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Research Funding Will Help N.L. Waste Management

As NL government is preparing an update on its provincial waste management strategy, Environment minister Dan Crummell was at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s St. John’s campus this morning applauding new spending on waste management research.

Crummell helped announce $345,000 over three years, available through the joint Harris Centre-Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) “waste management applied research fund.”

Of that total, $300,000 is coming from provincial Crown corporation MMSB and $45,000 comes from the Product Care Association, on behalf of the provincial “paint industry.”

About $300,000 flowed from the MMSB into the same fund in 2010, ultimately helping 17 research projects.

According to the minister of Environment, the funding ties to the government’s goal of diverting more waste from landfills. Although the research, he said, is about discoveries with the potential to drive progress in waste management and reduction into the future and address unique challenges, rather than deal with general management structures.

“Obviously we’ve got to find innovative ways to manage solid waste in this province. And we’ve got to partner with our research institutes, like Memorial University. We’ve got to work hand in hand with them. Newfoundland and Labrador, we do have unique challenges that are not the same as everywhere else,” he said.

“You know, most of our population is on this island. We need to manage our waste as best as possible here if we can and we’ve got to find innovative ways to do that.”

While minister of Municipal Affairs — the department leading the larger waste management strategy — Crummell described the changes in provincial waste management, in an August 2014 interview, as “the largest regionalization strategy we’ve ever had in this province.”

The megaplan was released in 2002, before revision and re-release in 2007 and focused on closing scattered dump sites, creating regional waste management boards, closing teepee incinerators, and ending the open burning of garbage, with the aim to reduce waste going into landfills by 50 per cent by 2020.

The original estimated cost to 2020 was $200 million. It has since been estimated at a $315.8 million by completion.

A spokesman for Municipal Affairs said a press release will be going out updating the waste management plan progress early next week, but minister Keith Hutchings would not be available for questions before that time.

Notably, the province has yet to speak to next steps for composting, following the detailed report received from Dillon Consulting in 2014. The report suggested the province’s targets for waste diversion could be attainable —  if large-scale composting is established.