Europe Announces ban of Single Use Plastics and Extends Extended Producer Responsibility Programs

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The European Parliament recently agreed on the ambitious measures proposed by the European Commission to ban selected single-use products made of plastic as well as introduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) for new products.

The new rules are an attempt to lesson marine pollution by plastic and abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics.

Once the rules are in place, cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons that are made of plastic will be banned in the European Union (EU).

The new rules also ban cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic. Oxo-degradable plastics are made of petroleum-based polymers(usually polyethylene (PE)) that contain additives (usually metal salts), which accelerate their degradation when exposed to heat and/or light. The argument for banning oxo-degradable plastics is that they are similar to conventional plasticmaterials but have artificial additives. They do not actually biodegrade but merely fragment into small pieces and potentially harm the environment and endanger recycling and composting operations.


While often confused with biodegradable plastics, oxo-degradables are a category unto themselves. They are neither a bioplastic nor a biodegradable plastic, but rather a conventional plastic mixed with an additive in order to imitate biodegredation.

The new rules include EPR schemes for cigarette filters and fishing gear.
Producers of cigarettes with filters (the filters are not biodegradable) will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up. Producers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection from port reception facilities and its transport and treatment. They will also cover the costs of awareness-raising measures.  Producers will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products

Single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached. Also, the diversion target for plastic bottles was set at 90% by 2025. One method to achieve the high diversion rate is deposit refund schemes.

The rules on Single-Use Plastics items and fishing gear, addressing the ten most found items on EU beaches place the EU at the forefront of the global fight against marine litter. They are part of the EU Plastics Strategy – the most comprehensive strategy in the world adopting a material-specific lifecycle approach with the vision and objectives to have all plastic packaging placed on the EU market as reusable or recyclable by 2030. The Single-Use Plastics Directive adopted by the European Parliament today is an essential element of the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan as it stimulates the production and use of sustainable alternatives that avoid marine litter.

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, added: “Once implemented, the new rules will not only prevent plastic pollution, but also make the European Union the world leader in a more sustainable plastic policy. The European Parliament has played an essential role in laying the foundation for this transformation and in giving a chance to the industry to innovate, thus driving forward our circular economy.”

The Single-Use Plastics Directive voted on by the European Parliament today tackles directly marine litter thanks to a set of ambitious measures:

  • A ban on selected single-use products made of plastic for which alternatives exist on the market: cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
  • Measures to reduce consumption of food containers and beverage cups made of plastic and specific marking and labelling of certain products.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility schemes covering the cost to clean-up litter, applied to products such as tobacco filters and fishing gear.
  • A 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025) and the introduction of design requirements to connect caps to bottles, as well as target to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles as from 2025 and 30% in all plastic bottles as from 2030.

The proposed Directive follows a similar approach to the successful 2015 Plastic Bags Directive, which brought about a rapid shift in consumer behavior. The EU claims that , when implemented, the new measures will bring about both environmental and economic benefits. The economic benefits claimed by the new rule implementation include €22 billion in avoidance of environmental damage by 2030 and €6.5 billion to consumers in savings in the form of reduced waste treatment by public authorities.

Next steps

Following this approval by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers will finalise the formal adoption. This endorsement will be followed by the publication of the texts in the Official Journal of the Union. The Member States will then have two years to transpose the legislation into their national law.

Consultations begin on Ontario Electronic Stewardship’s Wind-Up Plan

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The Ontario Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) is consulting with stakeholders and the public on Ontario Electronic Stewardship’s (OES) Wind-Up Plan for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Program. Public comment on the 85-page OES Wind up Plan will be accepted by the RPRA until April 18th.

Background on the Ontario Electronic Stewardship

Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) is an Industry Funding Organization (IFO) designated to operate the waste diversion program for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) under the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 (WDTA). Since its inception in 2009, the WEEE program has diverted over 67 million electronic devices or over 500,000 tonnes of waste electronics from Ontario landfills. The WEEE program promotes the re-use and refurbishment of waste electronics and ensures that the valuable resources found in waste electronics, that cannot be re-used, are processed and recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.

Why is OES being wound up?

In 2016 the Ontario legislature passed the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (RRCEA) which creates a new legislative framework for managing waste in Ontario. Current waste diversion programs and related IFOs, such as Ontario Electronic Stewardship, will be wound up subject to provisions under the WDTA. Under the RRCEA, producers will be responsible for the implementation of new waste diversion programs that must meet recycling targets and objectives established under that Act.

Under the WDTA wind up process IFOs are required to develop wind up plans in accordance with specified statutory requirements once directed to do so by the Minister. Subsection 14 (13) of the WDTA requires IFOs to consult with stewards, municipalities and other stakeholders affected by termination of the program in developing wind up plans. IFOs submit wind up plans to the Resource Recovery and Productivity Authority (RPRA) which reviews and approves the plan if it is consistent with the Minister’s direction and statutory requirements.

In February 2018, OES received direction from the former Minister of Environment and Climate Change to wind up the WEEE program by June 30, 2020. (Note: In July 2018 the Honourable Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, assumed responsibility for administering the RRCEA and WDTA statutes.)

What’s Next in Ontario with respect to WEEE?

After wind up, electrical and electronic equipment will be managed under a new, mandatory individual producer responsibility (IPR) framework. This means that producers of electrical and electronic equipment will be responsible for ensuring their products and packaging are collected and reused or recycled at end-of-life. The RPRA is mandated by the Government of Ontario to oversee the wind up of Ontario’s current waste diversion programs and enforce IPR requirements.

Public Information and Feedback Sessions

The RPRA is hosting several sessions to present key elements of the plan for feedback and to answer any questions you may have. The sessions are open to all WEEE Program participants, municipalities, the public and other interested stakeholders.

The RPRA is encouraging all interested organizations and persons to attend to learn more about the wind-up, the new framework for electrical and electronic equipment.

The sessions consist of a presentation that will explore key aspects of OES’s proposed wind-up plan and there will be time for your questions. The Authority will also consult on OES’s revised projection for program surplus, which is based on information that was not available at the time of OES’s consultations.

The schedule for public consultations can be found in the table below.

LocationDate and TimeRegistration
WebinarThursday, March 21
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Register here
LondonFriday, March 22
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Register here
Ottawa (Kanata)Wednesday, April 3
9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Register here
North BayThursday, April 4
9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Register here
TorontoTuesday, April 9
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Register here
WebinarWednesday, April 10
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Register here

Feedback on the Wind-Up Plan is due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18. You can provide feedback via email to consultations@rpra.ca.

Using biosolids to revegetate inactive mine tailings

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Vale Canada (a global mining company with an integrated mine, mill, smelter, and refinery complex in operations Sudbury, Ontario) has been working with Terrapure Environmental (an industrial waste management company) to utilize biosolids on its main tailings area.

For over 100 years, tailings from the milling operation have been deposited in the Copper Cliff Central Tailings impoundment. The facility is still active, but approximately 1,300 hectares are inactive and need reclamation work.


The Big Nickel in Sudbury (Photo Credit: pizzodisevo)

Over the decades, Vale has had some success in revegetation of its tailings area, but there are still large areas of bare or sparsely vegetated tailings, which have led to wind-erosion-management challenges. To control dust, Vale uses agricultural equipment to cover the tailings with straw or hay, as well as a chemical dust suppressant. These practices are costly, and they have to be done continuously to maintain an appropriate cover at all times. In 2012, Vale decided its tailings needed a permanent vegetative cover—not just to suppress dust and reduce erosion, but to improve overall biodiversity. They entered into discussions with Terrapure Organics Solutions (formerly Terratec Environmental) to collaborate on a trial project to apply biosolids on the mine tailings.

In 2012, Vale decided its tailings needed a permanent vegetative cover—not just to suppress dust and reduce erosion, but to improve overall biodiversity. They entered into discussions with Terrapure Organics Solutions (formerly Terratec Environmental) to collaborate on a trial project to apply biosolids on the mine tailings.

THE CHALLENGE

The biggest challenge was forging a new path for this type of work. Applying biosolids to mine tailings had never been done before in Ontario. Just to get the right permits and approvals took about two years. Vale Canada and Terrapure worked closely with the Ontario Environment Ministry to ensure standards compliance. Some of this work included helping to determine what those standards should be. Terrapure was able to contribute to these discussions, leveraging decades of expertise in safe biosolids application to agricultural land. Once the Environmental Compliance Approval came in April 2014, the team had to figure out the best application method and proper amount to encourage vegetation, which meant a lot of testing and optimizing.

THE SOLUTION

At first, Terrapure mixed biosolids into the surface layer of the tailings. Over time, however, the team learned that applying biosolids to the surface, without mixing, allowed for greater rates of application and coverage at a lower cost.

Terrapure also had to experiment with the right tonnage per hectare. After seeding four trial plots with different amounts of biosolids coverage—20, 40, 60 and 80 dry tonnes/hectare—it was determined that 80 dry tonnes was best for seed germination. At the time, it was the maximum allowable application rate. By the end of 2014, approximately 25 hectares of tailings were amended. Where the biosolids were applied, there were impressive results. Wildlife that had not been seen feeding in the area in years started to return. In 2015, the Ontario Environment Ministry approved an increase in the biosolids application rate to a maximum of 150 dry tonnes/hectare, which was necessary for providing higher organic matter and nutrient levels, and for stabilizing the tailings’ pH levels. This approval also increased the cap on the amount of biosolids that could be delivered to the maximum application rate per hectare. To enhance the program even more, Terrapure and Vale partnered with the City of Greater Sudbury to blend leaf and yard waste with biosolids. By blending these materials, the mixture becomes virtually odourless, its nutrients are more balanced and it allows for a more diverse application.


Glen Watson, Vale’s superintendent of environment, decommissioning and reclamation, surrounded by lush vegetation covering part of the company’s Central Tailings Facility in Sudbury

THE RESULTS

As of 2018, Terrapure has successfully covered over 150 hectares of Vale’s tailings with municipal biosolids. Vegetative growth and wildlife are well established on all areas where the team applied organics. Just as importantly, this project has diverted more than 25,000 dry tonnes of valuable biosolids from becoming waste in the landfill. Following the success of the initial trial, the Environment Ministry widened the approval to include all areas of the inactive tailings and a portion of the active tailings. At the current application rate of 150 dry tonnes/hectare, Vale’s central tailings facility could potentially require another 195,000 dry tonnes of biosolids. That’s more than 30 years of biosolids utilization, at an annual rate of 6,000 dry tonnes of material. Needless to say, Vale is very pleased with the results, and the relationship is ongoing. In fact, the Vale team is evaluating other sites in the Sudbury area for this type of remediation, ensuring a long-term, environmentally sustainable rehabilitation program.

Ski Slope on the roof the Copenhagen’s New WTE Facility

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The City of Copenhagen’s new waste-to-energy facility has quickly become a popular destination with the city’s residents as it has a 600 metre ski slope on its roof.

The idea of topping a municipal plant with an urban ski resort won a string of accolades for the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The park itself was designed by SLA Architects. Two years ago the architectural model went on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In an interview with the Guardian, city resident Ole Fredslund said, “I live so close by that I could follow the development. I guess 90% of the focus is on the fact that there’s a skiing hill coming, so in a way it’s very clever. Everybody talks about the ski hill to be, not the waste plant to be.”


Photograph: Mads Claus Rasmussen/EPA

The entire WTE facility cost $840 million Canadian to construct. The facility sits on top of a plant that has been producing heating for homes since 1970. Work began on the facility in 2013.

Eventually, the entire ski run will be divided into three slopes with a green sliding synthetic surface, plus a recreational hiking area and an 80 meter (264 foot) climbing wall. Once the whole project is completed, the roof will contain ski slopes, green spaces and hiking trails. The slopes will have ski lifts to take people up to the top of the runs.

The innovative waste-to-energy plant can burn 31 tonnes of waste per hour while cutting emissions by 99.5%, which makes it capable of converting 360,000 tonnes of waste every year. Its total net energy efficiency of 107% is among the highest in the world for a waste-to-energy facility

The plant currently processes waste from 550,000 residents and 45,000 businesses and produces electricity and heating to approximately 150,000 households.

Babcock & Wilcox Vølund designed and built the facility. It is owned and operated by Amager Ressourcecenter (ARC), a corporation jointly owned by five Copenhagen-area municipalities.


Image courtesy of SLA Architects

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.

Ontario: Electronics & Batteries Producer Responsibility Consultation Ends February 6th, 2019

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As part of the legal directive to transfer current government-overseen waste diversion obligations to a privately-run Individual Producer Responsibility regime (IPR), the Ontario Ministry of the Environment is currently holding consultations with stakeholders in the electronics/electrical equipment (EEE) and batteries industries regarding the coming circular economy regulation for EEE and batteries (and their packaging) and key decisions affecting industry are in the process of being made.

What’s the Mandate?

In understanding the anticipated reach of the EEE/Batteries Regulation, the Ministry is overtly promoting three goals:

  • Improved Environmental Outcomes, including reduction of toxics in landfill and related greenhouse gases;
  • Economic Growth, such as building more “infrastructure for reuse, refurbishment and recycling industries”; and
  • Consistency, Ease, Cost Efficiency and Reduced Burden, with an emphasis on shifting the costs of waste management to individual producers and consumers with the hope that more “competition, innovation and better product design” will result.

To help relieve municipalities of waste handling obligations, and to get itself out of the business of end-of-life product diversion (which it seems intent on doing), the Ministry is giving the EEE/Batteries Regulations a potentially broad and expansionist scope. As of July 1st, 2020, EEE and batteries “producers” will be compelled to resource recover the products (or equivalencies) they put into the Ontario market.

What Could Be Caught under the EEE/Batteries Regulation?

It seems likely that the product categories of one or both of these current diversion programs will be broaden under IPR to include the:

  • likely expansion from the existing 44 types of EEE to capture some or all of:
    • headphones;
    • routers;
    • large and small appliances; and
    • power tools and some categories of lighting.
  • near certain addition of rechargeable batteries;
  • maybe very limited types of EEE and/or batteries embedded in other products; and
  • remote prospect of obligating primary, convenience and/or transportation package used with EEE and/or batteries – given paper/packaging IPR has not yet been implemented in the province.

The addition of products not currently obligated under waste diversion will create immediate needs and opportunities for industries to find new resource recovery solutions to meet these needs.

Who’s Obligated under IPR?

Along with the group of currently obligated producers – namely resident brand owners and resident importers (and, for EEE, assemblers), the Ministry is considering adding one or more other parties which have a “commercial connection” to the products, such as non-resident:

  • importers;
  • wholesalers;
  • licencees;
  • retailers (including on-line out-of-province); and
  • distributors

Many of these companies would not necessarily replace any existing resident parties, but would, instead, be default-obligated for products with no resident “producers”.  The sanctions contemplated for non-compliance under the EEE/Batteries Regulation may well include a prohibition against the sale of products failing to meet their resource recovery targets.

Will it be Like the Tire Regulation?

More than a year ago, stakeholders in the EEE and batteries space were already paying close attention to the Ministry’s implementation of the Tire Regulation, North America’s first comprehensive circular economy law.  Given the breadth of obligations, including the producer’s private obligation to run a reverse supply chain, it’s anticipated that affected companies may respond similarly – coalescing around a limited number of producer responsibility organizations based upon commercial, industry, and market commonalities, to run end-of-life product networks that meet the unique needs of the separate producer groups.

Industry also learned through the Tire Regulation process that critical commercial outcomes can be based upon the content of the regulatory requirements and that full advantage should be taken of the windows of opportunity offered to engage the Ministry on key facets of the coming law.  One such window for EEE and batteries stakeholders is closing on February 6th, 2019.


This has been republished with the permission of Baker MacKenzie. It was first published on the Baker Mackenzie website.

About the Author

Jonathan D. Cocker heads the Baker McKenzie’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).

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.

Farm Boy Grocery to test on-site organic treatment system

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Farm Boy Grocery is partnering with Food Cycle Science on a project that will test an on-site organic food waste mechanical/drying system.  As a way to extract lost value from waste, this project will show how a small footprint, on-site system can process organic food waste at grocery retailers to reduce handling, storage and transportation costs – while producing an end-product with beneficial nutrient and fertilizer properties.

Food Cycle Science is an Ottawa-based clean-tech start-up company that was incorporated in 2011.  It claims that its FoodCycler unit is capable of reducing food scraps by 90%, while converting the remaining 10% in a soil amendment.  It also claims that its system is odorless, silent, and energy efficient.

When in operation, the enclosed system first agitates the food waste, breaking it down into small particles.  While it is being agitated, it is also heated, partially decomposing and sterilizing the by-product entirely. The carbon filter filtration system on the unit is used for odour control.  The FoodCycler process takes anywhere from 2-6 hours for the process to completely dehydrate the food waste.

The form of the by-product that is generated from the process varies depending on the type of food waste being processed. Fish or cooked vegetables appear as fine powder form, and uncooked vegetables appear in a small cereal-like form. Cake, rice, and starches will have a thicker, chunkier texture.

Home-size Food Cycle Unit

The St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences undertook an initial characterization of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the organic material produced by the FoodCycler unit located at the Cornwall Community Hospital. The preliminary results indicated that the FoodCycler material met most of the requirements for metals, pathogens and maturity for AA compost in Ontario.

Partial funding for the project is provided through the BLOOM Centre’s Clean Technology Demonstration Program.  Under Bloom Centre program, demonstrations consist of unique collaborative projects involving both a cleantech solution provider and an end-use customer ‘host’ who is representative of the broader sector. In addition, each project includes other strategic partners to support the roll-out and market adoption of the low-carbon cleantech solution following completion of the demonstration.

The outcomes and results of the demonstration project will be used to:

  • Inform stakeholders in the food supply industry that viable cleantech and low carbon solutions are commercially available;
  • Reduce the perceived environmental, economic, and business risks of adopting cleantech solutions;
  • Bridge the ‘adoption gap’ and increase the market demand for cleantech solutions; and
  • Quantify the economic, GHG emission reduction and other environmental and societal benefits from the widespread adoption of cleantech solutions in Ontario.

This is not the first foray into food recycling by Farm Boy Grocery.  In 2017, the company partnered with a company that developed a mobile app, Flashfood, meant to help tackle the enormous environmental issue of food waste, while offering discerning consumers savings on products they would purchase anyway.  It’s the first and only app focused on reducing that food waste by partnering with grocers to sell surplus items at reduced prices.

The Flashfood app allows for grocery stores to post their high-quality, surplus grocery items like prepared meals, breads and dairy before they end up as food waste. As they near their best-before date, Flashfood lists the products at lower prices for them to be purchased instead of thrown out to landfills. Savvy shoppers can buy items through the app and pick them up in store at great prices.

The Farm Boy demonstration project is scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2019.

 

Are street sweepings waste? Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”) may soon decide.

By Donna Shier, Partner and Certified Environmental Law Specialist with the assistance of Madiha Vallani and Erin Garbett, Students-at-Law

Background

Each year the City of Mississauga (“City”) has offered street cleaning services as part of its routine winter road maintenance. From 2004-2011, the City accumulated “street sweepings” (the materials it collected during street cleaning) at a City Works Yard.  The City eventually deposited the street sweepings on several private properties throughout the City. The City has not identified the municipal addresses for all of the private properties where the street sweepings were deposited.

Contracted Street Sweeper, Mississauga, (Photo Credit: City of Mississauga)

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks considers street sweepings to be a waste under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (“EPA”) and O. Reg. 347. According to the Ministry, street sweepings commonly contain traces of glass, metal, and plastic, and may also
include contaminants.

Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks’ Position
The Ontario Environment Ministry contends that the City unlawfully deposited waste on the receiving properties and issued a Director’s Order requiring the City to:

  • share information in the City’s possession that relates to the street sweepings;
  • retain one or more Qualified Persons to complete work related to the street sweepings at sites where the street sweepings were deposited, and
  • complete a “forensic audit” on other possible deposit sites and prepare a report to submit to the Director and Public Health Officials.

The Ministry argues that the City has failed to demonstrate that it screened or tested the street sweepings to ensure they were free of contaminants in unsafe amounts. The Ministry further argues that the City did not properly inform the receivers about the origins and contents of the street sweepings.

City of Mississauga’s Position
The City claims that it adequately screened and tested the street sweepings to remove debris, and informed receivers about the origins of the street sweepings.  The City maintains that the street sweepings are not a waste and that the Director has not established that there are potential adverse effects associated with the street sweepings.

The City contends that in the alternative, the Director has not demonstrated sufficient potential adverse effects to justify the work in the Director’s Order. The City argues that even if the ERT finds that street sweepings are a waste under the EPA, or that potential adverse effects do derive from the street sweepings, the work ordered is excessive and unnecessary.

Stay
In December, 2016, the City filed a Notice of Appeal of the Director’s Order with the ERT, and requested that the ERT grant a stay of the work ordered pending the appeal.

Prior to the stay hearing, the Director consented to stay all but two of the items in the Director’s Order. Namely, the Director maintained that the City must still share any information in the City’s possession relating to the street sweepings, and complete a forensic audit report about
other possible receiving sites.

At the stay hearing, the City argued that if the ERT did not stay the remaining two work items in the Director’s Order, the City would suffer irreparable harm. Specifically, the City argued it would suffer financial loss, lose its reputation for environmental excellence, and face a threat of litigation in relation to the street sweepings.

Respecting the balance of convenience and public interest considerations that are pertinent to the granting of a stay, the City argued that there was no evidence to suggest that human health or ecological life was at risk due to the deposited street sweepings.  The City also argued that absent a stay, the Director’s Order would compel the City to produce possibly prejudicial documentation, before a finding of any obligation to do so.

The ERT dismissed the City’s request to stay the remaining two items in the Director’s Order. The ERT found that the City did not sufficiently prove it would face irreparable harm if the ERT did not grant a stay, or that the balance of convenience supported granting a stay.

Appeal
The City’s appeal is scheduled to be heard at the ERT in November and early December of 2018. The appeal decision will provide direction on whether street sweepings are waste under the EPA.

The information and comments herein are for the general information of the reader only and do not constitute legal advice or opinion. The reader should seek specific legal advice for particular applications of the law to specific situations. This article was first published in the Wilms & Shier website.

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About the Author

Donna Shier is a partner at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP in Toronto and certified as a Specialist in Environmental Law by the Law Society of Ontario. With almost 40 distinguished years of experience practicing environmental law, Donna Shier is one of Canada’s leading environmental counsel to major industrial corporations. Donna is also frequently called upon by corporate, commercial and real estate lawyers to assist their clients with environmental legal issues, and provides environmental law expertise to external litigation counsel. Donna is a qualified mediator and is an accredited member of the ADR Institute of Canada. Donna is called to the bar of Ontario.Donna may be reached at 416-862-4822 or by e-mail at dshier@willmsshier.com.