The expansion of the landfill in Sainte-Sophie, recommended by the BAPE

L’expansion du dépotoir de Sainte-Sophie est recommandée par le BAPE

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
Quebecers have generated 697 kilograms of waste per capita in 2018.

The government has to approve the expansion project of the landfill in Sainte-Sophie, but it should also launch an environmental assessment of the management of residual materials, concludes the BAPE in a report published Wednesday. The promoter of the expansion project to double the capacity of the site, adding 18 million tons of waste.

According to the findings of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), the project is ” justified “, since, without this, the municipalities of the Montreal metropolitan Community may not have access to a dump to store the waste produced on a daily basis by their citizens.

WM Quebec, a subsidiary of the american company Waste Management, requested authorization from the Quebec government to open a new area of its site for the landfill of waste for the period 2022-2040, since the areas currently exploited will be filled to their maximum capacity by the end of 2022, at an annual rate current of about one million tonnes of waste. The promoter wants to maintain the same pace of landfill, with annual one million tonnes of waste (approximately 3000 tons per day).

The authorization of the expansion project would extend, therefore, the operation of the site located in Sainte-Sophie, east of Saint-Jérôme. The site, which receives waste from the immediate area and the municipalities of the Montreal metropolitan Community since 1964, which already contains approximately 20 million tonnes of household waste, which means that we could double this amount over a period of 18 years.

More waste

It must be said that Quebecers are large producers of waste. “The amount of waste disposed has increased in Québec in recent years, given the stability of the disposal rate per capita and the increase of the population “, is also reminiscent of the BAPE in his report. According to data from Recyc-Québec, the Québécois have generated 697 kilograms of waste per capita in 2018, while the average was 685 kilograms in 2015.

The BAPE believes, however, that the amount of waste to be buried at the site of Sainte-Sophie could be reduced over the next few years, and this, ” if the measures for the diversion recently announced by the government of Québec, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal and the Ville de Montréal came true “.

The assessment agency therefore proposes to grant authorisation for five years to the proponent, even if the request for authorization 18 years of age. “This would adjust the quantity and volume the maximum allowed based on the progress made in the diversion of waste from disposal. “

Environmental assessment

Based on the comments of participants at the public hearing, the BAPE believes in addition that there is “a citizens’ interest, that the commission supports, for a strategic environmental assessment on waste management “. The commissioners recall, for example, that the last exercise of its kind in Québec dates back to 1996 and 1997.

There have also more tracks important to study to reduce the landfill, according to what was pointed out by participants in the hearings of the BAPE on the expansion project of the landfill in Sainte-Sophie.

According to the most recent data published by Recyc-Québec, barely 52 % of recyclable materials are sent ” for recycling “. In the case of organic material, which can be composted, the recovery rate was only 31 % in 2018. The action plan 2011-2015 of the québec Policy on residual materials management provided, however, that 60 % of the organic material biodegradable to be recycled, and this, as early as 2015. The” objective ” confessed the government — which was registered in the balance sheet 2015 program of Recyc-Québec, but who has disappeared from the balance sheet 2018 — was to ban, by 2020, the landfilling of putrescible organic waste.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The reduction of the landfill of waste is all the more necessary by the expansion of the landfill, such as that provided also the landfill of Lachenaie, results in environmental impact, concrete. In the case of the expansion project of the hagia Sophia, the promoter includes the deforestation of forest stands and the loss of 180 000 m2 of wetlands.

WM Quebec promises afforestation, but also clearing of wetlands destroyed. The BAPE stresses, however, in its report that the ministry of the Environment of Quebec has not demanded that the company present a “preliminary draft to offset the loss of wetlands” as a result of the completion of the expansion project.

A decrease of the landfill in Quebec would also reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly those in the form of methane, a gas that is in the “warming potential” 25 times higher than CO2. According to the most recent balance sheet to québec’s greenhouse gas emissions, the sector “waste” produced 5.8% of all emissions in the province in 2017, or 4.55 million tonnes of GHG emissions, a figure growing since 2013. This is equivalent to emissions annual average of 1.8 million cars.

In the case of the site of WM Quebec located in Sainte-Sophie, the operator has reported GHG emissions of 149 540 tonnes in 2018, according to data from the “Registry of greenhouse gas emissions,” the government of Quebec.

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