A new garbage incinerator is the best solution to deal with the Lower Mainland's growing garbage problem, according to Metro Vancouver officials.

Marvin Hunt, the chair of the Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee said at a gathering of municipal officials today that the modern incinerator is an environmentally friendly way of disposing of as much as 30 per cent of the region's trash.

And on top of that it allows the public body to use the incinerator to generate electricity - and cash, he said.

"A ton of municipal solid waste is equivalent to a barrel of oil," said Hunt. "We're burying millions of dollars of energy, and that doesn't make sense."

The Lower Mainland's garbage woes will only increase - the landfill in Cache Creek will be full by 2010, and we could be exporting our garbage to the United States.

A report commissioned by the region examined eight possible options to deal with the problem, including building a local incinerator, building an incinerator outside the region, and building a mechanical biological treatment plant.

Studies say next-generation plans are incredibly clean. That's why Europeans are building the plants in the hearts of their cities, like in downtown Paris and Vienna.

The Fraser Valley is wary of being on the receiving end of more pollution, said Abbotsford Mayor George Peary.

"Air quality is the number one concern for the Fraser Valley," he said.

But Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the existing incinerator in Burnaby didn't pollute very much.

"We've got one in our backyard and it hasn't had any detrimental effect and provides a real benefit," he said. "We need to listen to the science."

Maple Ridge Councilor Craig Speirs said he thinks we need to focus more on reducing and recycling.

"The big white waste energy facility allows you to forget your responsibilities," he said. "I think we have to do better."

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward