The City Council in Hamilton, Ontario recently decided not to pursue a tender for Expression of Interest for (EOI) alternative recycling options. A week earlier, Council had voted in favour of issuing an EOI.

The driver for the original motion was an unsolicited offer from AmaLaTerra Inc. that proposed a plan to transform the city’s plastic waste into green energy through a “steam reformation” processor. The President of AmaLaTerra Inc. is Mike Miscio. He is also a partner at the Bradam Energies, a company formed in 2012 that holds the patent on the steam reformation technology.

Mr. Miscio told city Councillors that any sort of waste can go inside its processor, including plastic and tires. Any emissions are “well below” provincial emissions standards, he said. The emissions are half “very, very green hydrogen,” he said, while the rest is “methane and carbons,” all of which can be used to produce electricity.

Bradam Energies acquired the assets and intellectual capital of technology of Elementa Group in April 2016 and has since been developing commercial project opportunities globally.

Elementa Group built and operated a pilot gasification facility in Sault Ste. Marie. The facility operated a successfully converted up to 3-tonnes per day of municipal solid waste to syngas from 2007 until 2011. The company had an agreement with the City to build a full-scale facility but was unable to raise the $50 million to build it.

The Bradam patented steam reformation process and facility design provide an environmentally responsible way to reform any organic waste into synthesis gas (“Syngas”) for production of electricity using turbines, pipeline grade renewable or synthetic natural gas, hydrogen, or the Syngas can be converted to biofuels (diesel & jet fuel) using Fischer Tropsch technology.

The patented process is a combustion-free chemical reduction process with no oxidation yielding a high quality BTU value Syngas, which is different than incineration and combustion processes.

The reversal on its decision was based partly on Hamilton Councillors re-thinking recycling in the City. Instead of end-of-pipe solutions, City Councillors thought upstream efforts as reduction should be the focus of the City.

The use of steam reformation to manage plastic recyclables would likely be off-side of the Ontario government’s 3Rs policy. In the Province, energy recovery from waste and recyclables is not considered recycling. In late 2016, Ontario proclaimed the Waste Free Ontario Act, comprising the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act and the Waste Diversion Transition Act. At the heart of the legislation is the idea that producers should be responsible for the end-of-life management of their products and packaging.

In the meantime, city staff will go ahead with the standard request for proposals from providers to handle Hamilton’s recyclables after the current contract expires in March 2020.

Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger proposed the city send a letter to the provincial government asking it to follow through with the Waste Free Ontario Act, which was established by the previous Liberal government and would compel manufacturers to use recyclable packaging. The mayor’s motion was passed by City Council.