U.S. Business Opportunity: Government Research Funding for waste-related R&D

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced over $79 million (USD) in funding for bioenergy research and development including biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. This funding supports DOE’s goal of providing consumers and businesses with a range of domestic energy options that are affordable, reliable, and secure.    

There are a number of topics areas for this funding related to waste management including the following:

  1. Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Wastes: Support academic research and educational programs that focus on strategies to produce bioenergy and bioproducts from urban and suburban waste feedstocks.
  2. Plastics in the Circular Carbon Economy: Develop biobased plastics with improved performance and recyclability and lower the cost and energy-intensity of recycling  existing plastics through enhanced degradation.
  3. Rethinking Anaerobic Digestion: Develop anaerobic processes or alternative strategies to enhance carbon conversion efficiency and lower costs of smaller scale wet waste systems.
  4. Reducing Water, Energy, and Emissions in Bioenergy: Identify biofuels or bioproducts technologies with the greatest potential for reducing water consumption, energy consumption, and/or emissions relative to existing conventional fuels or products.

For more information, read the full Funding Opportunity Announcement, visit the U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Exchange website.

Ontario Government’s Proposed E-Waste & Battery Regulations

The Government of Ontario is consulting on proposed regulations for specified waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and used batteries under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.
 
The new regulations will affect participants of the current Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program operated by Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES).
 
The Ontario government has directed OES to wind up its operations to support the transition of the current waste diversion program for electronics to a new system that makes producers environmentally accountable and financially responsible for their products at end-of-life.

The proposed regulations would require:

  • producers to establish free collection networks for consumers
  • producers to achieve resource recovery (i.e. reduction, reuse and recycling) targets
  • producers to provide promotion and education materials to increase consumer awareness
  • producers and service providers to register, report and keep records and meet other requirements

The regulations would also encourage producers to reduce waste associated with the regulated products they supply into the Ontario market.

Review the draft regulations and register for a consultation webinar.

The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority will be the regulator mandated by the Government of Ontario to enforce the requirements of the new WEEE and used batteries regulations once they take effect.

Ontario Electronic Stewardship will continue to operate the current program without disruption until the proposed regulations take effect.

Fun with Waste: Trash Sport

Combining fitness with waste collection is growing in popularity around the globe. In Japan, a sport called supo-gomi taikai involves teams competing to see who can collect as much litter as possible. The inventor of the sport, Kenichi Mamitsuka, would often pick up litter and, in order to make the activity more fun, tried to collect as much trash as possible without extending his exercise time.  He thought making it a sport would make it more enjoyable and set up an organization for the sport.

A typical game could involve any number of participants that meet at a public place. Teams of three to five persons are made and everyone starts at the same location. At the signal, participants race around a pre-set area and pick up trash as quickly as possible in the allotted time. Points are awarded on not just the weight of trash but other qualities. For example cigarette butts have a high point value.

Around 70 participants ranging in age from 6 to 78 were divided into teams of between three and five persons. Everyone started at the same point in a public park, and when signaled to begin they started collecting trash within a 1-kilometer radius of that point. When a player found a piece of trash they called out their discovery, which was not limited by size. In fact, smaller items are often valued more because points are rewarded not just for the weight of the garbage collected, but the type as well, the idea being that certain items, such as cigarette butts, have a higher priority. So just because a team ends up with the most volume of trash at the end of the allotted time, it doesn’t mean they will win.


Kenichi Mamitsuka’s sports organization has, to date, overseen 639 events nationwide and abroad comprising about 76,000 participants.

Where does my Coffee Pod Go? Emissions Impacts of Pod Recycling

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Written by Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D, Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University

I want to preface this article by saying that I do not have any of Nespresso’s actual sales, collection or logistics data. All information used in this modeling is based on publicly available sources – if anybody has access to better data, I would be happy to re-run the analysis.

Coffee pod waste has become a particularly contentious issue as of late. The ubiquity of the coffee pod, coupled with its apparent difficulties being managed at end of life, has forced pod producers to develop packaging that can be readily recycled or composted in existing waste management systems.

Nespresso has proven to be a pioneer in this space, developing a readily recyclable aluminum pod, and investing in a “take back” infrastructure that allows consumers to return used coffee pods back to Nespresso. It is truly a novel solution to a growing problem – aluminum is not only readily recyclable, but offers a significant environmental benefit when comparing recycled vs. virgin sources (According to EcoInvent, recycling one tonne of aluminum using an Ontario energy grid mix abates 10.1 tonnes of carbon).

So all is good with the world, and we should embrace Nespresso as our sustainable pod manufacturer of choice? Not so fast….

Where the university became interested in the issue is when learning about Nespresso’s “take back” program in partnership with Canada Post. As per: https://www.nespresso.com/ca/en/recycling-process-red-bag, households are provided a bag to store used Nespresso capsules. Once they have filled the bag (with approximately 30 capsules), households can return this bag to a Canada Post office, where it will be delivered to 1 of 13 recycling facilities across the country that are equipped to compost used coffee grounds and recycle the aluminum. A separate “take back” program is available for commercial customers who operate in office buildings and retail spaces.

Being the keen researchers that we are, we decided to put this program to the test. After 10 days of coffee consumption (averaging approximately 3 pods per day between two people), we found that the average used capsule (net of coffee grounds) weighed 5.7 grams, and a “full” drop off bag weighed a shade over 280 grams. Once the bag was full, this bag was dropped off at a Canada Post office – it wasn’t readily apparent which facility this bag would be shipped to (which turns out, is the million dollar question).

Based on the materials used in the capsule and the bag (aluminum and LDPE film respectively), we calculated that the emissions credit (attributable to recycling) equaled:

Emissions Credit Single Pod Recycling (Aluminum) 0.00005706 TCO2e Emissions Credit Collection Bag (LDPE Film) 0.000004896 TCO2e Emissions Credit Per Consumer Bag Return 0.001716606 TCO2e

This is actually a pretty compelling finding – for every full bag of capsules returned to Nespresso, the emissions savings attributable to recycling is 0.001716606 TCO2e . When we think about the number of pods sold into the Canadian market – estimated in the hundreds of millions per calendar year – the potential environmental benefit from coffee pod recycling is enormous…… until we factor in the transportation emissions for getting those pods back to Nespresso.

The emissions impacts of waste collection is a significant component when calculating the life cycle impact of a particular waste management option. For curbside recyclable and waste collection, a specially configured truck will go from house to house, and when full, return to the transfer station/depot to empty it’s material before redeploying to the road. The efficiency of this approach is in having a “critical mass” of material (within a specified geographical boundary), that only requires collection when sufficient waste has been generated.

Going back to our Nespresso example, the university shipped a 280g bag back to a recycling facility via Canada Post. Assuming that Canada Post uses a standard parcel delivery vehicle using petrol, 0.00012 TCO2e of carbon are emitted for every kilometer traveled (EcoInvent). Using the above value, if our bag of used pods traveled more than 15km, the emissions impacts of transport supersede the environmental benefit of recycling (0.0018TCO2E transport emissions vs. 0.001716606TCO2e recycling credit)

With that being said, it is not likely that our package of used coffee pods was the only thing in that Canada Post truck (transport emissions need to be distributed across all items shipped), but it raises the questions of “How many shipments of pods are we making?” and “Where are we shipping those pods to?”

While I do not have the sales data for Nespresso, I would safely say that at least 100 million Aluminum pods are sold to Canadian households every year. Given that each of the pre-paid shipping bags can store approximately 30 used pods, that is 3.3 million bags that ultimately need to be shipped back to Nespresso for recycling. That is potentially 3.3 million unique trips, across hundreds (and possibly thousands of kilometers) to recycle something that may be doing more harm to the environment than good. The environmental viability of the approach is entirely contingent on shipping a critical mass of materials, 300 kilometers or less.

I genuinely don’t know if this is the case. Maybe households stock pile their bags and send them back only once a month? Or maybe Canada Post has hundreds of consolidation points, and only ship the bags back to Nespresso once they have sufficient materials? The point of this post is to highlight that we have to “look beyond the headlines” and ask meaningful questions about how the products we use are actually managed at their end of life.

Nespresso should be applauded for finding a recyclable alternative and innovating in a way that moves us away from single use plastic pods. However, as both consumers and decision makers, we have to perform our due diligence when evaluating whether our actions (in this case, recycling) are achieving our intended objectives (preferable environmental outcomes).


About the Author

Calvin LAKHAN, Ph.D, is currently co-investigator of the “Waste Wiki” project at York University (with Dr. Mark Winfield), a research project devoted to advancing understanding of waste management research and policy in Canada. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Waterloo/Wilfrid Laurier University joint Geography program, and degrees in economics (BA) and environmental economics (MEs) from York University. His research interests and expertise center around evaluating the efficacy of municipal recycling initiatives and identifying determinants of consumer recycling behavior. Calvin has worked as both a policy planner for the MOECC and as a consultant on projects for Stewardship Ontario, Multi Material Stewardship Manitoba, and Ontario Electronic Stewardship. Calvin currently sits on the editorial board for Advances in Recycling and Waste Management, and as a reviewer for Waste Management, Resources Conservation and Recycling and Journal of Environmental Management

Sudbury Councillor’s Cash for Trash Plan

A municipal Councillor from the City of Greater Sudbury is offering an incentive of cash to persons that help clean up his ward. Under Michael Vagnini’s plan, he will pay one dollar of his own money for every 10 pieces of trash picked up in his ward.

Sudbury Councillor Michael Vagnini

There are several catches to his plan. First, the cash does not go directly to the individuals who participate in the program. The money will be donated to the local food bank. Second, the upper limit of the donation is $1,000.

The Cash-for-Trash plan isn’t Councillor Vagnini’s only financial compensation plan. In the winter, he was pushing for the City to establish an emergency pot compensation program.

For persons interested in actually receiving cash for trash, the most popular one and perhaps easiest is to trade in an end-of-life vehicle to a scrap car dealer. Depending on the vehicle, one can score anywhere from $100 to $600.

Lethbridge, Alberta may profit from Curbside Recycling

The City of Lethbridge, Alberta recently began a municipal curbside recycling program. Unlike many North American cities that were left in a bind after China refused their recyclables, Lethbridge has made sure that it has secure contracts with only Canadian and U.S. recyclers.

Lethbridge is located in southern Alberta and has a population of approximately 100,000. Lethbridge is southern Alberta’s commercial, distribution, financial and industrial centre,

The City wants to make the curbside recycling program a success. As such, it is focusing on quality control by providing on-going education and feedback to residents as to what is acceptable in the blue box. By limiting what can be put in the blue box, the City believes it will prevent the contamination and quality issues other municipalities are struggling with.

In Phase I of the curbside recycling program, the contamination rate in the blue box was less than 14%.  For city-wide roll out, the City will continue to focus on educating residents to only put clean, accepted material in their blue cart to maintain a low contamination rate.

As part of its public education campaign, the City created an on-line sorting game. Similar to popular video games, there are levels of acheivement

In an interview with Global News, Joel Sanchez, manager of waste and recycling with the City of Lethbridge said the start-up of the curbside recycling program has prompted companies to consider consider building recycling facilities in Alberta.

In conjunction with the curb-side recycling program, the City has built a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The MRF will process, sort and bale the collected recyclables in preparation for marketing the materials. The MRF will be operated with both hand sorting and machinery sorting equipment.

The MRF will be capable of processing 8 tonnes of recyclable material per hour. It is owned by the City of Lethbridge and operated by a private contractor.

MRF under construction in 2018 (source: City of Lethbridge website)

There are also local companies that are involved in the recycling program. There is a local broker that will take care of metals collected in the blue bins. Also, there is an Alberta processor will handle all plastics.

Currently cardboard represents over 55% of the materials recycled, markets for cardboard are in North America, and current prices are favorable to encourage the recycling of this material.

Plastics represent 10-15% of the materials and currently are being recycled in local markets in Alberta. The City has used some of the recycled plastic in plastic lumber materials in parking lots and parks across the city. Research and new opportunities are currently being explored in North America to increase the recycling opportunities for plastics.

The City plans to use glass recovered at the recycling stations for different city projects, including as a base for City pathways.

Prior to the start-up of the curbside recycling program, Lethbridge residents could drop of recyclables at one of three recycling depots.

A March 2019 poll of Lethbridge residents found that almost 70 percent supported the curbside recycling program. The survey was conducted by the Citizens Society Research Lab.

NGIF’s $1.5 Million Cleantech Competition

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The Natural Gas Innovation Fund™ (NGIF) recently announced a $1.5 million funding call to advance cleantech solutions in three strategic focus areas – energy efficiency; renewable gases (including renewable natural gas and hydrogen); and carbon capture – for natural gas distribution and end use industry in Canada.

NGIF is accepting submissions to its intake stage for funding requests to support new technologies and innovative approaches in the above three identified focus areas. We will make up to $300,000 in non-dilutive funding available per project in Canada, representing as much as 33 per cent of a project’s eligible expenses. The competition is open for small to medium enterprises and technology development start-ups in Canada and globally.

Interested applicants should download the Applicant’s Guide online and submit their investor deck at info@ngif.ca by June 17, 2019. More information on the Natural Gas Innovation Fund and how to apply can be found at www.ngif.ca.

The Natural Gas Innovation Fund™ (NGIF) was created by the Canadian Gas Association (CGA) to support the funding of cleantech innovation in the natural gas value chain. It seeks to fill a technology development gap in the sector and invest in innovation enabling natural gas solutions for current and emerging challenges facing Canada’s energy system.

The existing portfolio of companies that have received NFIG funding include iGen Technologies, CHAR TECH Solutions, and NextGrid.

Cities and countries aim to slash plastic waste within a decade

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Written by Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto and Dr. Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University

If all goes well, 2030 will be quite a special year.

Global and local community leaders from more than 170 countries have pledged to “significantly reduce” the amount of single-use plastic products by 2030. Success would result in significantly less plastic pollution entering our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Today, societies around the world have a love affair with disposable plastics. Just like some love stories, this one has an unhappy ending that results in plastic bags, straws and takeout containers strewn about the global environment.

As researchers who study the contamination and effects of plastic pollution on wildlife, it would be nice if by 2030 we no longer heard about plastics showing up in the stomachs of dead whales, littering the beaches of distant islands and contaminating tap water and seafood.

Plastic doesn’t belong on the beach. Shutterstock

It is time for some good news about the environment, including stories about how cities and countries are managing plastics and other waste materials in more sustainable ways, and how children will have cleaner beaches to play on.

No reason to wait

Scientists have known about plastic pollution in our oceans for more than four decades. It is pervasive in rivers, lakes and soils too. Plastic pollution knows no boundaries, with small bits of plastic found from the equator to the poles and even on the remote slopes of the French Pyrenees mountains.

Plastic waste damages ecosystems, smothers coral reefs and fills the bellies of sea life. In the absence of action, the amount of plastic waste produced globally is predicted to triple between 2015 and 2060, to between 155 and 265 million tonnes per year.

As a welcome response, global leaders have decided to act. At the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi in March, environment ministers from around the world signed a voluntary commitment to make measurable reductions in single-use plastic products, including straws, shopping bags and other low-value plastic items that are sent to landfill after being used once.

Similar goals to deal with plastic pollution have been introduced by municipal, provincial, federal and regional governments across the globe. Non-profit organizations and industry leaders are making efforts to tackle the problem of plastic pollution. For example, Ocean Conservancy is uniting citizens and organizations around the world in cleanups to meet their goal of an ocean free of plastics by 2030, and Unilever has pledged to use 100 per cent recyclable packaging by 2025.

Canada joins the movement

Canada introduced the Ocean Plastics Charter at the G7 summit in 2018, committing nations to work with industry to make all plastics reusable, recyclable or recoverable by 2030. That means sending no plastic waste to landfill.

Vancouver aims to be a zero-waste city by 2040. Although the city has reduced the mass of waste going to landfill by 23 per cent since 2008, it still has a long way to go.

Ontario also has its sights on being waste-free by developing a circular economy, which means keeping materials in use for as long as possible. The province aims to cut the amount of waste sent to landfills in half by 2030, a reduction of 4.5 million tonnes, through reuse and recycling.

To propel Ontario into action, Ian Arthur, the member of the Ontario provincial parliament for Kingston and the Islands introduced a private member’s bill in March to eliminate Ontario’s use of non-recyclable single-use plastic products such as straws, coffee cups and plastic cutlery, which ultimately end up in landfills. These plastics do not feed into a circular economy.

In addition, school children in Ontario are working towards collecting 10,000 signatures on petitions to ban single-use plastics in the province.

Canadians would like to see more action against plastic waste. According to a recent poll, 90 per cent of Canadians were either very concerned or somewhat concerned about the environmental impact of plastic waste, and 82 per cent thought government should do more to reduce plastic waste.

Bye bye plastic waste

Our research, and the research of others, has found that single-use plastic products litter our beaches and coastlines, small pieces of plastics contaminate our Great Lakes and the Arctic Ocean, and microplastics are present in our sport fish and drinking water.

Ambitious global, regional and local collaborations are sorely needed to truly realize these goals. It’s time to commit to ending the love affair with disposable plastics.

Individual action does work. Quench your need for caffeine by using a reusable mug. Hydrate with water from a durable and refillable bottle. Purchase groceries that come in containers that can be reused or recycled. Plan your kid’s birthday party and your work meetings without using disposable single-use plastics.

A decade of positive habits could lead to a future where plastic is no longer waste, but valued as a material that can be reused and recycled — shifting our current paradigm to a more sustainable one that lasts far beyond 2030.



This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

About the Authors

Dr. Chelsea Rochman is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto. Previously, she was a David H. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow at the Aquatic Health Program at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Rochman received her PhD in a joint program with San Diego State University and UC Davis in Ecology.

Dr. Diane Orihel is an Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University, Ontario. Dr. Orihel investigates human impacts on aquatic ecosystems through large-scale, multidisciplinary and collaborative research programs. She holds a B.Sc. (Honours) in Ecology and Environmental Biology (University of British Columbia), Masters in Natural Resource Management (University of Manitoba), a PhD in Ecology (University of Alberta). She was a Banting and Liber Ero postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, and now holds the position of Queen’s National Scholar in Aquatic Ecotoxicology in the Department of Biology and School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University.

Environmental Activist Organization oppose all forms for thermal treatment for waste

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Written by John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng., Editor

In a recent response to the Ontario Environment Ministry’s Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities: Discussion Draft, a coalition of seven environmental activist organization spelled out their opposition of thermal treatment in all its forms as a means for managing waste in Canada.

With respect to thermal treatment of waste, the letter reads:

In our view, all forms of thermal treatment (e.g. waste incineration, energy-from-waste (EFW) facilities, pyrolosis, plasma gasification, industrial burning of waste as “alternative fuel”, etc.) should not be considered as diversion measures. Instead, these kinds of projects are – and must remain closely regulated as – waste disposal activities under Ontario’s environmental laws.

The coalition of environmental activist organization that signed the letter are as follows: the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Citizens’ Network on Waste Management, the Grand River Environmental Network, the Toronto Environmental Alliance, Environment Hamilton, hej!support, and the Citizens Environment Alliance.

The opposition by these organization to all forms of thermal treatment of waste should be discouraging news to companies that have developed innovative thermal treatment technologies and advanced air pollution control technologies. It means that there will be continued pressure for more lengthy and costly permitting processes across the country.

The letter should also be discouraging to companies that utilize waste as feedstock in the production of recycled products. In the letter, the authors state that they reject alternative or streamlined environmental approvals process for proven technologies that recover value from waste. In the view of the authors, there is no “red tape” that needs to be cut when it comes to the environmental approval process.

Proponents and involved in the environmental approvals process in Ontario for innovative waste management technologies including waste-to-fuel, waste-to-products, and waste-to-energy often complain about the byzantine, expensive, and lengthy approvals process in Ontario compared to other North American jurisdictions.

As an environmental professional with over 25 years of experience working in Ontario, I see innovative environmental technologies that are being development to help with the waste management problems facing Canadians. I have also seen my share of bad actors and snake oil salesman that have hurt the environment industry.

I believe there is a need for environmental activist organizations and proponents of innovative waste technologies to become educated about each others concerns in an effort to bridge the divide that appears to exist to the environmental risks associated with various technologies.

Global Glass Recycling Market Forecast

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The glass recycling is a robust niche market that will be worth more than US$ 4.4 billion by 2025 according to a recent market study.

Based on revenue, clear cullet is likely to account for around 60% of the global recycled glass market in 2025. Clear cullet is manufactured generally from soda, beer and soft drink bottles, flat glass, as well as food packaging. The current recycling rates for glass bottles are between 50% to 80%, partly because of the significantly lower temperatures needed to melt recycled cullet compared to virgin cullet.

In 2018, the Global Glass Recycling market size was 2610 million US$ and it is expected to reach 4190 million US$ by the end of 2025, with a CAGR of 7.0% during 2019-2025.

The report on “Global Waste Recycling Services Market 2019” is a comprehensive accumulation of valuable and actionable insights. It provides an extensive assessment of the waste recycling services market, which embodies research on remarkable dynamics, such as key insights, market trends, opportunities, growth drivers, and challenges for the waste recycling services market. The report evaluates the size of the waste recycling services market in terms of value (USD Mn). The study focuses on leading players, supply chain trends, technological innovations, key developments, and future strategies.

It also offers accurate information to readers about the Global waste recycling services Market meant to help them in strategizing market moves based on the powerful insights about waste recycling services market.

The analysts at Market.us have analyzed the waste recycling services market segments, thereby, offering an explicit comparison between key market data, including the Y-O-Y growth, market share, revenue, and volume. The report also carries regional performance of waste recycling services market, dividing the market into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.