Ontario seeks energy from landfills

Toronto, Canada (GLOBE-Net) – Ontario has proposed amending an existing regulation that will make it mandatory for new, expanding and existing operating landfills larger than 1.5 million cubic metres to install a system to capture methane.

The proposal received support from the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA), landfill-gas capture firm Integrated Gas Recovery Services (IGRS), and non governmental organization Pollution Probe.

Methane from Ontario landfills accounts for about four per cent of total man-made greenhouse gas emissions in the province.

Landfill gas emissions can be controlled by installing a network of collection wells and directing the gas by fans to facilities for use of the gas, for example for the production of electricity or for use as fuel by a nearby industry, or for flaring (i.e. burning). Simply burning the methane to convert it to carbon dioxide reduces its global warming potential by about 95%. Use of the methane for energy purposes can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing other energy sources, such as natural gas or coal.

A number of larger closed or operating landfills in Ontario currently have landfill gas controls in place, and already collect and use or flare landfill gas. More are considering implementing the collection and use or flaring of landfill gas, but there remain a number of other larger landfills that should be taking steps to control landfill gas to reduce greenhouse gas and trace contaminant emissions, and to take advantage of energy generation opportunities, says the government.

Ontario already has regulations requiring mandatory landfill gas collection and controls. Ontario Regulation 232/98 came into effect in 1998 and requires new or expanding sites larger than 3 million cubic metres to collect and use or flare (i.e. burn) landfill gas.

Under the regulation, landfill owners are required to submit a report on the design of gas control facilities to the Ministry for approval. The gas controls are then implemented as approved by the Director. However, if the owner of a particular landfill can show that the nature and quantity of landfill gas generated at the site is not significant, the existing regulation allows the Director to determine that gas controls are not required for that site.

O. Reg. 232/98 does not apply to closed landfills, to landfills associated with forest products operations, or to operating landfills that are not being expanded.

In addition to the requirements under O. Reg. 232/98, landfills may also be required to implement gas controls on a site specific basis, to address for example air quality issues such as odour. Landfill owners may also voluntarily implement gas controls, subject to approval of the Director.

The Ministry is proposing to amend regulations under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) to require all operating, new or expanding landfills larger than 1.5 million cubic metres of waste capacity require landfill gas controls (collection and use or flaring).

New or expanding landfills larger than 1.5 million cubic metres capacity would be required to include plans for the design of gas controls in their proposals beginning the date the new regulation is finalized (i.e. filed). Operating landfills larger than 1.5 million cubic metres capacity would be required to submit plans for the design and operation of gas controls to the Director by January 1, 2009.

Operating landfills that already have gas controls in place would be required to submit a report demonstrating that their existing controls are sufficient. If existing controls are not sufficient, the operating landfill would be required to submit plans to upgrade the controls.

As in O. Reg. 232/98, a landfill owner would be allowed to submit, if appropriate, a report demonstrating that the characteristics of the site and the nature of the waste are such that the site would not generate significant quantities of landfill gas. The regulatory amendments would also indicate that the rate at which waste is deposited in the site is factor that can be considered.

As in O. Reg. 232/98, the mandatory gas control requirements would not apply to closed landfills or to landfills associated with forest products operations.

The proposal has been posted to the Environmental Registry at www.ontario.ca/environmentalregistry (#010-0968) for a 90-day comment period.

This proposed landfill gas initiative is part of the Ontario government’s plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change by six per cent by 2014, 15 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050.

For More Information: Government of Ontario

You can return to the main Market News page, or press the Back button on your browser.