A study on the public perception of waste-to-energy facilities in Metro Vancouver
BACKGROUND: Metro Vancouver is proposing a second waste-to-energy (WTE) facility to be built within the regional district. WTE facilities are used to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill sites. With Metro Vancouver’s desire to become the Greenest City in the World by 2020, WTE facilities are one option to achieve this goal. The proposal is currently in its second phase, and is looking for an ideal location. However, there are debates over whether the use of WTE facilities is an ideal method of municipal waste disposal. The aim of this research project was to measure the public knowledge and opinion of WTE facilities across various demographics. METHODS: A survey regarding knowledge and opinion of WTE facilities was generated and distributed online via social media platforms. Microsoft Excel and NCSS software were used to analyze the data to determine statistical significance. RESULTS: There were a total of 111 respondents. Demographic information was analyzed against the respondent’s knowledge score of WTE facilities. There is no statistically significant difference between educational background, age group, or place of residence and attaining a particular knowledge score of WTE facilities (p=0.51, p=0.31, p=0.22 respectively). The results indicated a limited knowledge of WTE facilities in the general public, with a mean score of 3.6 out of a maximum of 5. 59% of respondents indicated that they felt neutral towards WTE facilities, while 24% believed they were the most desirable method of managing municipal waste, and 21% believed they were least desirable. CONCLUSION: Results suggests that WTE facilities are not well understood, and not enough knowledge has been provided to the public in order for them to formulate a consensus on supporting or rejecting the use of WTE facilities. In such cases, the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) can act as an educator to help the public make an informed decision on the effects of WTE facilities and the consequences of different methods of handling municipal solid waste.