The company that owns the landfill in Washington where Whistler’s solid waste is disposed of, Rabanco, received a Sustainability Award last month for its gas-to-energy power plant that converts methane and leachate from the landfill into electricity.
Joe Casalini, director of sales for the Roosevelt Regional Landfill, said the company is excited about the recognition their facility has received from the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association and is proud of the site’s environmental record.
The power plant current generates 10 megawatts of power, with plans in place to expand the facility to generate a total 25 megawatts of power.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States has commended the plant as the only renewable source of power that actually removes pollution from the air.
The award comes almost two years into the three-year Rabanco-Whistler contract, which James Hallisey, manager of environmental projects for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, expects will be continued for at least a few more years.
“I think we will be forced to. I don’t think a year from now we are going to have any other options available to us. That might change, but right now it doesn’t look that way,” said Hallisey.
“I know Squamish is starting down the road of upgrading their landfill, so that we could be taking our garbage down there, but they are just starting now. So at the earliest I think it would be is two years from now before that would be happening,” he said. Hallisey added that eventually the municipality hopes to have a more local solution for its waste management.
He said Whistler currently ships approximately 17,000 tonnes of garbage to Washington each year via rail, adding that the volume is slightly down from a few years ago because Whistler has done a better job at recycling.
“So far this year we seem to be a little higher than we have been in the last little while. And maybe that is just due to more construction going on, I am not sure,” he said.
He added that with the Canadian dollar’s recent strength, shipping waste to Washington has become about 25 per cent cheaper than when the contract was initially set up.
The Rabanco-Whistler contract began in November 2005, in conjunction with the closing of the Whistler landfill.
Rabanco has been operating for 16 years and has been receiving waste from British Columbia for the past 10 years.
According to Casalini, at the current levels of waste the landfill receives, the Roosevelt Regional Landfill site is expected to be operational for at least 80 more years.