consultant at energy market consultancy, Power Advisory, noted that by 2018 Ontario will need new generation sources.

“Energy recovery in the form of distributed generation may address some of this emerging supply challenge,” he said.

Indeed, Durham Region is currently building a new waste to energy plant that will come on-line in late 2014.

Others municipalities are actively investigating the potential of the technology to service their long-term needs, including Peel Region, Metro Vancouver, and the communities of southern Alberta.

According to Greg Lyle, owner of a national research and strategy firm, Innovative Research Group, public opinion polling shows considerable support for managing waste locally and generating power from residual material that would otherwise be disposed of in a landfill.

“Where waste meets energy is a critical point of policy convergence,” he said.
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