The Resort Municipality of Whistler currently uses biodiesel to fuel the municipal fleet, which is purchased from Canada-based 4Refuel. As well, the Whistler and Valley Express uses biodiesel that is sourced by B.C. Transit.
Mayor Ken Melamed says that the decision to use biofuels was greeted at the time as the most sustainable solution for the environment, but he believes the decision should be reviewed in light of the food crisis.
“When the biofuel movement started it was thought to be a panacea for helping us move away from fossil fuels, and we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t test it properly and see where it was going to lead in terms of these other effects,” he said. “My assumption is that we will test the source.”
Melamed says it’s important to know how Whistler’s biodiesel is produced, and whether it’s manufactured from waste products or from feedstock, and whether it meets the four system conditions of The Natural Step sustainability framework.
“Biofuels is a broad term for a wide spectrum of fuels… and clearly not all biofuels are equal,” he said. “In Sweden I know they make biofuels with wood waste rather than diverting food and feed products, so they’re completing a loop in the sense that they’re turning waste into a viable product. In B.C. we haven’t moved in that direction yet, although it’s certainly possible.
“The most interesting thing to come out of this is that maybe there isn’t a panacea or silver bullet readily available, and that we need to look at real reductions in fuel use instead of ways to continue to increase our current levels of consumption and not feel guilty about it.”
Pique contacted a representative for 4Refuel for comment, but had not heard a response at press time.