U.S. EPA’s Announces Easing of Environmental Enforcement during COVID-19 Pandemic

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently announced an Enforcement Discretion Policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary policy is with respect to environmental enforcement of legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy addresses different categories of noncompliance differently. For example, under the policy the U.S. EPA does not expect to seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic but does expect operators of public water systems to continue to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies. The policy also describes the steps that regulated facilities should take to qualify for enforcement discretion.

“EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment.”

The temporary policy makes it clear that EPA expects regulated facilities to comply with regulatory requirements, where reasonably practicable, and to return to compliance as quickly as possible. To be eligible for enforcement discretion, the policy also requires facilities to document decisions made to prevent or mitigate noncompliance and demonstrate how the noncompliance was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This policy does not provide leniency for intentional criminal violations of law.

The policy does not apply to activities that are carried out under Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action enforcement instruments. EPA will address these matters in separate communications.

The U.S. EPA’s policy will apply retroactively beginning on March 13, 2020. The U.S. EPA will assess the continued need for and scope of this temporary policy on a regular basis and will update it if EPA determines modifications are necessary.

Recycling Operations Safety Precautions: COVID-19

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The Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) recently prepared a guidance document entitled COVID-19 General Safety Checklist for Recycling Operations. The guidance document was prepared to assist CARI members in ensuring they have taken all possible safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Besides the guidance document, CARI also prepared a summary of companies permitted to operate in Ontario and Quebec under the current government restrictions as can be found below.

Who can currently operate in Ontario?

ESSENTIAL SERVICES CATEGORIZATION – ONTARIO

Most Ontario recycling operations are captured under one or more of these essential services categories:

SUPPLY CHAINS: Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate

MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTION

  • Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers
  • Businesses, facilities and services that support and facilitate the two-way movement of essential goods within integrated North America and Global supply chains

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD PRODUCTION: Businesses (including any-for-profit, non-profit or other entity) that help to ensure safe and effective waste management including deadstock, rendering, nutrient management, bio hazardous materials, green waste, packaging recycling

UTILITIES AND COMMUNITY SERVICES: Utilities and businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services including waste collection 

Who can currently operate in Quebec?

ESSENTIAL SERVICES CATEGORIZATION – QUEBEC

Essential service definition: “All businesses that produce inputs or raw materials necessary for priority services and activities must maintain their activities accordingly, bearing in mind the directives from public health authorities. Businesses that provide non-essential services, excluding stores, can maintain minimal operations to ensure the resumption of their activities, bearing in mind the directives issued by public health authorities.”

Recycling operations that fall under these categories may maintain basic operations onsite:

1. GOVERNMENT SERVICES AND OTHER PRIORITY ACTIVITIES / SERVICES GOUVERNEMENTAUX ET AUTRES ACTIVITES PRIORITAIRES: Garbage collection and residual materials management / Collecte des déchets et gestion des matières résiduelles

2. PRIORITY MANUFACTURING ACTIVITIES / ACTIVITES MANUFACTURIERES PRIORITAIRES: The production of inputs necessary for priority sectors / Production des intrants nécessaires aux secteurs prioritaires

Business Opportunity: Solid Waste Management Plan for Wood Buffalo, Alberta

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The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is seeking proposals from reputable and experienced firms to conduct assessment of the current municipal Solid Waste Management practices to reduce and eliminate the adverse impacts of solid waste materials on resident’s health, the environment and to support economic development and superior quality of life.

Bid Opportunity notices and awards and a free preview of the bid documents is available on the Bids and Tenders website free of charge without registration. There is no cost to obtain an unsecured version of the document and /or to participate in this solicitation

Submissions will be received online only.  The deadline for bid submissions is April 8th, 2020.

Sanexen Receives funding for pilot project to recycle C&D waste

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RECYC-QUÉBEC recently awarded funding to SANEXEN Environmental Services Inc., for Phase 1 of a project to recycle and reclaim gypsum residues and fine residues from the construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) sector.

As the Quebec Residual Materials Management Policy calls for fine residues to no longer be buried in landfills, CRD debris sorting centres are facing sizeable challenges. SANEXEN therefore proposes a solution to recycle and reclaim the fine materials, which would then avoid having to bury over 90% of fine residues from CRD debris sorting centres.

Phase 1 of the project, backed by RECYC-QUÉBEC, would transform fine residues into materials that could be reclaimed using SANEXEN’s own physicochemical treatment process. Moreover, this is the first traceability project in Quebec for residual materials coming directly from the source of production (CRD debris sorting centres) to a reclamation centre dedicated to processing this material. This traceability project is part of SANEXEN’s commitment to transparent and environmentally responsible management of these residual materials. Moreover, a project with the private sector had been carried out in 2019, in collaboration with Avatek Immobilier and Traces Québec.

“This is the first technologically and economically viable solution that will result in less than 10% of CRD fine residues ending up in the landfill at the end of this large-scale, one-year project,” said Martin Bureau, Vice-President, Innovation, SANEXEN.

This initiative will also help define the following aspects: what can actually be considered fine residue as opposed to waste and the type of fine residues that may be reclaimed. A more thorough definition of fine residue that can be reclaimed will also help refine possible markets for this material.

B.C. Recycling Start-up Receives $1.68 million from SDTC

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Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) recently announced funding of fourteen cleantech and environmental projects across Canada. The total amount of funding granted to the 14 start-up companies from SDTC is $46.3 million. The funds, which must be matched by private investment, will be used for commercial development by each company.

One of the companies receiving funding is RecycleSmart Solutions based in British Columbia. The company is receiving $1.68 million from SDTC for a project to decrease the driving distance of garbage collection trucks and the amount of garbage destined for landfill sites. 

RecycleSmart manufactures and installs smart sensors in waste bins, providing details about bin contents and contamination. This information helps reduce unnecessary waste collection and allows waste management companies to reduce the amount of trash destined for the landfill.

Leah Lawrence, President and CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, stated at a news conference to announce the funding, “Canadian cleantech entrepreneurs are tackling problems across Canada and in every sector. I have never been more positive about the future. SDTC remains committed to helping companies accelerate their clean technologies, from seed to scale-up.”

Jaclyn McPhadden, RecycleSmart CAO and Co-founder

Jaclyn McPhadden, RecycleSmart, Chief Administrative Officer stated, “The support from SDTC is an incredible opportunity to accelerate the growth of RecycleSmart by fuelling our sensor technology development program. We are honoured to receive this investment, which will increase the rate at which RecycleSmart can move from R&D to commercialization in the next two years.”

About RecycleSmart Solutions

RecycleSmart Solutions develops, and then implements, waste management programs for organizations that achieve financial, environment, and operational goals. The company uses a holistic approach that delivers guaranteed results.

RecycleSmart Solutions has a team of waste and data scientists, engineers, and program designers that develops and implements a waste management program that results in a 10% Cost Savings (minimum) commitment to a client organization.

The company then utilizes its Waste Wizard App that provides an organization with information on collection schedule, invoice details, and other information.

In one case, First Capital Realty, a developer and manager of retail-focused properties, engaged RecycleSmart Solutions to assist in the management of its waste and recycling programs in Edmonton. RecycleSmart Solutions did the following:

  • Installed sensors on all waste and recycling containers;
  • Monitored fill levels of containers on a monthly basis and reduced services when possible;
  • Managed their waste and recycling services;
  • Reduced costs by negotiating new rates with the waste haulers’ and
  • Handled issues with missed pickups/overflowing bins including site cleanups

The result of the technology and management solution resulted in 24 percent savings in operational costs for First Capital Realty at its Edmonton location.

About SDTC and the Canada Cleantech Market

Canada is number one in the G20 for clean technology innovation. In January 2019, 12 Canadian companies were recognized on the 2019 Global Cleantech 100 list. Currently, clean technology employs more than 180,000 Canadians.

The clean technology market is set to exceed $2.5 trillion by 2022.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada is an arm’s-length foundation created by the Government of Canada to support Canadian companies with the potential to become leaders as they develop and demonstrate new technologies to address some of our most pressing environmental challenges.

Greenlane Renewables Secures New $8.3 million Landfill Gas upgrading Project

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Greenlane Renewables Inc. (TSXV: GRN), headquartered in British Columbia, recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Greenlane Biogas North America Ltd., has secured a new $8.3 million (US$6.3 million) biogas upgrading contract with a customer in California, whose name is being withheld at this time for confidentiality reasons. Engineering work will begin immediately on the California-based landfill project. Order fulfilment will begin immediately upon completion of permitting and approval of submittals by the customer, expected by early to mid 2020, with delivery expected to occur within approximately six months of commencement.

The facility is expected to process 1,600 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas to produce ~97% pure biomethane, or approximately 380,000 gigajoules (GJ) (or 360,000 million British Thermal Units (MMBTU)) annually, of clean Renewable Natural Gas (“RNG”) for direct injection into the local gas distribution network owned and operated by SoCalGas, the largest natural gas utility in the United States.  In addition, the residual off-gas, a byproduct of the biogas upgrading process, will be blended with natural gas to generate power for on-site facilities and processes. This project is designed to achieve stringent SoCalGas Rule 30 quality specifications and may be the first of its kind to work in conjunction with power generation to target 100% methane recovery. To date, there are no projects upgrading landfill gas into RNG for injection into SoCalGas’ network.

Greenlane’s Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology solution was selected for this project based on several criteria, including reliability, overall life-cycle cost, and ability to work seamlessly with other processes. Biogas upgrading is a process through which trace impurities in the biogas stream are removed and carbon dioxide is separated from methane (CH4) to produce pipeline-spec biomethane suitable for injection into the natural gas grid and for direct use as vehicle fuel.

“This project is a great opportunity to showcase Greenlane’s advanced and reliable technology,” said Brad Douville, President & CEO of Greenlane. “Our solution is targeting 100% methane capture from the landfill site. Recovered landfill methane will be upgraded and then piped directly into SoCalGas’ natural gas grid, meeting their stringent Rule 30 gas quality standards with the residual off-gas blended with natural gas for onsite power generation. This is a real win-win for the environment and generates attractive economics.”

About Greenlane Renewables
Greenlane Renewables is a provider of biogas to renewable natural gas (RNG) upgrading systems. The company has over 30 years industry experience, patented proprietary technology, and over 100 biogas upgrading units supplied into 18 countries worldwide, including the world’s largest biogas upgrading facility.

Canada-based Fund created for investing in Cleantech Start-ups

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To support the development of cleantech companies, four Québec-based institutions are investing US$29 million in the new US$156.5 million Spring Lane Capital Fund I. With their investments, BDC Capital (US$15 million), Fonds de solidarité FTQ (US$7.5 million), Fondaction (US$3.5 million) and Palomino Capital (US$3 million) are looking to finance the start-up and post-start-up phases of cleantech companies, essential actors in the field of sustainable development.

“BDC Capital is pleased to support the launch of Spring Lane’s inaugural fund,” said Alison Nankivell, Vice President, Fund Investments and Global Scaling. “We believe the Spring Lane’s combination of project finance and growth equity for small scale environmental projects will help address a genuine funding gap in the financing chain for cleantech companies.”

“With its innovative and pioneering model, Spring Lane Capital is addressing the main challenge faced by the cleantech sector when it comes to start-up and post-start-up financing. The Fonds de solidarité FTQ’s investment will further help the development of clean technologies right here in Québec,” adds Dany Pelletier, the Fonds’ Vice-President for Investments, Strategic Capital, Energy, Environment and Mines.  

“The model that Spring Lane Capital proposes will enable local companies that are developing innovative technologies to access capital and develop their markets in areas in line with our objectives of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. Furthermore, its expertise in project financing makes it an interesting model for expediting the positive shift in our economy,” continues Marc-André Binette, Deputy Chief Investment Officer at Fondaction.

“We are very happy to support cleantech companies, both locally in Québec and abroad, as they benefit from Spring Lane’s innovative financing model to help grow their business,” declares Gary Alexander, CEO of Palomino Capital.

About BDC Capital
BDC Capital is the investment arm of BDC- Canada’s only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs. With over $3 billion under management, BDC Capital serves as a strategic partner to the country’s most innovative firms. It offers a full spectrum of risk capital, from seed investments to transition capital, supporting Canadian entrepreneurs who wish to scale their businesses into global champions. Visit bdc.ca/capital.

About the Fonds de solidarité FTQ
The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is a development capital investment fund that channels the savings of Quebecers into investments. As at May 31, 2019, the organization had $15.6 billion in net assets, and through its current portfolio of investments supports 215,104 jobs. The Fonds is a partner in 3,126 companies and today has more than 700,000 shareholder-savers.

About Fondaction
Fondaction distinguishes itself through its investments, which are aimed at supporting, promoting and encouraging sustainable development. It manages assets in excess of $2 billion collected as retirement savings from more than 170,000 shareholders.
Fondaction supports the development of more than 1,200 SMEs, many of which are social economy enterprises. It helps create and maintain jobs and reduce inequalities, and contributes to the fight against climate change. Fondaction reduced the carbon footprint of its equity market investments by 51% between 2015 and 2018. For more information, go to fondaction.com or visit our LinkedIn page.

About Palomino Capital
Palomino Capital Corp. is a Montreal-based family office. We deploy proprietary capital across a broad spectrum of asset classes including alternative asset managers, bespoke private credit facilities, direct private equity and real estate.

Toronto wants to power its trash trucks with food waste

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Written by Charlotte Edmond, World Economic Forum

Toronto residents’ trash will soon be powering the collection of yet more trash. The Canadian city says it wants to become one of the first in North America to convert biogas created from organic waste into fuel to power its refuse collection vehicles, generate electricity and heat homes.

The closed-loop system is set to be operational from March 2020, when the city’s food scraps and biodegradable waste will start being taken to a newly constructed anaerobic digestion facility for processing. The biogas released will be captured and converted to renewable natural gas (RNG) – and then injected into the city’s natural gas grid.

The system will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of Toronto’s waste fleet, with estimates suggesting the facility will be able to produce enough gas each year to power the majority of its collection vehicles.

Since 2010, Toronto has been gradually transitioning away from diesel-powered trucks to quieter, more environmentally friendly ones. The city has also constructed a number of RNG refuelling stations.

Once in the grid, the gas could also be used for electricity or heating.

A circular approach

Both biogas and gas created by waste in landfill can be upgraded to create RNG by removing carbon dioxide and other contaminants. The biogas produced from Toronto’s food waste is currently flared – or burnt off – which the city notes is standard industry practice, but does not take advantage of its potential as a renewable power source.

As part of its ambition to become a circular economy, Toronto hopes to create four RNG processing sites, producing gas from two of its anaerobic digestion facilities for organic waste and two of its landfill sites. Once they are up and running, the city says they will be able to produce the gas equivalent of taking 35,000 cars off the road for a year.

RNG is considered a carbon negative product, because the overall reduction in emissions from not using fossil fuels and sending organic waste to landfill outweighs the emissions from using and creating RNG.

The problem of food waste

Globally, food makes up a huge part of our waste. Around a third of all the food produced globally is never eaten.

Image: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

If food waste were a country it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. When you take into account the carbon footprint created by growing, harvesting, transporting, processing and storing food, the waste is almost equivalent to global road transport emissions.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum. This article has been republished under the permission of the World Economic Forum under their Terms of Use. It was first published on the World Economic Forum website.


HSBC Canada launches Green Finance products to support Canadian businesses

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HSBC Bank Canada is supporting Canadian companies to meet their environmental and sustainability goals with the launch of new Green Finance products, the first of their kind in Canada aligned to the Loan Market Association’s Green Loan Principles.

The new range – available for businesses of all sizes from small to medium enterprises (SMEs) through to large corporates – includes term loans, commercial mortgages and leasing products.

Linda Seymour, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Bank Canada, said: “As companies look to become more sustainable, they are investing in green projects and activities. We can continue to support their aspirations through our Green Finance products, which support businesses as they pursue sustainable and environmentally-focused activities.”

HSBC’s latest Navigator survey reveals that 95% of Canadian businesses are feeling the pressure to be more sustainable. Their top motivations in implementing sustainability practices are to grow sales (29%), improve their employer brand (24%) or improve transparency and traceability of their products (22%).ii

The Green Finance range includes:

Term Loans
The minimum Green Loan starts at $500,000, enabling a broad range of companies to access finance to support sustainability projects.

Commercial Mortgages
Access loans for purchasing new property, as well as refinancing or making sustainability improvements to existing buildings.

Leasing
Leasing allows companies to use their working capital to keep their business running, instead of financing long-term green assets.

A green loan allows customers to showcase their green credentials to stakeholders by demonstrating that a portion of their funding is ring-fenced for green activities. Green credentials are becoming increasingly important for businesses providing goods or services to large enterprise customers, as these organizations need to demonstrate their supply chain’s sustainability credentials, either to employees or investors.

Targray, a major international provider of innovative materials for photovoltaic manufacturers – and a long-time HSBC Canada customer – is the type of company that might benefit from HSBC’s Green Finance products. CFO Michel Tardif, said: “Targray is focused on supporting the growth and sustainability of novel energy industries through collaboration, innovation and value creation. To do that, we need partners who understand how to financially support companies in their sustainability efforts. We are glad to be working collaboratively with HSBC to create new solutions that fuel the world’s transition towards sustainable energy. Their green loan offering is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Linda Seymour added: “Businesses have asked for products that are aligned to their sustainability goals, and we are confident this suite of Green Finance products will support them.”

HSBC Bank Canada has aligned its Green Finance offering to the Loan Market Association’s Green Loan Principles – a set of market standards and guidelines providing a consistent methodology for use across the wholesale green loan market. This initiative forms part of HSBC’s global commitment to provide $100 billion in sustainable financing and investment by 2025.

Eligible activities include:

  • Renewable energy, including storage and smart grids;
  • Pollution prevention and control, including reduction of air emissions and greenhouse gas control;
  • Clean transportation;
  • Climate change adaptation;
  • Sustainable water and wastewater management;
  • Sustainable management of living and natural resources and land use;
  • Waste prevention, reduction, recycling; waste to energy; products from waste.

HSBC Bank Canada
HSBC Bank Canada, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, is the leading international bank in the country. We help companies and individuals across Canada to do business and manage their finances internationally through three global business lines: Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Retail Banking and Wealth Management.

Inter Pipeline and Alberta NAIT Announce $10 Million Research Project on Plastic Waste Reduction

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Inter Pipeline Ltd., headquartered in Calgary, and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (“NAIT“) recently announced a new partnership to research opportunities to reuse and recycle plastic in Canada. The ten-year agreement, known as Plastics Research in Action (“PRIA”), will be funded by a $10 million commitment from Inter Pipeline, which represents the largest applied research partnership in NAIT’s history.

The Calgary-based energy infrastructure company is expanding into the petrochemical business with the construction of its Heartland Petrochemical Complex, slated for completion in late 2021 in Strathcona County. The $3.5-billion complex will produce polypropylene pellets used to manufacture recyclable products including medical equipment and textiles.

The polypropylene manufacturing process at Inter Pipeline’s complex is estimated to generate 65% less greenhouse gas (“GHG”) than the global average, and 35% less GHG than the North American average.

The PRIA partnership will see NAIT researchers and students work with Inter Pipeline on projects to advance the reuse and recycling of plastic in Canada and around the world.

Potential research projects include examining opportunities for plastic to be reused, thus retaining the value of the product, and supporting the ideals of a circular economy. Innovations could potentially help Canadians reuse and re-manufacture materials, create new economic opportunities and benefit our environment. A portion of the applied research funding will also be dedicated to improving sustainable practices at Inter Pipeline’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex.

“Ultimately, I think everyone agrees the end game is preventing plastic waste. That’s why I consider today’s announcement to be a completely necessary and crucial step,” said Chris Bayle, president and CEO of Inter Pipeline at the announcement of the partnership Tuesday in NAIT’s state-of-the-art Productivity and Innovation Centre

Almost 80% of all post-consumer plastics in Canada currently end up in landfills, he added. “This is the right project being done in the right place at the right time,” said Bayle of the partnership with NAIT. “We recognize fully that sustainability is a critical component of our business.”

“This agreement showcases how NAIT plays a vital role in helping industry to find solutions to the problems they’re facing,” said Dr. Glenn Feltham, NAIT’s president and CEO.

About Inter Pipeline Ltd.
Inter Pipeline is a major petroleum transportation, natural gas liquids processing, and bulk liquid storage business based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Inter Pipeline owns and operates energy infrastructure assets in western Canada and Europe. Inter Pipeline is a member of the S&P/TSX 60 Index and its common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol IPL.  www.interpipeline.com

About NAIT
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and skilled trades.