“It’s an ambitious project," Michèle Kunzler, cabinet minister responsible for energy and the environment, told local media.
The current plant at Cheneviers, west of the city of Geneva, was originally built in 1966 and progressively upgraded over 35 years to the point where it could handle 350,000 tonnes of rubbish annually.
However, this is far beyond what the canton of Geneva needs, with increased recycling reducing the amount of garbage being sent to the plant, which as a result cannot operate at optimum capacity.
The new plant is to be built next to the existing one although its footprint will be about half the size and with a capacity to handle 160,000 to 180,000 tonnes of trash annually, the ATS news agency reported.
Planning for the project takes into account a planned increase in the canton of Geneva’s population (currently around 470,000) but also assumes an increase in the recycling of refuse to 60 percent from the current 45 percent, the newspaper said.
The new plant is to be financed by SIG (Services industriels de Genève), the publicly-owned utility.
Although it will be smaller than the existing one it will be more efficient in producing energy, generating heating for 80,000 homes and electricity for an additional 40,000.
Alain Peyrot, SIG’s CEO, told reporters the new plant will also require far fewer staff — 50, down from the current 107.
In the interim, municipalities will have to temporarily pay more for the elimination of the garbage they collect, ATS reported.
Rates have remained unchanged since 1998, with the result being that SIG’s garbage incineration activities are currently running a monthly deficit of one million francs a year, the news agency said.
Barges using the Rhone River will continue to deliver garbage to the new plant, a method transport unique in Switzerland, (Cheneviers is located next to the river) although new vessels are envisaged.
The Cheneviers plant is one of 29 garbage incineration plants in Switzerland.