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.

Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles? Not So Fast…..

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

In the Ontario Environment Ministry’s Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities Discussion Paper, the question was posed:

What additional materials do you think should be managed through producer responsibility to maximize diversion?

Stakeholders from across the used textile collection sector highlighted textiles as being a potential candidate for extended producer responsibility (EPR).

Given the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of used textiles being generated annually, it seems only logical that producers should be tasked with the physical and financial responsibility for managing these items at their end of life.   

However, when the university was asked to take a position supporting a producer responsibility scheme for textiles, I hesitated.

I want to preface this by saying that I feel that producer responsibility has a place in promoting a circular economy – In theory,  EPR is supposed to encourage design for the environment (have producers use more sustainable materials), promote positive environmental outcomes (increased diversion), and contain costs (incentive to minimize costs associated with end of life management).

Would EPR for textiles achieve these desired outcomes?

Before answering this, let’s remember what EPR is actually designed to do –  EPR is a cost recovery tool to finance the operational and administrative expenses associated with managing a material at its end of life.

Steward fees (what industry pays to finance a producer responsibility program) is based on net cost of material management. As an example, the fees associated with Blue Box materials are in direct proportion to the system costs attributable to said material. For packaging like plastics film and polystyrene, producers pay an extremely high steward “fee” because the net cost of material management is in excess of $1500 a tonne. Conversely, aluminum producers do not pay any fees, as they have a negative net cost (the revenue received supersedes the cost of material management).

Why this matters for textiles is that at present, net cost of material management for textiles is negative. Due to the high value of used textiles as a commodity, numerous organizations from across the for profit/not for profit sector collect used textiles, using a range of collection mediums.

Textiles, unlike most other waste streams, are being collected by third party operators, even in the absence of material specific legislation. The value of used textiles results in a self-sustaining collection network that ultimately negates the need for cost recovery schemes such as extended producer responsibility.

There is even an argument to be made that the low diversion rates for textiles is attributable to a lack of opportunity and awareness among households (as opposed to a lack of organizations willing to collect the material).

At present, there are no *net* costs to recover for used textile collectors, and EPR becomes moot.

Where this situation may change is in situations where used textile collectors begins to incur operational expenses that exceed the revenue that they receive from the material. This could be attributable to any number of things – management of low grade materials that have minimal value at end of life, a decrease in commodity value (due to either increasing supply of used textiles, or decreases in demand), and the development of domestic processing/recycling capacity that require infrastructural investments.  In these instances, EPR could be seen as a potential cost recovery tool.

Practical challenges to implementing a producer responsibility scheme for textiles

If EPR is adopted at a provincial (or national) scale, we must be cognizant of the enormous administrative challenges of developing such a program. The creation of an IFO/ISP, calculating and collecting fees, disbursing fees to service providers etc. are all necessary steps when developing a producer responsibility program.

Furthermore, the technical challenges of being able to readily quantify end of life material management costs, and then allocating those costs to specific stewards will require a fundamental overhaul in how we collect and interpret data related to textile generation/recovery. Of note, all EPR programs differentiate fees based on product or material type (i.e. a fee for a television is greater than the fee for a cell phone because of the differences in end of life management costs). This process would need to be replicated for all textile types being sold into the market in order to correctly allocate costs.

Simply put, formal programs for textile diversion are in their infancy, and we are still a long way from having the understanding to conceptualize what a producer responsibility scheme might look like. To provide context, Ontario’s Blue Box, which has had a (partial) producer responsibility scheme for the better part of two decades, continues to struggle with how to reconcile the opposing interests of both stewards and municipalities. It is a highly contentious process that is fraught with difficulty as stakeholders try to determine what is fair and reasonable.

Be careful what you wish for

While most stakeholders involved in used textile collection advocate for EPR, it is important to keep in mind that under a 100% EPR model, stewards will assume ownership of all recovered materials. While yes, they will be physically and financially responsible for all end of life material, they will also be entitled to the revenue received from the sale of that material.  

At present, it is unclear what the implications of a 100% producer responsibility model would be for used textile collectors, particularly in the charitable/not for profit space. Stewards may ultimately decide to rely on the existing collection networks in place (as opposed to doing it themselves), and designate certain organizations as a preferred service provider. It is entirely possible that charities/not for profits would then compete with other collectors to be a service provider, essentially reverting to a “bid/tender” process.

What should we do?

While the future of textile legislation, and what role EPR should play remains unclear, the key to developing a sustainable, circular textile market lies in flexible, non-prescriptive legislation. A necessary first step is to designate textiles as a priority material, but leave it up to the market to organically develop solutions to keep material out of landfill, and maximize the economic, environmental and social impact of recovery. Rapid changes in textile end markets, the types and quantities of textiles being generated, and technologies to recycle/reprocess textiles requires legislation that can grow and adapt to reflect the conditions of an evolving market place.

Note: This article reflects the sole opinion of the author. He does not speak on behalf of the university or any of its stakeholders.


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

Motor Oil Recycling: Barriers and Breakthroughs

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Written by Zachary Gray, B.Eng.Biosci., Chemical Engineering & Bioengineering

Motor oil changes are a sacrament in our car-obsessed modern life, while the mechanics working in the auto shops are their enforcers and evangelizers.  Every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometres, car owners begrudgingly schedule an oil change between busy work days and weekend errands.  

Primer of Motor Oil

During the 20-minute oil-change procedure, mechanics bleed the blackened, viscous motor oil from the bowels of the engine and replace it with pristine liquids from bright plastic packaging – eye-catching to some, but a far cry from the painted metal containers that furnish collector’s shelves.

Vintage Motor Oil Can, $31 (USD) on ebay

While the myriad of car oil brands available might suggest a wide variance in products, they differ only in the precise mixing of additives.  Motor lubricant is essentially 70-80% base oil with the remaining 20-30% consisting of supplements such as antioxidants, detergents, and viscosity enhancers, as well as rust inhibitors.

The quality of the motor oil degrades over time in a motor vehicle.  The build-up of debris blackens the oil, while the additive properties deteriorate over the driving cycle, dissipating heat and lubricating contact points between metal parts with less efficiency as time marches onward.  Water entrainment and oxidation of the base oil are also contributing factors.  

Changing one’s motor oil frequently, as the chorus drones on, ensures the longevity of the engine. One question remains as the mechanics dispense with the last of the used oil: what happens to it afterward?   Nothing much is often the answer. 

Motor Oil Re-refining

There are over 300 million registered vehicles in Canada and the United States alone, contributing to the nearly 2.5 billion gallons of motor oil disposed of annually throughout North America.  Of the almost 60% recovered, a mere 8% is recycled. The remainder feeds the 12 billion of gallons of lubricant reduced to toxic waste yearly.

Catastrophizing about the volumes quoted and their impact is not productive in and of itself.  Exploring ways to improve oil recycling figures is a better use of time.

In 2009, when the revered Scientific American explored whether motor oil could be recycled, the editors profiled Universal Lubricants (“UL”).  The Wichita-based company uses conventional refining techniques from upgrading crude oil when recovering the spent lubricant.  They essentially re-refine the used motor oil

UL processes over 45.4 million litres of used motor oil, or 28,600 barrels, per day.  In the re-refining process, used oil passes through a vacuum distillation unit which removes water from the base oil, accounting for 5-7% of the incoming volume. Next, contaminants are removed using an evaporation press.  In the final step, UL hydrotreats the decontaminated oil. 

Hydrotreating consists of applying high temperature and pressure (700 deg-F and 1,100 PSI) and enriching the carbon-backbone of the oil with hydrogen molecules in the presence of catalysts that aid in the chemical reactions. 

The final product resembles base oil, ready for lubricant merchants to add their additive concoctions and branding power.

Photo Credit: UL

Re-refining efforts, much like those by UL, accounts for only 10 percent of used oil management market.  The majority of used motor oil is either burned or dumped, depending on the jurisdiction and level of enforcement.  The emergence of re-refining technologies has done little in altering the outcome for spent motor oil — but why?

Barriers to Recycling

There are two main barriers to a broader adaptation of re-refining used motor oil.  The first is the capital expense in building and operating a facility on UL’s scale.  Investors should expect a final bill of tens of millions of dollars in replicating UL’s plant in Canada.  Recovering their investment is another issue: refineries derive their profits either from large volumes, amplifying small gains per unit of measurement, or upgrading cheaper base stocks.  With respect to the latter point, one could argue that the used motor oil would be a commodity instead of merely a waste product with broader market adaptation.  Such a classification diminishes the facility’s economic viability.

The second barrier to re-refining is the plant’s environmental impact.  A re-refiner has a similar environmental impact as an oil refinery.  To understand how difficult it is to get environmental approval for an oil refinery, one need to realize that the newest oil refinery in Canada is over 30 years old.

Canadian Innovation

Besides re-refining, there are innovative and arguably more feasible solutions for recycling motor oil in development.  The Ottawa-based MemPore Environmental Technologies Inc. (“MemPore”) is one such example, scaling their locally-minded, membrane-based process.

MemPore’s solution is this: the used motor oil is kept in 5,000-gallon settling tanks and periodically shipped to their regionally-based operation.  The central locations reduce the amount of pollution from transporting oil over longer distances and eases logistical challenges.  After removing contaminants during the pretreatment process, consisting of a filter, centrifuge, and flash evaporators, the oil is sent to the membrane unit.  Once polished to a quality consistent with a regular base oil, lubricant mixers take the final product and infuse it with their additives.

Cement kilns take the waste sludge separated by the membrane. The 15 metric tonnes, or 148 barrels, per day system operates at low temperatures and pressures, thus reducing its running costs and environmental impact.

Mempore Used Oil Recycling System

Alastair Samson, MemPore’s CEO, eloquently summarizes the company’s position and value proposition:

“The MemPore System can, for the first time, recover and recycle this base oil with 71% reduction in pollution, from localized systems, using low energy, and at low capital and operating cost. This is an important contribution to the clean technology movement and the preservation of earth’s natural resources.”

MemPore’s community-centric and scalable solution, with the potential for handsome profit margins, offers a tangible solution to the endemic squandering of used motor oil.  They also provide the mechanics a new hymn during drivers’ reluctant excursion to the auto body shop.

Enviro-Corp Recycling to recycle glass from the Town of Innisfail, Alberta

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The Town of Innisfail, a municipality of 7,000 in central Alberta, recently came to a glass recycling agreement with a British Columbia based company, Enviro-Corp Recycling.

Under the agreement, the town will pay Enviro-Corp $65 per tonne to recycle glass that residents drop off at the municipal transfer station.

At its regular meeting on April 11th, the town council voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Enviro-Corp Recycling to handle glass recycling needs.

Enviro-Corp Recycling is headquartered in British Columbia. It has been in business since 2008. The company recycles glass beverage containers for use in the glass bottle manufacturing industry.

The Enviro-Corp Recycling process includes color sorting, crushing and sizing as well as removing labels, aluminum and metal from the containers. The glass that leaves Enviro-Corp’s facility is furnace ready and needs no further processing before being melted down and made into new glass bottles.

Enviro-Grit made from recycled glass

Enviro-Corp Recycling is a division of United Concrete & Gravel Ltd, a company that began in 1977.

One of the products generated by Enviro-Corp Recycling is enviro-grit abrasives. This blasting abrasive is 100% crystalline silica-free and made from recycled glass. It is used for removing rust and most coatings on the surfaces of a variety of materials.

Heather Whymark, the town’s Director of Corporate Services, had been looking into finding a company to do glass recycling. Under the glass recycling agreement, Enviro-Corp Recycling will charge the Town $65 per tonne to recycle the glass. Currently, it is costing the Town $125 per tonne to dispose in a landfill.

As for the impact the new service will have on the town budget, Whymark said because the glass recycling cost, $65 per tonne, is half the $125 cost for waste removal, the town should be able to break even, at least in the first year.

At this point, the town considers the glass recycling arrangement to be a pilot project and its success will depend on the uptake by residents to dropping off glass for recycling at the town’s transfer station.

For Enviro-Corp, the Town of Innisfail situation between Calgary and Edmonton – two municipalities that they currently pick up glass for recycling.

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. 

 

B.C. Municipality rewards community groups for waste reduction initiatives

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The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), located on the southern mainland coast, across Georgia Strait from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, has been holding a competition since 2015 as a means of encouraging waste reduction.

The annual contest is open to Sunshine Coast based community groups and associations, non-profit societies, registered charitable organizations, and school groups that will reduce waste in the region.

The program has a total of $5,000 available for financial assistance on winning projects.

Project applications must include a plan for measuring and reporting the amount of waste diverted from the landfill. The Waste Reduction Initiatives Program was introduced to support the initiatives of the SCRD’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

Project categories considered for the Waste Reduction Initiatives Program (WRIP) include:

  • Community reuse and repair
  • Composting
  • Construction and demolition waste reduction, reuse and recycling
  • Food waste reduction
  • Green waste reduction
  • Recycling initiatives

In 2018, Serendipity Child Care received funding under the contest. The funding received through WRIP was used by the organization educating children and families on composting and waste reduction.

In 2017, six organizations received funding for projects as part of the Waste Reduction Initiatives Program (WRIP).

  • North Thormanby Community Association – Implementation of a community composting program
  • Roberts Creek Community School – A community composter project in partnership with local businesses.
  • St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church – An on-site composting program for the food bank and nearby organizations.
  • Sunshine Coast Repair Café – Launch of monthly repair cafés to Sechelt and Pender Harbour (currently monthly in Gibsons)
  • West Sechelt Elementary – Launch of a school composting program
  • West Howe Sound Community Association – Expansion of the association’s mobile community composting initiative.
Representatives from Organizations that received funding as part of the SCRD’s WRIP in 2017 (Photo Credit: SCRD)

Applications for WRIP opened on Monday April 15, 2019 and all applications must be received by midnight on Friday, May 24, 2019. Successful applicants will be announced in June. Projects must be completed, including a final report, by December 31, 2019.

Fun with Waste: Feasting on Food Waste

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According to a report prepared by Second Harvest, approximately 60% of food waste is wasted. On an annual basis, this adds up to 35.5 million tonnes. Of that total the Second Harvest report estimates that 32% is edible food that could be redirected to support people in Canadian communities. The total financial value of this potentially rescuable lost and wasted food is a staggering $49.46 billion.

To raise awareness of the amount of food wasted in Canada that is actually edible, the Culinary Historians of Canada recently hosted an event at the George Brown College Hospitality and Tourism Campus called Food Waste – Past and Present in which patrons were able to Feast on Food Waste. Tickets for the event was $15.

Besides feasting of food waste, patrons learned about the history of food waste in Canada from Magdaline Dontsos, former faculty of the Food and Nutrition program at Centennial College as well as a member of the Ontario Society of Nutrition Management and the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management. Part of the discussion included an examination of the modern-day adjustments that could be made to make food production more sustainable.

The Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC) is an organization that researches, interprets, preserves and celebrates Canada’s culinary heritage, which has been shaped by the food traditions of the First Nations peoples and generations of immigrants from all parts of the world. Through programmes, events and publications, CHC educates its members and the public about the foods and beverages of Canada’s past. 

Wood ash recycling program could help save Muskoka’s forests and lakes

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Written by James A. Donaldson, Canadian Wood Waste Recycling Business Group

Implementing a new residential wood ash program in Muskoka, Ont., to restore calcium levels in its forest soils and lakes could help replenish the area’s dwindling supply of crayfish and maple sap, according to new research co-led by York University.

Calcium levels in soil and lakes are essential for the growth of all forms of life, but the levels across central Ontario are declining due to decades of acid rain. It could take centuries for this calcium to rebuild on its own.

Researchers discovered that residential wood ash – a common household waste derived from wood-burning fireplaces and wood-fired ovens – was rich with the nutrients needed for restoring growth, including about 30 per cent calcium.

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The study, published on March 28th, 2019 in the journal FACETS, shows that adding controlled doses of cold residential wood ash to the watershed of Muskoka’s forests could help solve the calcium decline problem and boost forest growth.

“Calcium is an essential nutrient for all living things,” said Norman Yan, a senior scholar and professor emeritus of biology in the Faculty of Science, who co-led the study. “When you suffer from low calcium, you get osteoporosis and the ecosystem can suffer from osteoporosis as well. Many scientists have called this calcium decline problem ecological osteoporosis.”

Supplementing watershed soils with calcium-rich wood ash may also improve the region’s crayfish stock, water quality, seedling regeneration and sugar maple tree production of sap, used to make maple syrup.

“Lack of calcium has slowed the growth, reproduction and development of trees in Muskoka’s forests,” said Yan, Chair of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, a not-for-profit environmental organization that has conducted the research with York University, Dorset Environmental Science Centre and Queen’s University.

While forest programs using industrial wood ash exist in areas of Europe such as Sweden, the use of the non-industrial residential wood ash has not been researched and tested until now, said the study co-author Shakira Azan, a former postdoctoral biology student and research associate at York University.

“A lot of people in Muskoka burn wood for heat and some send it to the landfill so, by collecting and recycling their wood ash, we are diverting waste from landfills,” said Azan, an environmental project lead at Friends of the Muskoka Watershed.

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The second phase of the research is AshMuskoka, a three-year pilot project that aims to be Canada’s first residential wood ash recycling program. The project team, which launched in January, is working on securing 200 homeowners to donate their wood ash. This fall, researchers will conduct small-scale wood ash additions to test dosage needs, develop tools to identify site-specific doses, and determine the benefits and harm of residential wood ash applications. The first test site will be three sugar bushes in Muskoka, where maple syrup producers are eager to see if the controlled doses will restore the bushes to good health and yield maple sap.

Friends of the Muskoka Watershed is working on the project with nine Canadian partners, including Trent University, the University of Victoria, Laurentian University, the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, and York University’s Learning for a Sustainable Future.

About the Author

Jim A. Donaldson is the founder and CEO of Canadian Wood Waste Recycling Business Group, Canada’s leading Wood recycling, industry resource management business group. The organization brings the elite like-minded Canadian and International people, business, academia and government together to develop the “Canadian Wood recycling, Bioeconomy” as a viable eco-sustainable industry.

Jim is also the owner of Waste Reduction & Recycling Consultants Inc., a firm founded in 2009 to facilitate the emerging need by large and small corporations to outsource their environmental Waste management business requirements. Waste Reduction & Recycling Consultants is a multidisciplinary Environmental waste management consulting firm that specializes in providing a full array of environmental administrative Waste management advice AND project-specific Environmental waste management services.