Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission

FundyRegion_821306754
Landfill as a Resource

Since 1997, the New Brunswick based Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission has lived by a three pronged rule.

“When I was brought on four years ago, the main goal was to increase the landfill life and its self sustainability,” said General Manager Marc MacLeod. “And at the same time, ensure that we are a great environmental partner for our host communities. By viewing the landfill as a resource, these three basic goals can be achieved.”

Self sustainability

Like many start-up organizations, the first few years were lean, so to speak, with funding and loans needed to both finance and grow the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission. Now that the foundation has been established, MacLeod continues to maintain the company’s financial prudence.

“In the initial years of the opening we had to take out loans to pay for the structure. Since then, we’ve been paying down those loans without borrowing anymore—that’s the plan, not to borrow anymore in the future unless we can get other revenues to offset those borrowings,” said MacLeod, emphasizing that tip costs will not be increased even while services are expanded.

“Our primary focus is on how we spend our money and how our monies are held coming in. We’re not-for-profit; our main source of revenue is through the tipping fee,” said MacLeod. “To continually add new programs and maintain or lower the tipping fee, we’ve put cost measures in place to improve the system. As well, we’ve begun to look for other opportunities—we are always keeping in mind that the landfill is a resource.”

Regionalized as one of six landfills in New Brunswick, and legislated by the provincial government, Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission represents New Brunswick’s Fundy Region, which includes the City of Saint John and five other communities along with the surrounding local service districts.

“Our job is to provide the best resource possible to those communities,” added MacLeod. “I like to say to people that I don’t have a boss, but I do. I have councilors appointed in each community that I meet with every month to hammer away. Not to say we haven’t had challenges, but so far it has mostly been good things.”

On the new revenue side, Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission has recently installed a new electrical system running off methane gas from the landfill, which will be able to produce enough electricity to power the facility as well as sending some to Saint John’s power grid. This landfill to energy project was funded in part by the Climate Action Fund—about a $4 million project—as well as some of the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission’s own funding. Not only has the project developed as a new source for revenue, but it has also been a job creator, something appreciated following the global economic downturn.

Increased landfill life & the environment

Waste diversion ensures the life of the landfill is preserved. Over the past year, the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission has expanded its recycling program when a new material recovery facility was implemented on site. All the collecting and processing of recyclables is done by the Commission. “We have a comprehensive recycling program. Residents can recycle all their cardboard, paper, boxboard, plastic containers, bags, milk cartons and metal cans.”

“We also do composting here, which, in effect, is our flagship program because it’s the single largest source of diversion you can have from solid waste,” said MacLeod. “The finished compost meets Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Grade A standard, so it can be used in all types of gardens and landscaping. This year, we did our first urban renewal project using our compost. We went to the inner city and created a new vegetable garden in an empty gravelly lot.

“We partnered with the Salvation Army who weeds and maintains the garden. It was cool and now the Salvation Army residents are eating fresh vegetables grown in our rich finished compost. Having this local garden neatly demonstrates how composting completes the recycling loop for food.”

The compost program which keeps organics out of the landfill, along with the Landfill Gas Utilization Project makes the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission one the largest greenhouse gas reducers when it comes to landfills.

“Methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas, is created when organics breakdown without oxygen. Our compost program ensures methane isn’t created in the first place, and the Landfill Gas Utilization project utilizes the remaining methane to create energy.”

MacLeod added that the Commission is “hoping to have both on a carbon credit system to generate further revenue”.

Community commitment

“We’ve gone from being the biggest enemy in the community to being someone that is being accepted. We’re here and we’re trying to make the best of it,” said MacLeod, humbly. “Next year we’ll be donating our one millionth dollar to community enhancement. We basically donate about $80,000 a year to the community to fund special projects.”

In summing up the project’s structural goals, MacLeod states, “We take those three things—improving landfill life, self sustainability and being a great environmental partner—and we change our mentality to make a landfill a resource for the communities and stakeholders involved. That is our guiding mantra.”  

For more information, Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission can be reached by telephone at (506) 738-1212 and online at www.FundyRecycles.com.

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