BERQ RNG signs funding agreement with Suske Capital Inc.

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BERQ RNG, an Ontario-based company in the renewable natural gas sector, recently signed a funding agreement with Suske Capital Inc.. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies collaborate in the development of renewable natural gas projects.

The worldwide market for biogas expected to reach $35 billion in the next 5 years. In North America, there are only 2,000 sites producing biogas, compared to over 10,000 sites in Europe. North America has substantial future potential in the renewable natural gas space, as biogas flaring is a significant source of GHG emissions, and an opportunity exists to capture and condition this valuable resource.

BERQ RNG is positioning itself to be an important niche player in the North American RNG market. The company will have the ability to finance, design, build, and operate RNG systems.

The President and Chief Development Officers of BERQ RNG, Bas Van Berkel, has 20 years experience in developing infrastructure and energy projects including being a founder of StormFisher Environmental Ltd. He has a M.Sc. in civil engineering and a MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.

Suske Capital Inc. is a Canadian boutique private equity firm that invests in real estate, finance, emerging technology, alternative energy and healthcare.  Suske’s Capital’s main business is the developing and operating senior housing. The key focus of Suske Capital is value creation and the company has developed a reputation for earning industry-leading returns for its co-investment partners. The company takes an active-ownership approach by investing its own time, money and expertise to grow its portfolio companies. 

 

Waste-to-Energy: where now and where next?

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Bettina Kamuk, Global Market Director, Waste to Energy at Ramboll

Waste-to-energy is the use of waste to generate energy, usually in the form of heat or electricity. In many ways it is the ultimate in renewable energy, because it recycles what we have already consumed in another form. It is, therefore, a key part of the growing ‘circular economy’.

The idea of the circular economy recognises that there is a limit to the possibilities of recycling. Even recycled goods wear out over time, and further recycling is often not possible. We therefore need a way to deal with the residual waste. We also need a way to deal with waste that is not currently recyclable or recycled. At present, worldwide most of it is sent to landfill. This not only uses valuable space, but also generates methane, a greenhouse gas.

Waste-to-energy offers an alternative—and one with a useful product at the end, in the form of energy. In other words, waste-to-energy has a double bonus for the environment: it reduces greenhouse gas emissions in two ways. First, there are fewer emissions from landfill, and second, it reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

Understanding waste-to-energy

The first incinerator was built in Nottingham, in the UK, in 1874, and the first in the US in New York in 1885. However, these early incinerators usually had little or no capacity to recover either energy or materials. Modern incinerators are able to do both. Many are used to provide heating for local sections of cities. They operate to very tight emission standards so are not polluting, and often reduce the volume of the original waste by more than 95%.

The precise volume, of course, depends on what can be recovered and reused from the ash. Technology to recover metals from ash has developed rapidly in the last few years. A new plant in Copenhagen on the island of Amager, where the Ramboll office is located, is able to recover metal particles as small as 0.5mm across. This is far better than the previous standard of 4mm and is an effective way to sort out metal that is difficult to separate manually before incineration.

Waste-to-energy around the world

At next week’s North American Waste to Energy Conference (NAWTEC), I am going to be part of a panel session on international opportunities for waste-to-energy. The idea of the panel session is to describe what is going on in waste-to-energy around the world, setting out ideas and opportunities for event participants.

Around the world, cities and countries are embracing waste-to-energy, with a number of new green-field facilities being commissioned or built. For example, estimates in Europe suggest that new waste-to-energy capacity of up to 55 mio will be needed to meet landfill directives and circular economy goals. Several Middle Eastern states, including Dubai, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, have either built or are in the process of commissioning new facilities. New facilities are also being commissioned as far apart as Lebanon, Singapore and Perth, Australia.

In South East Asia, there is a growing move towards waste-to-energy. China’s government has made a decision to move away from landfill, and has already established a number of waste-to-energy plants, mostly using Chinese technology. Thailand and Malaysia also already have waste-to-energy plants. The Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia have plans to establish plants in the foreseeable future.

Where next for waste-to-energy?

Despite these success stories, there are also parts of the world where waste-to-energy has been slower to grow, such as North America. This is partly because of lack of political will to move away from landfilling, which is perhaps what happens when you have plenty of space. It is also partly because there is less political acceptance that we need to move to a circular economy, with waste-to-energy as a key element. However, as this acceptance grows, there is huge potential in these countries too.

Today a lot of waste is still being sent to landfill or even dumped. The potential for new green-field waste-to-energy facilities is huge. Even in countries where there are already waste-to-energy facilities, old plants will eventually need replacing with modern and more energy-efficient plants. I think the future is bright for waste-to-energy, and I think there is growing acceptance that the future of the world will also be brighter for its increasing use.


About the Author

Bettina Kamuk is Global Market Director and Head of Department at Ramboll. Bettina is a highly experienced waste-to-energy project director and has been responsible for waste-to-energy projects worldwide, most recently in South East Asia and the Middle East. Currently, she is technical advisor for the National Environmental Agency (NEA) in Singapore during the development of the Integrated Waste Management Facility in Singapore planned for an annual capacity of 2 million tonnes of waste-to-energy recovery and more than 200,000 tonnes of bio-waste and recyclables for sorting. Bettina has been Board Member and Chair of the Scientific and Technical Committee for the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and has for eight years been chairing ISWA’s Working Group on Energy Recovery.

AboutRamboll

Ramboll is a leading engineering, design and consultancy company founded in Denmark in 1945. The company employs 15,000 working from 300 offices in 35 countries and has especially strong representation in the Nordics, UK, North America, Continental Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific. Ramboll is at the forefront of addressing the green transition and offers a holistic approach to energy that supports the sector on the journey towards more sustainable solutions. Ramboll has more than 50 years of experience in the planning, design and implementation of energy solutions, covering the full spectrum of technologies and all parts of the value chain from planning to production, transmission and distribution. Ramboll has worked on waste-to-energy projects in 45 countries, providing consulting services for 155 new units and retrofits.

Piling Up: How China’s Ban on Importing Waste Has Stalled Global Recycling

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Written by Cheryl Katz, Independent Science Writer

This article has been republished with the permission of Yale Environment 360, a publication of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The original posting can be found at Yale Environment 360 website.


It has been a year since China jammed the works of recycling programs around the world by essentially shutting down what had been the industry’s biggest market. China’s “National Sword” policy, enacted in January 2018, banned the import of most plastics and other materials headed for that nation’s recycling processors, which had handled nearly half of the world’s recyclable waste for the past quarter century. The move was an effort to halt a deluge of soiled and contaminated materials that was overwhelming Chinese processing facilities and leaving the country with yet another environmental problem — and this one not of its own making.

In the year since, China’s plastics imports have plummeted by 99 percent, leading to a major global shift in where and how materials tossed in the recycling bin are being processed. While the glut of plastics is the main concern, China’s imports of mixed paper have also dropped by a third. Recycled aluminum and glass are less affected by the ban.

Globally more plastics are now ending up in landfills, incinerators, or likely littering the environment as rising costs to haul away recyclable materials increasingly render the practice unprofitable. In England, more than half-a-million more tons of plastics and other household garbage were burned last year. Australia’s recycling industry is facing a crisis as the country struggles to handle the 1.3 million-ton stockpile of recyclable waste it had previously shipped to China.

Communities across the U.S. have curtailed collections or halted their recycling programs entirely.

Across the United States, local governments and recycling processors are scrambling to find new markets. Communities from Douglas County, Oregon to Hancock, Maine, have curtailed collections or halted their recycling programs entirely, which means that many residents are simply tossing plastic and paper into the trash. Some communities, like Minneapolis, stopped accepting black plastics and rigid #6 plastics like disposable cups. Others, like Philadelphia, are now burning the bulk of their recyclables at a waste-to-energy plant, raising concerns about air pollution.

Even before China’s ban, only 9 percent of discarded plastics were being recycled, while 12 percent were burned. The rest were buried in landfills or simply dumped and left to wash into rivers and oceans. Without China to process plastic bottles, packaging, and food containers — not to mention industrial and other plastic waste — experts warn it will exacerbate the already massive waste problem posed by our throwaway culture. The planet’s load of nearly indestructible plastics — more than 8 billion tons have been produced worldwide over the past six decades — continues to grow.

“Already, we’ve been seeing evidence in the past year of the accumulation of plastic waste in countries that are dependent on exporting,” says the University of Georgia’s Amy Brooks, a Ph.D. student in engineering and lead author of a recent study on the impacts of China’s import ban. “We’ve seen increased cost to consumers, closure of recycling facilities, and ultimately decreased plastic waste diversion.”

The recycling crisis triggered by China’s ban could have an upside, experts say, if it leads to better solutions for managing the world’s waste, such as expanding processing capacities in North America and Europe, and spurring manufacturers to make their products more easily recyclable. Above all, experts say it should be a wake-up call to the world on the need to sharply cut down on single-use plastics.

Over the coming decade, as many as 111 million tons of plastics will have to find a new place to be processed or otherwise disposed of as a result of China’s ban, according to Brooks and University of Georgia engineering professor Jenna Jambeck. However, the places trying to take up some of the slack in 2018 tended to be lower-income countries, primarily in Southeast Asia, many of which lack the infrastructure to properly handle recyclables. Many of those countries were quickly overwhelmed by the volume and have also now cut back on imports.

Prior to China’s ban, 95 percent of the plastics collected for recycling in the European Union and 70 percent in the U.S. were sold and shipped to Chinese processors. There, they were turned into forms to be repurposed by plastic manufacturers. Favorable rates for shipping in cargo vessels that carried Chinese consumer goods abroad and would otherwise return to China empty, coupled with the country’s low labor costs and high demand for recycled materials, made the practice profitable.

“Everyone was sending their materials to China because their contamination standard was low and their pricing was very competitive,” says Johnny Duong, acting chief operating officer of California Waste Solutions, which handles recycling for Oakland and San Jose. Like most municipal recycling programs, those cities contract with Duong’s company to collect and sort recyclable waste at its materials recovery facility, where they are baled and sent to end-market processors. Before the ban, Duong says, his company sold around 70 percent of its recyclables to China. Now, that has fallen to near zero.

China’s action came after many recycling programs had transitioned from requiring consumers to separate paper, plastics, cans, and bottles to today’s more common “single stream,” where it all goes into the same blue bin. As a result, contamination from food and waste has risen, leaving significant amounts unusable. In addition, plastic packaging has become increasingly complex, with colors, additives, and multilayer, mixed compositions making it ever more difficult to recycle. China has now cut off imports of all but the cleanest and highest-grade materials — imposing a 99.5 percent purity standard that most exporters found all-but impossible to meet.

“Costs associated with recycling are up, revenue associated with recycling is down,” says an industry official.

“All recyclable plastics from municipal recycling programs have been pretty much banned,” says Anne Germain, vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for the U.S. trade group National Waste and Recycling Association. “It’s had a tremendous impact. Costs associated with recycling are up, revenue associated with recycling is down. And that’s not turning around in the next few weeks.”

The U.S. and Europe, where many cities have longstanding recycling collection programs, have been especially hard-hit. Decades of reliance on China had stifled development of domestic markets and infrastructure. “There are just not very easy or cost-effective options for dealing with it now,” says Brooks. “So if nothing is done to ensure efficient management of plastic waste, the cost-effective option is to send it to landfills or incineration.”

In the U.S., small town and rural recycling operations have been hit the hardest. While most continue to operate, rising costs and falling incomes are forcing some, like Kingsport, Tennessee to shut down. Others, like Phenix City, Alabama, have stopped accepting all plastics. Places like Deltona, Florida suspended curbside pickup. Residents in municipalities like these now must travel to collection points in sometimes distant locations if they want to recycle. Some are inevitably tossing their recyclables in the trash instead.

Most larger cities — such as New York, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon — have been able to either find alternative markets or improve and expand their municipal operations to process higher-quality and more marketable materials. But many have had to make changes, including dropping some harder-to-recycle materials from their programs. Sacramento, California, for instance, halted collections of plastics labeled #4 through #7 for several months last year at the city waste operator’s request. Residents were told to discard those items in their household garbage.

“That was a real eye opener for a lot of folks who love to feel good about putting their recycling in their blue bin and then it magically turns into something else,” says Erin Treadwell, community outreach manager for Sacramento Public Works. “We wish it was that easy.” Collection there resumed in November after a public education campaign on how households should clean and sort their recyclables.

In Philadelphia last year, when the city’s waste contractor demanded higher fees for collecting and processing recycled materials, the city sent half its recyclables to a waste-to-energy plant, where they were burned to generate electricity; the rest went to an interim contractor.

Displaced Chinese companies have announced plans to open new processing plants in South Carolina and Alabama.

Simon Ellin, CEO of The Recycling Association, a UK industry group, said these countries have struggled to cope with the volume displaced by the Chinese ban and were beginning to impose their own import restrictions.

Whether China’s ban leads to increased plastic pollution in the environment remains to be seen. “The plastic is now getting diverted to countries with a high risk of improper management and high leakage rates,” says Roland Geyer, an industrial ecology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and lead author of a recent study on the ultimate fate of disposed plastics. Still, China, with its high volume of imports, had been the source of more than a quarter of the world’s mismanaged waste, Jambeck says. So if proper alternatives are found, plastic pollution could actually decrease.

Some options are beginning to emerge. Several U.S. materials recovery facilities are expanding operations, upgrading equipment, and adding workers to improve sorting and reduce contamination so that the materials are acceptable to more discerning buyers. Duong’s Oakland-based company — which handles paper, plastics, and some metals — has modified its equipment and devised better ways of separating materials. The company has developed new markets domestically and in places like South Korea, Indonesia, and India.

And displaced Chinese processors have announced plans to open new U.S. processing plants in Orangeburg, South Carolina and Huntsville, Alabama. The companies will shred or pelletize things like plastic food containers to make products such as artificial plants and hangers.

“There is the expectation that we’ll be able to expand domestic processing,” says Germain. “That’s the good news. [But] you don’t build a new facility overnight.”

A variety of new policies aimed at reducing plastic waste are also in the works. The European Parliament recently approved a ban on single-use plastics, including plastic cutlery, straws, and drink-stirrers. Several North American cities, including Seattle and Vancouver, and companies like Starbucks and American Airlines have taken similar actions. And many places around the world now restrict plastic shopping bags.

“Reducing the amount of waste we generate in the first place is the most important thing we can do,” says Lance Klug, information officer for California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The agency has been working with manufacturers for the past decade to reduce the discarded packaging that makes up about a quarter of what’s in the state’s landfills, he says, adding, “We’re trying to get industry more involved in the end-of-life disposition of their products.”

Britain is planning to tax manufacturers of plastic packaging with less than 30 percent recycled materials. And Norway recently adopted a system in which single-use plastic bottle-makers pay an “environmental levy” that declines as the return rate for their products rises. The bottles must be designed for easy recycling, with no toxic additives, only clear or blue color, and water-soluble labels.


About the Author

Cheryl Katz is an independent science writer covering climate change, energy, earth sciences, and environmental health. A former newspaper reporter, she has reported from Iceland to Africa on topics ranging from new geothermal technology to rapidly warming lakes. Her articles have appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic News and Hakai Magazine, among other publications.

Innovative company fueling greener steel from Wood Waste

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Ontario-based CHAR Technologies is developing cost-effective and efficient alternative fuels that help manufacturers drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), all while adding value to otherwise wasted resources. Andrew White is CEO of CHAR Technologies Ltd., an innovative Toronto-based cleantech company specializing in biocarbon fuel development and provides custom equipment for industrial air and water treatment, environmental management services, site investigation and remediation and resource efficiency.

Mr. White began developing their first product, SulfaCHAR, while he was a grad student at the University of Toronto (U of T). SulfaCHAR is a patented form of activated biochar that removes hydrogen sulfide from renewable natural gas the same way a Brita® water filter removes contaminants from tap water, leaving behind a clean biogas that can be used for multiple energy applications.

The feedstock used in the production of SulfaCHAR is anaerobic digestate and/or compost.  Production of SulfaCHAR is achieved by pyrolysis under patented conditions that include specific hold times, temperatures, and conditions.  Currently, there is a SulfaCHAR production facility co-located at the Stormfisher Environmental biogas facility in London, Ontario.

CHAR Technologies’ next challenge is to develop a product it calls CleanFyre, a solid biofuel intended to replace traditional coal. On a fundamental level, CleanFyre is produced through pyrolysis, the same process that has been used to turn wood into charcoal since ancient times. “In pyrolysis, you have a bio-based material that you heat up in the absence of oxygen,” explains Devon Barry, Char Technologies’ Biocarbon Manager. “Since there is no oxygen, the organic material does not combust but instead the chemical compounds that make up the material decompose into combustible gases and charcoal.”

As we all know, burning coal proliferates GHGs, and unfortunately, a commercially viable solution that produces high enough energy levels to replace coal in many manufacturing processes, such as iron making, doesn’t exist yet. However, CHAR Technologies believes it can offer a solution to address the need for a high carbon, low ash coal replacement as an energy and reactant source.

The feedstock in the production of Cleanfyre is currently clean wood and waste wood. Other biomass materials are also being testing. The use of wood and biomass in the production the CleanFyre is considered carbon neutral as the source material is renewable.

ArcelorMittal Dofasco is Canada’s largest flat roll steel producer based in Hamilton, Ontario. In 2017, the steelmaker approached one of Ontario’s regional innovation centres, the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), looking for a cost-effective alternative fuel for their blast furnaces that would reduce GHGs.

Andrew White, CEO, CHAR Technologies

“There was nothing that could generate the high levels of carbon and energy needed for steel production,” says White, who has now been meeting with ArcelorMittal Dofasco for 18 months. CHAR Technologies is piloting their CleanFyre energy fuel product through this Ontario-based collaboration, with an eye on opening up a market estimated at $340 million in Ontario alone.

ArcelorMittal Dofasco has active plans towards an initial 20 tonne trial of CleanFyre in their blast furnaces, with the potential to scale-up once they confirm the fuel’s effectiveness. The major advantage of CHAR Technologies’ solution is ‘simplicity,’ says White. “There are no major modifications required for the iron making process; we’re striving towards a ‘drop-in’ solid biofuel.”

Ongoing research at the University of Toronto will be key to CleanFyre’s success. “We are working with researchers at the University of Toronto on some very innovative ways to drastically reduce the ash content, which will allow us to expand our feed stocks to low value ‘wastes’ that have valuable low GHG carbon that’s otherwise inaccessible.”

This article is an edited version from the one posted on the InvestOntario website.

American Manganese Reports on Test Results From Lithium-ion Battery Recycling Pilot Plant

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American Manganese Inc., headquartered in Surrey British Columbia, recently reported the results from testing lithium battery recycling at its pilot plant. Using the Company’s patent-approved process, battery scraps underwent separation and leach operations yielding a pregnant leach solution (PLS) containing cathode metals (cobalt, lithium, nickel and manganese) in quantities which meet the Company’s expectations.

“The pilot plant testing procedure is done in a manner that helps collect valuable operational data that will help us optimize the pilot plant for testing at a continuous rate once all stages are complete,” said Larry Reaugh, American Manganese Inc. CEO. “While the pilot plant testing is expected to be complete by end of May 2019, EV and battery manufacturers are already conducting due diligence on our process.”

About American Manganese Inc.

American Manganese Inc. is a critical metal company with a patent approved process for the recovery of metals from lithium-ion batteries such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese, and aluminum. Using a novel combination of reagents and unit operations, AMY can provide 100% extraction of cathode metals at battery grade purity. American Manganese Inc. aims to capitalize on its patent approved technology and proprietary know-how to become the industry leader in recycling spent electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries.

Fun with Waste: Ontario Company holds Recycled Artwork Contest

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Wolfpack Packaging Inc., headquartered in Newmarket Ontario, is holding an art contest for all students across York Region to turn recyclable materials into works of art worthy of office space.

Anything from plastic straws, newspaper clippings, cardboard boxes, used shoelaces or worn pillow cases can be used for the Recycled Materials Art contest. 


Erin Clark-Wynn and Heather Rover display cardboard for the WolfPack recycled materials art contest. (Photo Cedit: Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland)

This year’s Art Contest theme is: GROWTH.To participate, you must fill in a registration form here.

  • All work must be created using post-consumer paper, fabric, plastic, metal, glass or otherwise non-recyclable waste as the main media. No organic or food waste accepted.
  • All art must be the original work of each entrant. No outside assistance, no  replicas or copies.
  • Photography is acceptable provided it adheres to the above theme and, in some way, supports an additional theme of re-use.
  • No Video, Computer graphics, Computer Animation, Spoken Word or Performance Art.   
  • Wall/ hung artwork must be no larger than 48″ x 96″ or deeper than 4″
  • Sculpture must not occupy a footprint greater than 2′ x 4′ wide and 12 feet tall
  • All submissions must come complete with proper hanging hardware or supportive base (sculpture).

The company has submission requirements, which include the following:

  • Submission deadline is Monday, May 6, 2019 by 4:30pm.
  • Entrants must be residents of York Region 13-21 years of age. Proof of age might be required.
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners (and cash recipients) will be required to display their winning artwork at Wolfpack Packaging Inc. for 12 months – or longer by arrangement.
  • There is no cost to enter. Scrap corrugate is available at Wolfpack Packaging Inc. Should you wish to collect scrap, view the space or have any questions, please contact erin@wolfpack.ca via email only.

The company is giving away over $1,000 in cash prizes as well as possible funding for upcoming related education. Winners will be announced at the Wolfpack Packaging Inc. Art Show on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 7-8 pm in Newmarket, Ontario.

Wolfpack is a custom and stock packaging supplier based out of Newmarket, Ontario.

Quebec-based Waste Robotics firm receives $1.4 million in government funding

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Waste Robotics, headquartered in Trois-Rivieres QC, recently recieved $1.4 million in Canadian government funding to support the development of its
robotic garbage sorter. The funding is being provided by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), which works with Canadian companies to bring clean technologies to market.

Waste Robotics is developing a sorting system that uses cutting-edge technology and artificial intelligence to separate commercial waste more efficiently and cost-effectively. The system will consist of a high-capacity, multi-arm robot sorting system. The system will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting tens of thousands of tonnes of organic material from landfills every year.

The government support will further Waste Robotics’ effort to become a world leader in robotic waste and recycling sorting solutions. A government spokesperson said during the news conference to announce the funding that small and medium-sized businesses like Waste Robotics play an important role in the clean technology market, driving the economy and helping us meet our climate change goals.

The Government of Canada is making cleantech a priority in order to secure Canada’s international leadership position in this fast-growing market. Waste Robotics is an example of a clean technology company that is supporting growth and creating jobs, while helping to protect our environment.

During the funding announcement new conference, Eric Camirand, founder and CEO of Waste Robotics, stated: “Waste Robotics develops intelligent sorting systems that are revolutionizing the waste recycling industry and contributing in a significant way to sustainable development. We are very pleased to be able to benefit from the support of SDTC to demonstrate our technologies under real commercial conditions, thus strengthening the growth of Waste Robotics.”

Leah Lawrence, President and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) attended the funding announcement and stated: “Everyone knows what it’s like to recycle waste in their home. This robot will help cities do it on a massive scale in a really cool, high-tech way, resulting in less garbage in our landfills.”

Sustainable Development Technology Canada helps Canadian entrepreneurs develop and demonstrate new environmental technologies that address climate change, clean air, clean water and clean soil challenges.

Ontario: Orphaned Eco-Fees Raises Legal Questions for Electronics Industry

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by Jonathan D. Cocker, Baker McKenzie

Ontario’s waste electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) stewardship obligations are being transitioned to a circular economy legal regime.  The government-overseen e-waste program is being wound-up and will effectively cease as of June 30, 2020. The program has managed to generate such a surplus of funds from consumers it otherwise would pay the electronics recycling industry that it’s obtained approval from the Ontario government to grant the industry, and presumably in turn, consumers a “fee holiday” in order to expend the surplus. The fee holiday started on February 1st, 2019 and runs until June 30, 2020.

This means no eco-fees (or Environmental Handling Fees) on electronics are to be charged and remitted for the next 17 months when the program ends.

No Relaxation For Electronics Industry During Fee Holiday

But what if the electronics supply chain and retailers somehow continue to pass the now orphaned eco-fee down the supply chain and ultimately to consumers in spite of industry’s inability to remit it.  Most consumers will not likely be aware of this reprieve in obligation. Most suppliers and retailers have systems already programed to charge the fee. It’s not clear any regulatory authority is actively policing industry on this. So if it’s business as usual in electronics sales, where will the money go and what are the risks?

Whose Money Is it Anyway?

The e-waste program, like all government-overseen plans in the province, funds its ongoing program costs with an eco-fee cost imposed upon consumers. The rates are rigidly set and the supply chain and retail parties simply pass the eco-fee through to point-of-sale and then remit to the program. No risks or rewards are assumed by these parties and there is no opportunity to internalize or otherwise alter the eco-fee for competitive or profit purposes.

The fees have not been, and cannot credibly be claimed as, margin adjustments when charged in an identical manner to unwitting consumers.  It would be difficult for industry to claim title to the monies, whether as an advance or an investment. The monies are simply consumer overpayments relative to the costs of the soon-to-be-defunct program, and the amount at issue is not insignificant. Orphaned eco-fees which could be passed to consumers during the holiday could potentially be as high as one hundred million dollars.

Duty of Care for Orphaned Eco-Fees

As the e-waste program can no longer accept eco-fees charged after February 1st, 2019, it raises questions as to what proactive measures the electronics industry, including brand owners and importers, must take to ensure no such fees continue to be passed on to consumers who should otherwise be enjoying the fee holiday they’ve effectively funded.

Ignorance of the holiday may not protect electronics companies. Through their participation in the e-waste program, industry will be deemed to have knowledge that any post-February 1st, 2019 eco-fees are effectively orphaned.  Nor are any parties clearly insulated from risk. Continued charging of the eco-fee by supply chain parties, effectively compelling retailers to recapture the costs from consumers, may also create legal uncertainty. All parties may have a duty of care here.

Be Neither Recipient Nor Beneficiary of Orphaned Eco-fees?

Resetting systems and processes to eliminate the eco-fee will be laborious. Instead, some parties within the electronics industry may be inclined to accrue the orphaned eco-fee for a future mutually-beneficial use, such as supporting industry-segmented private producer responsibility organizations which will rise from the ashes of the government program. This, however, may appear as industry doing indirectly what it cannot do directly and may not be defensible if and when someone comes asking about the treasure trove of orphaned fees.

It’s clear that the 17-month fee holiday journey to a private circular economy model for electronics provides no time off for industry.  It must act now to address any unsanctioned charging of orphaned eco-fees.  The holiday has already started.


About the Author

Jonathan D. Cocker heads the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of firm Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environment, health and safety matters, including product content, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, extended producer responsibilities and contaminated lands matters. He appears before both EHS tribunals and civil courts across Canada. Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on EHS matters, an active participant on EHS issues in a number of national and international industry associations and the recent author of the first edition of The Environment and Climate Change Law Review (Canada chapter) and the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Chemicals chapter).

Global Waste-to-Energy Market Analysis and Forecast to 2027

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According to a recent research report prepared by Research and Markets Inc., the global waste-to-energy (WTE) market is poised for strong growth for the forecast period up to 2027.

The report, entitled “Global Waste to Energy Market Analysis & Trends – Industry Forecast to 2027”, states some of the prominent trends that the market is witnessing include demand in focus towards energy generation, rising government initiatives and stringent regulations, and increasing popularity of renewable energy resources.

The study presents detailed market analysis with inputs derived from industry professionals across the value chain. A special focus has been made on 23 countries such as U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Germany, Spain, France, Italy, China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, etc. The market data is gathered from extensive primary interviews and secondary research. The market size is calculated based on the revenue generated through sales from all the given segments and sub segments in the research scope. The market sizing analysis includes both top-down and bottom-up approaches for data validation and accuracy measures.

Market Research Report

A similar market study prepared by Market Research, entitled Global Waste To Energy Market Analysis, Drivers, Restraints, Opportunities, Threats, Trends, Applications, And Growth Forecast To 2027, predicts growth in the WTE market.

The Market Research report states that increasing adoption of renewable energy resources globally is a key factor driving growth of the global waste to energy market. In addition, government policies on waste deposable & treatment techniques, low price of fossil fuel, and development in thermal technologies such as incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis that lowers the carbon emissions are other factors expected to boost growth of the global waste to energy market over the forecast period.

The Market Research report cautions that the high cost associated with waste to energy generation is a key factor restraining growth of the global waste to energy market. Additionally, lack of awareness regarding waste to energy benefits, and emission of flue gases in thermal waste to energy technology that causes health issues are other factors expected to hamper growth of the global waste to energy market over the forecast period.

The Market Research report predicts that the rising demand of low cost technologies for treating local waste is also expected to generate potential opportunity for key players in the global waste to energy market over the forecast period.

Global Survey Results on Digital Transformation of the Waste Industry

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The results of a recent global survey indicate that the majority of companies in the waste & recycling industry give themselves a failing grade when it comes to the adoption of new technology. The survey, conducted by the AMCS Group polled municipalities and private sector companies across Europe and the US. The respondents included a significant number of organisations with more than 250 employees. More than half of respondents have more than 50 vehicles for waste collection.

The waste management industry is less than enthusiastic about the success of its digital transformation so far. This is especially true for the application of new technologies, with most companies giving themselves a failing grade, according to our survey respondents within municipalities and private sector companies across Europe and the US. 

Some 60% of the organisations surveyed gave themselves a grade of ‘unsatisfactory’ for their progress in the application of new technologies. Using the results of the research, AMCS developed the Waste Management Digital Transformation Model to help organisations take the next steps toward making the digital transformation a success.

More than 80% of participants believe that digital innovation is important for the success of the business. Outdated legacy IT systems, implementing paperless operations and a culture that is not open to change are seen as the biggest barriers. For the Digital Transformation Barometer 2018, AMCS designed an international survey to discover how successful companies are using technology to radically improve their performance.

Drivers of success for digital transformation in waste management

“The research shows that there are five elements that are critical to success in transitioning into a digital organisation,” says Mark Abbas, Chief Marketing Officer for AMCS. “Besides engaged employees and a management team that gives people the space to innovate, it is very important to have a comprehensive understanding of the digital trends and advancements in the value chain. It is also down to a smart application of new technology within the organisation and using (reliable) data to make decisions.”

Key findings from the benchmark

There were three key findings from the research as follows:

  1. Digital transformation requires leadership in change management – 83% of those surveyed said they had the right leadership and culture in place to be able to realize a successful digital transformation.
  2. The digital part of the digital transformation is the most challenging for 60% of respondents.
  3. Legacy systems are the biggest challenge to successful digital transformation for 54% of respondents.

What do the leaders do differently?

According to Abbas, the research results provide insights into a very interesting group of companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation. “This group approaches digital transformation in a completely different way and has very different priorities from the rest. Their operations are already very nearly paperless, they use digital invoicing systems and they have self-service web portals available for their customers. They are also more likely to already be using other digital techniques and applications, such as RFID, GPS Monitoring, Route Optimisation and in-vehicle tablets.”

The foreseeable future will be about evolving from data to information. Analytics and BI are making it possible to immediately calculate the profitability of routes and jobs. Coordination with subcontractors is optimised when information can be exchanged digitally. And investing in applications like digital invoicing and payments mean offices can become completely paperless.


About AMCS Group

AMCS is a supplier of integrated software and vehicle technology for the waste, recycling and material resources industries. AMCS helps its customers to reduce operating costs, increase asset utilization, optimize margins and improve customer service.