Last updated: October 12, 2023
In December 2022, the municipality deactivated the Front End Processor/Waste Stabilization Facility at the Otter Lake Waste Processing & Disposal Facility. Deactivation proceeded based on the acceptance of a Compliance Plan by Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) on November 30, 2022.
The key objective of the Compliance Plan is a long-term goal that there is no more than 10 percent Compostable Waste in the incoming residential waste stream. Compostable Waste includes food, paper/cardboard, and leaf/yard wastes that can be diverted to a compost or recycling facility.
Based on the completion of four waste audits in 2022/2023, currently Compostable Waste consists of 12.41% of the incoming residential waste stream. On September 20th, 2023, NSECC accepted the Municipality’s goal to meet the 10 percent Compostable Waste target over a 3-year period (by March 31, 2026).
To meet the March 31, 2026 goal of no more than 10 percent Composable Waste in the incoming residential waste stream, per the Compliance Plan, the municipality is undertaking a number of initiatives including:
- Food Isn’t Garbage: a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing food waste in garbage and proper disposal of organics. The campaign includes paid social media advertising, advertisements in newspapers, bus shelters and billboards as well as webinars. The campaign is also incorporated into regular What Goes Where Wednesdays posts on Halifax Recycles Facebook page. School presentations are also included in this campaign as well as media interviews. For more information please visit Food Isn't Garbage | Halifax
- Quarterly Waste Audits (~ Performance Audits): consist of collecting residential waste samples at Otter Lake from various locations across the municipality and sorting the waste into categories including for Compostable Waste. The audits are completed to establish and track the Compostable Waste %.
- Feedback Monitoring: based on the waste audits completed, poor performing areas of the municipality are identified. Solid Waste Education staff walk the collection route on a subsequent collection day and inspect garbage placed curbside. Where it is evident that the garbage has not been sorted properly, the Solid Waste Education staff issue rejection stickers and distribute information packages to the dwelling. Based on the first four waste audits completed, Solid Waste Resources Education staff have issued over 500 rejection stickers and provided 320 information packages.
- Curbside Enforcement: a new Refuse with Compostable Waste category has been added to garbage rejection stickers with emphasis for contracted haulers to inspect and reject garbage due to the presence of Compostable Waste. Since implementing in November 2022, there are approximately 100-200 occurrences per month where residential garbage has been rejected due to the presence of Compostable Waste.
- What does NSECC acceptance of the Compliance Plan mean?
With NSECC acceptance of the Compliance Plan on November 30, 2022, deactivation of the Otter Lake Front-End Processor and Waste Stabilization Facility (FEP/WSF) was permitted to proceed, which means pausing and maintaining the FEP/WSF operation, allowing it to be resumed at any point if required. The FEP/WSF was deactivated in December 2022.
- Does the municipality need to meet the 10 per cent target for compostable waste received in the waste stream for the FEP/WSF to be deactivated?
No. The municipality does not need to meet the 10 per cent target for the Front-End Processor and Waste Stabilization Facility (FEP/WSF) to be deactivated.
As part of the Updated Municipal Approval for Otter Lake, NSECC required the municipality to identify in the Compliance Plan measures to reach a performance target of no more than 10 per cent.
Based on the completion of four waste audits in 2022/2023, currently Compostable Waste consists of 12.41% of the incoming residential waste stream. NSECC has accepted the Municipality’s goal to meet the 10 percent Compostable Waste target over a 3-year period.
- Will deactivation of the FEP/WSF lead to an increase in odour, pests or litter near the facility? What monitoring will be done to ensure there is no impact?
In an FEP/WSF Closure Review report, Dillon Consulting concluded that there does not appear to be any significant benefit to the continued operations of the Front-End Processor and Waste Stabilization Facility (FEP/WSF). Further, there does not appear to be any increased risk to public health and the environment if the FEP/WSF operations are terminated.
Dillon Consulting concluded that there would be no anticipated off-site impacts, including impacts related to odour or pests.
Dillon Consulting found that there could be potential increased risks on-site related to litter and pests, however, that that these risks could be mitigated through using additional portable fencing for litter, as well falconry as enhanced bird control and baiting programs for rodents at the landfill.
It’s important to note that all current environmental monitoring will continue with no changes, including groundwater, surface water, and landfill gas monitoring and sampling
- Additional Information Regarding Deactivation of the Otter Lake Front End Processor/Waste Stabilization Facility (FEP/WSF)
Otter Lake was commissioned in 1999 and included the FEP/WSF.
The FEP consists of mechanical equipment that processes bagged garbage. The main function of the FEP is to separate and send organics containing waste to the WSF for biostabilization (treatment similar to composting) prior to landfilling, to mitigate landfill nuisance factors such as odours and attraction of birds.
The FEP/WSF was developed at a time when only approximately five per cent of waste materials were diverted from landfill disposal and prior to the implementation of the municipality’s green cart program that diverts food waste from landfill disposal. Today, the municipality is a national leader in diverting waste from landfill disposal. This includes a successful green cart program that recovers the majority of food waste and converts it into compost.
Given the change in composition of waste being landfilled since the late 1990s, as well the success of the municipality’s solid waste program, the municipality believes that the ‘deactivated’ FEP/WSF — paused and able to resume operations if required — with waste directly landfilled without pre-processing, similar to all other landfills in Nova Scotia, while continuing to operate Otter Lake in an environmentally sound manner with no impacts to the local community.
In 2013, Stantec completed a Waste Resource Strategy Update on behalf of the municipality and concluded that the municipality should deactivate the FEP/WSF. SNC Lavalin completed a peer review and concurred with Stantec’s findings. Dillon Consulting prepared a Closure Review report that found that the FEP/WSF operations could be deactivated with no adverse impacts on the local community and environment.
On July 20, 2021, Regional Council accepted staff recommendations, including to submit an application to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) to deactivate the FEP/WSF. View the staff report here. The application was submitted to NSECC on August 26, 2021.
Upon submission of the application to deactivate the FEP/WSF, NSECC requested that the municipality and site operator, Mirror Nova Scotia Inc., conduct public consultation for the residents of Timberlea, Lakeside, Beechville, and Prospect, located within a five-kilometer radius of the Otter Lake facility.
The consultation process ran from November 3 to December 6, 2021. While this public consultation was targeted to residents within five kilometres of the Otter Lake facility, all residents across the municipality were welcome to provide feedback.
A public consultation report was developed, outlining the results of the public feedback. The report was submitted to NSECC as part of the application requirement. See the Public Consultation Report here.
On March 22, 2022, NSECC issued an updated Municipal Approval for Otter Lake allowing the FEP/WSF to be deactivated, provided that the municipality and the Otter Lake Waste Processing and Disposal Facility Operator, Mirror Nova Scotia Ltd. (Mirror), submit to NSECC a Compliance Plan.
On June 29, 2022, the municipality and Mirror submitted a Compliance Plan to NSECC. The Compliance Plan addressed several requirements, including measures to capture compostable waste received in the incoming waste stream with a long-term goal – complete with compliance checks – to meet a performance target of no more than 10 per cent. Additionally, requirements related to removing recyclable white goods, bulky items and household special waste when “visible and can be safely removed” were addressed.
The Compliance Plan has been updated twice in response to comments received by NSECC on October 26, 2022, and November 21, 2022. NSECC ultimately accepted the Compliance Plan on November 30, 2022 allowing deactivation of the FEP/WSF to proceed.
- What is included in the Compliance Plan?
The Compliance Plan outlined how the municipality and the site operator, Mirror Nova Scotia Ltd, will strive to meet a performance target of no more than 10 per cent over a 3 year period of the composition of incoming residential waste consisting of Compostable Waste such as food waste, leaf and yard waste, paper and cardboard.
- Public Consultation - Report Only
- Appendix A - NSECC Information Request
- Appendix B - Public Consultation Notifications
- Appendix C1 - Survey Responses – Within 5km of FEP/WSF
- Appendix C2 - Survey Responses – Outside 5km of FEP/WSF
- Appendix C3 - Survey Responses – Emailed or Mailed Surveys
- Appendix D1 - Summary of Survey Responses – Within 5km of FEP/WSF
- Appendix D2 - Summary of Survey Responses – Outside 5km of FEP/WSF
- Appendix E - Social Media Comments
- Appendix F1 - Emailed Feedback
- Appendix F2 - Mailed-In Feedback