Lafarge seeking approval to use some plastic waste as alternative fuel source

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TRURO – Lafarge cement plant is moving ahead with an attempt to use some plastic waste instead of coal at its Brookfield-based plant.

The Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield. File photo

Scarth MacDonnell, plant manager, appeared before Colchester County council on Thursday night to inform the municipality of the plant’s intent to use plastic waste as “low carbon fuel.”

“We think we found a solution” to the “very real problem” of plastics that build up in landfills.

“We hope to get 30 per cent substitution of coal,” said MacDonnell, adding the “emissions are safe and meet or exceed provincial and federal government standards.”

The business will submit an application to Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment for an industrial trial replacing coal with shredded plastics. It will also host an open house July 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. for people who want to learn more about and talk about the idea, which would also “help with the long-term sustainability” of Lafarge, said MacDonnell.

He also said if the government gave permission to the concept, it

“will produce locals jobs in sorting, shredding and transporting” materials.

In his presentation to council, MacDonnell said buried plastic in landfills take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade and may leak toxic additives into the groundwater.

He added a study by the province’s Department of Natural Resources indicates there is 79,000 tons of plastic going into landfills a year in this province.

The presentation also said a recent study by Dalhousie University states using plastics reduces carbon dioxide emissions up to 34 per cent and other greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by as much as 98 per cent.

Council reiterated that potential approval would not come from the municipality but other government departments.

“I appreciate your transparency,” by reporting to council, said Coun. Doug MacInnes.

Mayor Bob Taylor wished luck to MacDonnell on the initiative. No one on council voiced opposition to the idea.

Twitter: tdnMonique


Organizations: Colchester County council, Department of Environment, Department of Natural Resources Dalhousie University

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Enviro Patrol
    June 27, 2014 - 20:31

    .....LAFARGE....if it met provincial and federal guidelines for emissions, you would not need to apply for another Pilot project...would you! There is technology that can "melt" plastic to "plasma gases" and then recombine the components to hydrogen or hydrocarbons....but burning plastic in at the Lafarge plant will release toxic emissions that will accumulate in the local environment...we have better technology and we the people should demand the Liberal government and Delorey say NO to this....the one time disposal of existing Fracking fluids was a solution....Lafarge got an inch with eyes on taking a mile....this is not clean or green...despite the SPINNY radio ads!

  • John
    June 27, 2014 - 05:46

    How can burning plastics reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 34 per cent?

    • Scarth MacDonnell, Lafarge Brookfield
      June 28, 2014 - 09:21

      Hi John Please visit for more information on how plastics will reduce our emissions. We'd love to hear more of your questions and do our best to respond! Please don't hesitate to contact me directly at scarth . macdonnell @ lafarge . com