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 Outdated legacy IT systems, implementing paperless operations and a culture that is not open to change are seen as the biggest barriers.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.

Nexxsource Recycling Sold

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North West Rubber Ltd. (NWR) and Moose Creek Tire Recycling Inc. (MCTR) a Subsidiary of Animat Inc. recently announced their acquisition of the assets of Nexxsource Recycling (and all related companies). The new company will operate under the name Evolve Recycling Inc. (Evolve), and will also include Trillium MC Inc., MCTR’s tire hauling subsidiary. Evolve is headquartered at 300 Henry Street, Brantford, Ontario.

Evolve is a major transporter and processor of end-of-life tires in Canada, with operations spanning Manitoba and Ontario. Evolve processes these tires into various end-products.

In Ontario, producers and importers of tires must comply with the Regulations made under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016. Most tires go to tire recycling operations such at the Nexxsource (Evolve) facility in Brantford.

The nearly named Evolve tire recycling facility in Brantford recently applied for an amendment to its existing Environmental Compliance Approval (waste disposal) to all it to store tires outside. In 2016, when the facility was operating at Liberty Tire Recycling Canada Ltd., its application for an amendment to its Environmental Compliance Approval (waste disposal) was denied by the Ontario Environment Ministry. The 2016 amendment request was rejected due to complaints/fire accidents about the plant operations.

NWR, headquartered in Abbotsford, B.C., has been in business since 1968. It has rubber product manufacturing facilities in B.C., Ontario, China, and is currently constructing a manufacturing facility in Texas. NWR produces and supplies a wide variety of flooring, matting, and industrial products to several Retail and Industrial markets throughout North America.

MCTR, whose majority shareholder is Ani-mat Inc., has been in business for 10 years, although Ani-mat (headquartered in Sherbrooke, QC) has been in business since 1983. MCTR/Ani-mat have manufacturing facilities in Ontario and Quebec, and supply a wide variety of products all over the world for various uses in the dairy and equine industries, and as anti-fatigue mats and floor protection in commercial and industrial areas.

Single Use Coffee Cup – The Recycling Challenge

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by Rebecca Zarmon, Sheridan College

Individual Parts are Recyclable

Polyethylene is one of the most prolific polymers in industry; it is used for plastic bags, food films, bottles, cutting boards, toys, insulation, and many other objects.  Disposable coffee cups are a prolific source of waste throughout Canada and North America.  These cups are typically constructed of paper with a Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) lining, and have lids made of high impact polystyrene (HIPS).

While paper, HIPS, and LDPE are individually considered recyclable, the three materials require different treatment to be recycled, and are not recyclable when they are mixed together, such as they are in a coffee cup.  Most disposal coffee cups end up in landfills and the LDPE ends up as microplastics that have become pervasive throughout most of our ecosystem.

Generation

Polyethylene is a polymer—a chain of repeating compounds—of ethene, 𝐶𝐻# = 𝐶𝐻#, from the catalytic cracking of crude oil.  Depending on the pressure used during the process, polyethylene can be categorised as low density or high density.  LDPE is made under high pressure and has many branching chains, resulting in a flexible plastic.  HIPS is made under low pressure and is very linear, with few branches and is more rigid.  Polyethylene is resistant to degradation from food and most water based mixtures, which makes it very popular for use in the food industry.

Disposable paper cups are generated by restaurant industry, fast food industry, coffee shops, supermarkets, and food trucks, to name a few.  It is also possible to buy a package of disposable coffee cups for personal use from retail stores.  Disposable coffee cups are seen everywhere, and it is not uncommon for a customer to purchase multiple disposable cups from the food industry in a single day.  It was estimated that 1.5 billion disposable coffee cups were used in Canada in 2010, with 1 million cups per day being sent to a landfill from the City of Toronto alone.

Material Handling and Recycling

Polyethylene can be sent to a recycling facility.  To recycle LDPE and retain high quality plastic, the used LDPE must be separated from other materials, including other plastics and HDPE.  The separated plastic must be cleaned and dried and formed back into pellets.

Separation of the LDPE is typically done manually, by humans.  In some businesses, such as the cosmetics company LUSH, washing is also done manually.  While these processes add to the cost of recycling plastics like LDPE, it is still often worth recycling, and many facilities dedicated to recycling plastics exist throughout the country.  An example of a company that recycles plastic is Nexcycle Canada Ltd., located in Brampton, Ontario.  Besides recycling glass, Nexcycle recycles LDPE, HDPE, and polypropylene (PP).  

Recycled HDPE from Nexcycle

Disposable cups are often marketed as recyclable or compostable, due to the materials individually being recyclable or compostable.  Paper is well known for being recyclable and compostable, but as with polyethylene, the paper must be separated from other materials cleaned to be recycled into new paper products.  This presents a problem for disposable paper cups, as they are lined with LDPE, which must be removed before either component can be recycled.  The process to separate the LDPE lining and the paper is very difficult and as a result, most coffee cups end up in landfill or being incinerated.

Environmental Impacts

Polymers, including polyethylene, require about 100 MJ of energy expenditure to produce 1 kg of product and release about 10,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) to the atmosphere annually.  Paper and cardboard require about 30 MJ of energy to produce 1 kg of product and release about 10,500,000 tonnes of CO2e to the atmosphere annually.

The production of a disposal coffee cup has an impact on greenhouse gas emissions.  Professor Michael F. Ashby at the University of Cambridge determined the production of an average disposable cup weighing about  18 grams can generate 28 grams of CO2 equivalents, effectively 1.5 times its mass.

There are potential human health impacts from the use of disposal coffee cups.  When cups are used under excessive heat, such as the near boiling temperatures of coffee and tea, the LDPE lining breaks down and enters the liquid, which is then ingested.

If coffee cups enter the organics recycling stream, problems result.  The paper in the cup degrades quickly.  However, the polyethylene coating on the cup does not degrade and coffee cups that enter the organic waste or recycle streams end up contaminating the process.  

When polyethylene ends up in a lake or ocean, the plastic begins to degrade into smaller pieces, but does not decompose.  Once the piece of plastic become less than 5 mm in size, they are categorised as microplastics. These microplastics are easily ingested by aquatic life, which are ingested by other animals eating the aquatic animals.  Because the microplastics do not decompose, they have managed to spread across the food chain, including humans.

Potential Solutions

The “Four R’s” of waste management is a hierarchal strategy to manage waste at all points of its life cycle.  The first of the four is to reduce the amount of waste at the point of generation.

Replacements for polyethylene and other plastics have been studied, such as using guar gum and citric acid as a food grade lining, but the replacement does not produce as effective of a lining and the currently low cost and high durability of polyethylene prevents from any alternatives from becoming more popular.  Some coffee shops have switched to cups labeled as biodegradable, but these cups still go to landfill as their lining is not biodegradable.

The second “R” is to reuse products.  Disposable paper cups are intended for single use, but many coffee shops offer monetary incentives for bringing a reusable mug instead of purchasing a disposable cup.  In 2008, less than 2% of Starbucks customers used reusable cups.  Starbucks initiated a campaign to improve the reusable cup rate to 25% by 2015.  Reusable cups were offered for sale in store at low prices and discounts were given to those who used reusable cups, but the percentage of customers using reusable cups stayed below 2% by 2015.

It is possible that Starbucks’ strategy did not work because it is not the pricing that influences people to use or not use disposable cups, but the lack of knowledge of the impacts disposable cups have.  Many people are unaware that most disposable cups are not recyclable nor compostable.  

The City of Toronto displays on their waste management page that disposable coffee cups go into the landfill stream, but still some jurisdictions claim to accept coffee cups into green or blue bins. Coffee shops also frequently have bins displaying coffee cups under the recycling sign.

In the UK, a study was done where signs explaining the impact of coffee cups were displayed in coffee shops in varying locations.  In most locations, the percentage of customers using reusable cups went up, the highest increase going from 7.5% of customers using a reusable mug to 24.0% of customers using a reusable mug.

The third “R” is recycling.  As previously discussed, recycling is not an ideal situation, as current technology to separate LDPE from paper is too expensive.  A number of organizations in Ontario are working to reduce the amount of disposable cups that end up in landfill as well.

A project in the UK called CupCycling from James Cropper turns the paper from the cups into usable paper by soaking and softening the paper, skimming off the plastic film, filtering out the inpurities and reusing the material for other marketable products for other products and uses and sends the plastic to a plastic recycler.

The “R” at the bottom—hence the least effective at managing waste—is recovery.  Recovery refers to the incineration of the waste, with the product of the incineration being used to fuel another process, thereby reducing energy generation. Most polyethylene lined paper cups that aren’t in a landfill end up being incinerated.

Conclusion

Polyethylene is a highly durable plastic that is capable of maintaining stability even when in contact with water and food, which makes it a highly valuable material in the food industry. These same characteristics lead polyethylene to being very difficult to eliminate from the environment and it often ends up as microplastics in the ocean and in the digestive systems of animals throughout the food chain. Although polyethylene is recyclable, it is often used as a lining in disposable cups, rendering otherwise recyclable materials as landfill waste.  Alternatives to polyethylene are possible, but as of yet not stable or cheap enough for companies to make the switch.

Currently, the best option to reduce the amount of polyethylene in landfills and oceans is to educate customers on the impacts of disposable coffee cups and promote the use of reusable mugs.

Nova Scotia amends rules to allow waste-to-energy projects

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The Government of Nova Scotia recently gave the green light to waste-to-energy projects in the province. Nova Scotia’s solid waste regulations have been amended to allow thermal treatment facilities to turn plastic, cardboard and newsprint into energy. The changes clarify that the province considers energy recovery as waste diversion.

All waste-to-energy facilities will require an environmental assessment and industrial approvals before going ahead.

A potential benefactor of the amended regulation is Sustane Technologies based in Chester, Nova Scotia. The company is in the process of constructing a waste-to-pellets facility. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) provided $2.6 million in funding assistance in 2017 for the development of the facility.

At the media event in 2017 announcing the SDTC funding award, Leah Lawrence, President and CEO of SDTC, stated: “Sustane’s first-of-its-kind technology converts waste into useful products like synthetic diesel and recycled metal and plastic, potentially eliminating the need for landfills. This Nova Scotia–based company’s technology has applications around the world, and SDTC is proud to be its partner.” 

When fully constructed and operational, the plant will transform up to 70,000 tonnes per year of MSW into 35,000 tonnes per year of biomass pellets, 3.5 million litres per year of diesel fuel, plus recyclable metals.  The project will increase landfill diversion rates for Chester, Valley Waste Authority (Annapolis Valley) and Municipal Joint Services Board from approximately 50% to over 90%.

The project broke ground in March 2017 and is currently undergoing testing with full operation expected in Q1 of 2019.

A waste audit in 2017 by Divert Nova Scotia found 43 per cent of the garbage being sent to landfills is banned material that could have been composted or recycled. 

According to the province’s news release, recyclable materials will still be banned from landfills.

“Nova Scotians are national leaders in waste diversion, but there is still more we can do to keep waste out of our landfills,” Environment Minister Margaret Miller said in a news release. “We want Nova Scotians to continue to recycle and compost, but we also need to ensure we’re doing all we can to reduce our footprint. This will give new businesses the chance to create something useful from waste destined for landfills.”

Gordon Helm, Chief Technical Officer at Fourth State Energy & Nova Waste Solutions Inc., said “This is very exciting news for Nova Scotia, and the government’s stated intention to modernize our solid waste resource management regime. It’s a major step in reducing the harmful environmental impacts of active landfilling and the generations of emissions of methane GHG and the production of millions of litres of toxic leachate.”

Mr. Helm added, “Advanced thermal conversion technologies are a proven, cost effective, and energy efficient alternative to landfills and incineration. We can and need to continue to do more in terms of reducing waste resources, but waiting for the all or nothing solution is not the answer … In the end, any solution that moves us towards ending active landfilling is a worthy effort.”

Nova Scotians, on a per capita basis, send the least amount of waste to landfill – 404 kilograms of waste per person per year. The national average is 688 kilograms of waste landfilled per person per year.

Development of an Alternative Glass Market: Bio-Soil from Recycled Glass

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The Regional Municipality of Niagara, Ontario recently reported on a research and development project that explored alternative uses for recycled glass.  The project was partially funded from the Ontario Continuous Improvement Fund, which is a partnership between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the City of TorontoStewardship Ontario (SO) and the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (formerly Waste Diversion Ontario – WDO).

In Ontario and throughout much of Canada, the marketplace for municipal grade mixed broken glass is relatively thin and, at the same time, quality specifications from end markets are becoming tighter, requiring added attention by Material Recovery Facility (MRF) operators.

Testing a Potential New End Market for Recovered Glass

Niagara Region is seeking to create a secondary market for recycled glass in the event its current market (sandblast) slows down. The project the municipality is currently working on is an innovative approach to development of an economically-effective way to replace up to 85% of the sand component of engineered bio-soil with processed recycled glass.

A perceived benefit to using recycled glass in bio-soil for the Region is that its granular sizing can be controlled and be easily reproduced at the Region’s glass processing facility.

The project features three main tasks to determine the suitability and feasibility of utilizing recycled glass as an ingredient in bio-soil.  The tasks are as follows:

  • Task 1 – Laboratory Testing of Bio-soil Quality;
  • Task 2 – Field Plot Testing of Bio-soil Quality; and
  • Task 3 – Economic Feasibility Analysis

Task 1 Progress to Date

Task 1 has three goals:

  1. Identify desired product specifications and characteristics to be in line with soil media currently used;
  2. Examine the physical, chemical, microbiological and leaching characteristics of the recycled glass; and
  3. Undertake greenhouse trials to test the effectiveness of the proposed media specifications and determine which of the mixes should be taken to larger field trails in Task 2.

So far under Task 1, the Region has experienced mixed success with laboratory germination tests. The first test revealed 80% germination and positive plant growth. However, the second growth test results were not as favourable, with only 20% growth. The discrepancy between the two is that different media mixes were used. Further testing is currently underway to confirm growth viability.

First Test with Positive Growth

Second Test with Less Than Positive Growth

The goal for Task 2, is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed media through field plot studies. The results from the greenhouse studies undertaken in Task 1 will be fully evaluated by the project team and field plots will be designed. This evaluation will identify what media mixes showed the potential characteristics desired and which one should be brought forward for the field plot studies. The field plots will be located at a site that is suitable to meet the ongoing needs of the research over the length of the project.

Assessing Economic Feasibility in Task 3

Task 3 will build on the results of Tasks 1 and 2 to complete an economic feasibility assessment for including recycled glass in bio-soil.

A first step for Task 3 is a high-level assessment (tonnages, costs, revenues) of the current recycled market in Ontario. This plus Niagara data would be used as the baseline from for comparison. The efforts would then include an examination of all the costs for production of bio-soil utilizing recycled glass. A secondary goal is the evaluation of the market costs for comparable sand products and the value ranges for which recycled glass could be purchased.

Project Next Steps

Once Niagara Region has identified and developed the correct mixture for optimal germination and growth, staff will proceed to Task 2 and carry out some field trials. Please stay tuned for a follow up blog highlighting the results of the project.

Plastic-eating enzyme discovered from Fungi

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As recently reported by Kew Gardens in their first ever State of the World’s Fungi report, one species of fungi has been discovered that can break down polyester polyurethane.  The fungi was discovered in a waste dump in Pakistan by researchers.

plastic eating fungus discovered in waste dump in Pakistan

The fungus – Aspergillus tubingensis – degrades plastic by feeding on it. In lab experiments, Aspergillus tubingensis mycelia, or the branched, tubular filaments of the fungus, seize the

polyester polyurethane plastic, engendering a breakdown and scarring of the plastic’s surface.

The specific plastic that the fungus ate was polyester polyurethane (PU), which is found in products ranging from fridges to synthetic leather.  The time to degrade the plastic was eight weeks.

Researchers hailed the discovery as significant, since PU and other plastics can take decades or even hundreds of years to biodegrade, making them potentially harmful to the surrounding environment.

Dr. Sehroon Khan, of the World Agroforestry Centre and Kunming Institute of Biology, who led the Environmental Pollution study, stated, “Our team’s next goal is to determine the ideal conditions for fungal growth and plastic degradation, looking at factors such as pH levels, temperature and culture mediums.”

The team found that — though this testing is still in early stages — following two months in a liquid medium, Aspergillus tubingensis had degraded a sheet of polyester polyurethane to the point of near-dissipation. It degenerated the polyurethane better under these conditions than on an agar plate and when buried in soil.

According to the study abstract, “Notably, after two months in liquid medium, the PU film was totally degraded into smaller pieces.”

Organisms have fed on plastic waste in prior instances, so this particular finding in the Pakistani landfill site is not the first.  This new result goes alongside the accidental discovery of a plastic-eating enzyme by scientists earlier this year when two professors inadvertently altered the enzyme PETease to be better at plastic degrading.

 

 

Polystyrene Recycling Facility to be built in the U.S.A.

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Agilyx, an Oregon-based company specializing in converting waste plastics to low carbon fuels and chemicalsrecently announced that it signed a Letter of Intent with AmSty, a leading producer of polystyrene and styrene monomer. The Companies intend to form a joint venture that will assume operations of Agilyx’s first-in-kind polystyrene recycling facility in Tigard, Oregon, and to pursue the development of a 50 ton per day polystyrene recycling facility at a location to be determined. 

Last August AmSty and Agilyx announced an offtake agreement to process recycled styrene monomer from Agilyx’s Tigard, Oregon, facility at AmSty’s styrene monomer plant in St. James, Louisiana. “We are excited to work with Agilyx, a leading developer of recycling technologies for plastics, as we continue to improve our PolyUsable™ process assuring polystyrene remains a viable and growing component of the circular economy,” said Brad Crocker, President and CEO of AmSty.

“Agilyx is very excited to expand our relationship with AmSty,” said Joe Vaillancourt, Agilyx’s chief executive officer. “This joint venture will greatly advance the circular economy for post-consumer polystyrene waste and reflects the confidence and support by industry for our technology platform.”

What is Polystyrene?

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), commonly referred to as polystyrene, is a type 6 plastic that is also known as the trademarked brand Styrofoam.  It is used in in food and beverage packaging (i.e., coffee cups), insulation, and for protection of materials during shipping.  It has very low density as it is over 95 percent air.

Although 100% recyclable, EPS’s low density means transporting any quantity of it for recycling proves prohibitively expensive.

The Technology

The Agilyx process converts used polystyrene products back into their original liquid form, styrene monomer.  Thermal depolymerization or pyrolysis the polystyrene is a major step in the process.  New polystyrene products can then be made from this recycled styrene monomer without any degradation of quality or value. The company holds several patents for both its technology and processes, and have additional patents pending.

Agilyx opened its first commercial waste polystyrene-to-styrene oil chemical recycling plant on April 19, 2018. The plant recycles up to 10 tonnes per day of previously unrecoverable polystyrene waste to produce high-quality styrenic polymers.

Agilyx Commercial Scale System in Oregon

About AmSty
AmSty is a leading integrated producer of polystyrene and styrene monomer, offering solutions and services to customers in a variety of markets throughout the Americas. The company is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, and is a member of the American Chemistry Council and its Responsible Care initiative.

About Agilyx
Agilyx is an environmental technology and development company located in Tigard, Oregon, that extracts value from difficult-to-recycle mixed waste plastic streams. The Company has developed the first system capable of recycling polystyrene waste into styrene monomer, which is then used to remake polystyrene (“PS”). The Company also has commercialized a technology that converts mixed plastics to high quality VGO crude. These efforts have allowed the Company to expand its product platform into a range of customized low carbon fuels and chemicals. Agilyx has also expanded its circular plastic recycling capabilities, implementing a method for manufacturing feedstocks used for the production of polymers. Agilyx is working with waste service providers, municipalities, refiners, and private and public enterprises to develop closed-loop industrial solutions for mixed waste plastics. Contact us to have your plastic waste streams recycled at info@agilyx.com. For more information, follow us on social media and visit us at www.agilyx.com.

Canadian Electronics Makers at Risk with e-Waste Exports

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by Jonathan Cocker, Partner at Baker McKenzie

“Canada continues to allow exports of hazardous e-waste to flow to developing countries (in this case, China and Pakistan)… These are all likely to be illegal.”
Export of e-Waste from Canada, October 10th, 2018, Basel Action Network

The release of this report by the Basel Action Network, subtitled A Story as Told by GPS Trackers, has thrown a veritable thunderbolt into the midst of the waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling industry in Canada (and beyond as these issues are not unique to any one country). Not only are current stakeholders engaging in the continued export of toxic materials to unlicensed (and unregulated) locations in developing countries, but these exports may well violate one or more laws, including national laws adopting the original Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

e-Waste Monopolies and the Limits of Due Diligence
A question arises as to how manufacturers of electronics could allow their products and their industry representatives to engage in these exports long after the harmful environmental and societal impacts of such exports have come to light and addressed through international agreements. The answer lies in their proximity to the compliance activities undertaken on their behalf. In Canada, the makers of electronics are mandated to participate in a single government-approved WEEE recycling organization in each province. Decisions around this reverse supply chain are simply too remote to many in the electronics industry.

More importantly, there is too little incentive for the government designate to rigorously oversee the end-of-life compliance of the waste they transfer, as painfully demonstrated by the Export of e-Waste from Canada Basel Ban report. Instead, the organizations can rest upon the recycler qualifications and standards as due diligence and blame the bad apples when these scandals come to light. Their compliance mandate can be viewed as essentially process, not results, driven and they have little organizational risk, as the monopoly party, in whatever mischief happens thereafter. Equally, individual electronics manufacturers aren’t invested in the environmental outcomes as they are not at risk. It’s no coincidence that the report itself does not name one electronics company as culpable.

Electronics Industry Facing Coming Individual Producer Responsibility
Ironically, it is the Canadian e-Waste government designates which will lose their monopoly positions in the marketplace under the coming individual producer responsibility model (IPR) for many waste streams, including electronics. Under IPR, it will be individual producers who will assume direct responsibility for the proper resource recovery of the electronics they place on the market. These electronics companies will retain the liability for outcomes such as illegal shipments to:

“an area well documented as being a global e-waste trafficking and smuggling hub.”

The risks to the electronics industry participants become real, both regulatory and reputational, truly motivating them to ensure that their oversight role doesn’t end at a qualification program, in the same way that international brands in many other industries are increasingly scrutinizing their (front end) supply chains. Canada’s Province of Ontario will have IPR for e-Waste in 2020.

Small(er) Is Beautiful in Managing e-Waste
To conduct this kind of effective auditing and verification, electronics makers will want to stay closer to their reverse supply chains (and potentially lucrative secondary markets) through individual or smaller, market-segmented groups to best structure reverse supply chains which meet their individual or group needs. Leaving it in the hands of a single monolith entity acting on behalf of a myriad of parties, from manufacturers to retailers and everyone in between, across the broad spectrum of waste-relegated electronics and electrical equipment, will continue to prove ineffective in ensuring e-Waste compliance. It will be up to the producers themselves to finally bring these e-Waste exports to a permanent halt.

This article was originally published on the Baker McKenzie website.

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About the Author

Jonathan D. Cocker heads the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of its Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining & Infrastructure groups. He participated in founding one of North America’s first circular economy producer responsibility organizations. Jonathan 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 most recently the author of the first edition of The Environment and Climate Change Law Review (Canada chapter) and the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Chemicals chapter).

Toronto Wins by Turning Waste into Renewable Natural Gas

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by City of Toronto Staff

City of Toronto recently won a 2018 Energy Vision Leadership Award for its innovative renewable natural gas project.

The City, in partnership with Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., will begin installing new equipment at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility in 2018. The new technology will allow the City and Enbridge to transform the raw biogas produced – from processing Toronto’s Green Bin organics – into renewable natural gas (RNG) and inject that gas into the natural gas grid. Once in the grid, the City will be able to use the RNG to fuel its collection trucks.

This project is one of the first of its kind in Canada and North America and will allow the City to reduce fuel costs for its fleet of collection trucks and significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Current estimates suggest that the Dufferin RNG facility will produce approximately 5.3 million cubic metres of RNG per year – enough to power 132 heavy duty garbage trucks, about 90 per cent of the City’s solid waste collection fleet.

The project supports the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy and move toward a circular economy by using a closed-loop approach where organics collection trucks are ultimately powered by the waste product they collect.

This is the first of four waste-to-RNG production opportunities identified by the City.

Circular model showing how waste can ultimately be used to create green energy.

Toronto’s Path to RNG

The City of Toronto’s existing and closed landfill sites and anaerobic digestion (organics processing) facilities are some of the largest producers of biogas and landfill gas in Ontario. Over the last few years, the City’s has been looking for opportunities to harness the green energy potential of these gases and identified renewable natural gas (RNG) as a top priority for biogas management.

The City has been transitioning from diesel-powered trucks to quieter and more environmentally friendly natural-gas-powered trucks since 2010, when the first small-scale pilot hit the road. To support the move away from diesel, the City also constructed a number of natural gas fuelling stations.

After identifying RNG as a priority, the City began searching for technologies and partnerships to upgrade its biogas and landfill gas to RNG. When looking at the different technologies and options for upgrading and transporting biogas, the City took a triple bottom line approach that considered the economic, social and environmental benefits.

Through multiple studies, the City identified RNG production opportunities at four locations: its two anaerobic digestion (organics processing) facilities (Dufferin and Disco Road) and two of its landfill sites. The first site to get new equipment to upgrade its biogas to RNG is the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility.

Once all four RNG sites are up and running, estimates suggest that the City will be able to produce approximately 65 million cubic metres of RNG per year – the equivalent in greenhouse gas emission reductions of taking 35,000 cars off the road for a year.

Biogas Upgrading

Both biogas and landfill gas can be upgraded to create RNG. The biogas produced through anaerobic digestion is made up primarily of methane, but also includes carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, water, sulphur, and various non-methane organic compounds.

Biogas upgrading involves purifying the gas to remove carbon dioxide and other contaminants. The result is a gas that is more than 90 per cent methane and can be injected directly into natural gas pipelines. The RNG can then be transported to the City’s natural gas fueling stations and used to fuel its trucks.

Biogas at the City’s anaerobic digestion facilities is currently flared (burned), which is common industry practice for managing biogas, but does not take advantage of its renewable energy potential.

Inside of the Toronto Dufferin Source Separated Organics Management Facility (Photo Credit: CCI Bioenergy)

The Benefits of RNG

While chemically identical to traditional natural gas, RNG is a renewable resource that can be produced using materials that are readily accessible through the City’s Green Bin organics program.

RNG is also less expensive and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels such as diesel. Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, it can be used to fuel vehicles or provide electricity or heat to homes and businesses.

RNG generated from food waste is actually considered carbon negative, because the reduction in emissions by not extracting and burning petroleum-based fuel, and the emissions avoided by not sending organics to landfill, exceed the direct emissions associated with the production and use of RNG.

Global E-waste Disposal Market Status and Outlook 2018-2025

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Orbis Research, a market research company, recently published an updated report on the global e-waste Recycling market.  This report provides detailed historical analysis of global market for E-waste Recycling from 2013-2018, and provides extensive market forecasts from 2018-2028 by region/country and subsectors. It covers the sales volume, price, revenue, gross margin, historical growth and future perspectives in the E-waste Recycling market.

Included in the report is a profile of the leading players of e-waste recycling including Sims Recycling Solutions,
Eletronic Recyclers International, GEEP, Waste Management, and Veolia.

The report describes the market into sub-sectors by type of equipment (infocomm technology (ICT) equipment and home appliances, and other types of equipment), by application (i.e., refrigerators, televisions, computers, etc.) and by sales channel (direct vs. distribution).

In the report, there is information on e-waste recycling in various regions and countries including North America,
Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, and the Middle East & Africa.

Nigerian e-waste recycling facility

Previous Global E-Waste Management Market reports performed by competing market research companies predicted that the global e-waste recycling market to be worth $49.4 billion by 2020. It is one of the fastest growing waste streams in emerging as well as developed regions.

Another market research company, Grand View Research, Inc., issued a global e-waste market report in the summer of 2018 which forecast h 63.705 million tonnes  of e-waste would be recycled by 2025.  The Grand View Research report warned that the high costs associated with e-waste recycling is expected to hinder the market growth. The report also stated that  the procurement of high-end machinery to effectively recycle the scrap coupled with instructing the workers about the meticulous execution of every step remain to be the major hurdles in the growth of the e-waste management market. However, the report was optimistic that the e-waste recycling market would continue to grow as the awareness about the hazardous effects of e-waste on human health along with strict regulations concerning the generation and treatment of e-waste in a majority of countries are expected to reduce the effect of the challenges.