Nova Scotia under fire after approving tire-burning pilot project in Brookfield
Nova Scotia is shifting from recycling tires to burning them, prompting anger from environmental groups and a company that has invested $5 million to find fresh uses for the scrap rubber.
The province announced Thursday it’s going to pay LaFarge Canada about $105 per tonne - up to about $2,100 daily - in a one-year pilot project that will burn the tires to make cement in the company’s Brookfield plant.
Mike Chassie, the vice-president of C and D Recycling, said his Halifax firm is losing a third of its supply of about one million tires annually.
He says over time that could devastate an industry dedicated to turning the rubber into construction fill.
“This is hugely disappointing for the entire recycling industry in Nova Scotia. This will directly affect the tire recycling industry and could kill it,” he said in an interview.
The regulatory approval of the pilot project was announced by Iain Rankin, the Liberal minister of the environment, who defended it as a good way to reduce the use of coal at the factory about 14 kilometres south of Truro.
“It’s diversion. It’s energy recovery. The company is using it as a replacement for coal they’re currently using. You’ll see a reduction in carbon emissions,” he said.
Divert NS, the agency that chooses companies for waste diversion, offered an emailed statement saying it remained “proud of Nova Scotia’s culture of recycling.”
It said burning tires is an accepted technology around the world, and noted that it has to pay Chassie’s firm about $200 per metric tonne - close to double the burning fee.
Mark Butler, the director of the Ecology Action Centre, said he was baffled by the province’s approval of the project.
He said there are few environmental principles more basic than the one that recycling should be preferred over incinerating plastic or rubber.
In addition, he said if the tires were instead used under roads or other fill, they have the potential to be re-used again decades from now.
“I’m dumbfounded. Usually we’re told we have to do something because there are jobs. This time I thought we had jobs on our side, we had science on our side,” he said.
“Yet the government seems to choose the interests of a large corporation over some Nova Scotia-based businesses ... and our concerns.”
When Nova Scotians purchase tires, they pay an environmental fee of $4.50 for a regular new tire, while truck tires have a fee of $13.50.
Tires go up conveyer heading for burning at the Lafarge Canada plant where the company plans to use discarded tires to fuel its kiln in Brookfield, N.S.