Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy: Towards a Wasteless Future or a Wasteful Planet?

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Industry 4.0 and Circular Economy: Towards a Wasteless Future or a Wasteful Planet?
by Antonis Mavropoulos and Anders Waage Nilsen
Publishing September 2020

HOW THE MARRIAGE OF INDUSTRY 4.0 AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CAN RADICALLY TRANSFORM WASTE MANAGEMENT—AND OUR WORLD

Do we really have to make a choice between a wasteless and nonproductive world or a wasteful and ultimately self-destructive one? Futurist and world-renowned waste management scientist Antonis Mavropoulos and sustainable business developer and digital strategist Anders Waage Nilsen respond with a ringing and optimistic “No!” They explore the Earth-changing potential of a happy (and wasteless) marriage between Industry 4.0 and a Circular Economy that could—with properly reshaped waste management practices—deliver transformative environmental, health, and societal benefits. This book is about the possibility of a brand-new world and the challenges to achieve it.

The fourth industrial revolution has given us innovations including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D-printing, and biotech. By using these technologies to advance the Circular Economy—where industry produces more durable materials and runs on its own byproducts—the waste management industry will become a central element of a more sustainable world and can ensure its own, but well beyond business as usual, future. Mavropoulos and Nilsen look at how this can be achieved—a wasteless world will require more waste management—and examine obstacles and opportunities such as demographics, urbanization, global warming, and the environmental strain caused by the rise of the global middle class.

  • Explore the new prevention, reduction, and elimination methods transforming waste management
  • Comprehend and capitalize on the business implications for the sector
  • Understand the theory via practical examples and case studies
  • Appreciate the social benefits of the new approach

Waste-management has always been vital for the protection of health and the environment. Now it can become a crucial role model in showing how Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy can converge to ensure flourishing, sustainable—and much brighter—future.

Source: Wiley Publishers

Stats Canada’s latest Survey on Waste Management in Canada

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Statistics Canada recently released its data from its latest survey on waste management in Canada. The survey was for the 2018 calendar year.  The previous survey covered 2016.

The data shows that almost 26 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste went to private and public waste disposal facilities in Canada in 2018, an increase of about 3% since 2016.  Disposal of non-residential waste amounted to almost 14.9 million tonnes, representing 58% of all waste disposed, while waste from Canadian households accounted for the remaining 42% (10.8 million tonnes).

StatsCan cautions that the data is preliminary. Complete data on waste disposal and diversion for 2018, as well as financial data for the same year, will be released at a later date.

Waste management industry surveys are completed by businesses and municipal government bodies involved in waste management activities. These surveys collect information on the quantity of waste that is disposed of in—or diverted from—landfills. Financial and employment information is also collected.

Peter Hargreave of Policy Integrity Inc. noted that although only a small year over year increase – it is interesting to see the percentage of residential waste disposed in Canada steadily grow as compared to non-residential.

Analysis by Peter Hargreave, Policy Integrity Inc., of Stats Can’s data

GFL Environmental Announces US$835 million Acquisition of Assets and Expansion of U.S. Footprint

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GFL Environmental Inc. (NYSE andTSX: GFL) (“GFL” or the “Company”), a Canadian-headquartered environmental services company, recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase a portfolio of vertically integrated solid waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal assets (the “Acquisition”) for an aggregate purchase price of US$835 million.

The assets to be acquired by the Company, which include 32 collection operations, 36 transfer stations and 18 landfills supported by 380 collection vehicles across 10 U.S. states, represent substantially all of the divestiture assets expected to result from the previously announced acquisition of Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. (“ADS”) by a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc. (“WM” and such transaction, the “WM-ADS Transaction”). The acquired assets are expected to generate annualized revenue of approximately US$345 million.

Strategic Benefits of the Acquisition

The acquired assets are expected to support GFL’s continued organic growth extending its reach into new and adjacent markets and forming a base to pursue synergistic tuck-in acquisitions. GFL expects that the Acquisition will significantly expand its U.S. footprint while creating an opportunity to realize meaningful synergies and earnings accretion. The Acquisition is expected to:

  • Expand GFL’s Geographical Reach. The Acquisition provides GFL with an attractive opportunity to extend its geographical reach into the U.S. Midwest, through a network of vertically integrated assets with a strong regional market presence in the State of Wisconsin.
  • Provide a Complementary Asset Network. The Acquisition brings a high-quality, complementary asset network and customer base to GFL’s existing operations in the States of MichiganGeorgiaAlabama and Pennsylvania.
  • Improve Operating Margins. WM and GFL will enter into a reciprocal 5-year disposal arrangement that will provide the Company with competitive, stable and predictable pricing and disposal terms.
  • Create Long Term Shareholder Value. The Acquisition reinforces the Company’s goal of creating long term equity value for shareholders. The high-quality portfolio of acquired assets coupled with the experienced management team joining GFL are expected to be immediately accretive to free cash flow and provide opportunities for the Company to continue to pursue its growth strategy.

“Even during these unprecedented times, we continue to successfully execute on our growth strategy of pursuing strategic and accretive acquisitions.  This transaction presents GFL with a unique opportunity to significantly expand our U.S. footprint through the acquisition of a high quality, vertically integrated set of assets in both our existing and adjacent fast growing U.S. markets,” said Patrick Dovigi, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GFL. “We are excited to welcome over 900 employees of WM and ADS to the GFL family and are confident that we will continue to offer excellent customer service to our expanded customer base.”

Timing and Approvals

The Acquisition is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including approval by the U.S. Department of Justice and the closing of the WM-ADS Transaction. The Acquisition is not subject to any financing conditions. Closing is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2020, following the WM-ADS Transaction.

Financing of the Acquisition

GFL is well positioned to fund the Acquisition with its strong balance sheet and proven access to capital markets. The Company currently anticipates funding the Acquisition using a combination of capacity under its revolving credit facility and cash on hand but will evaluate other longer-term strategic and opportunistic financing opportunities as they present themselves.  Following completion of the Acquisition, GFL expects to maintain its current credit rating profile and leverage within previously stated ranges.

Waste Technology Company selected as a “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum

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Enevo, a smart waste technology company, was recently selected among hundreds of candidates as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers”.  Enevo’s unique Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technology, analytics and logistics software monitor and predict waste behavior to create custom, sustainable, and efficient waste services.

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers are early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society. Technology Pioneers community is an integral part of the larger Global Innovators community of start-ups at the World Economic Forum.

Enevo’s waste technology was recognized for its innovative and practical use in the waste world and the benefits it creates for civilian life. Enevo’s smart waste sensor monitors fill levels and collections while its analytics software employs sensor data to create custom waste services. Resulting collection schedules and routes drive the fewest number of miles while avoiding container overflow, eliminating unnecessary collections and carbon emissions. Enevo’s customers decrease operation costs while increasing efficiency and sustainability.

“We are delighted the World Economic Forum has recognized our journey in changing waste management and how our innovations in waste data and logistics optimization contributes to global resource efficiency,” says Enevo CEO Fredrik Kekalainen. “We believe data is crucial to create meaningful changes. You can’t manage properly if you don’t have enough information. We started Enevo to help innovative technology,communities decrease waste and increase recycling practices through data insight. We are honored to receive this prestigious award and become part of the World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers community.”

This year’s cohort selection marks the 20th anniversary of the Tech Pioneers community. Throughout its 20-year run, many Technology Pioneers have continuously contributed to advancement in their industries while some have even gone on to become household names. Past recipients include Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Spotify, TransferWise, Twitter and Wikimedia.

Technology Pioneers have been selected based on the community’s selection criteria, which includes innovation, impact and leadership as well as the company’s relevance with the World Economic Forum’s Platforms.

About Enevo

Enevo is the leading international smart waste technology company. With more than 100 patents, Enevo’s sensor technology and advanced analytics software creates custom waste solutions based on unique waste behavior. Enevo’s 40,000+ active sensors and software suite increase efficiency, reduce collections, decrease carbon emissions, decrease operating costs, and increase sustainability. Enevo has offices in Espoo, Finland, Nottingham, UK, and Boston, USA, and a global reseller network in more than a dozen countries.

About World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. (www.weforum.org).

About the Global Innovators:

The Global Innovators Community is a group of the world’s most promising start-ups and scale-ups that are at the forefront of technological and business model innovation. The World Economic Forum provides the Global Innovators Community with a platform to engage with public- and private-sector leaders and to contribute new solutions to overcome current crises and build future resiliency.

Companies who are invited to become Global Innovators will engage with one or more of the Forum’s Platforms, as relevant, to help define the global agenda on key issues.

Global Smart Waste Management Market valued at at $1.5 Billion

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According to a recent market research report prepared by Maximize Market Research, the global smart waste management market was valued at US$ 1.5 Billion in 2019 and is expected to reach approximately US$ 9.53 Billion by 2027, at compound annual growth rate of 26% during forecast period of 2020 to 2027.

The global smart waste management market is segmented into Waste Type, Solution, Service, Applications and Regions. Based on Waste Type Market is segmented into Industrial Waste and Residential Waste. Based on the solution, the smart waste management market is segmented into network management, analytics and reporting solutions, optimization solutions, asset management, asset management, fleet management, remote monitoring and others. On the basis of service, the global market is bifurcated into managed services and professional services. On the basis of application, the market is divided into food & retail, manufacturing & industrial, municipalities, construction, healthcare, and colleges & universities.

Not only for smart cities or urban areas but smart waste management needed in the rural areas of a country as well. As wastes create problem to the environment and can harm to the humans as well as animals on planet by spreading any kind of diseases and allergies. Wrong methods of waste disposal and landfills also cause environmental hazards and health issues, hence it has become need of the current and forecasted era to look out for so

me smart ways to dispose of the waste. If waste management has done in a good way, it may act as a renewable resource. The companies that offer smart solutions for waste collection primarily focus on three solutions intelligent monitoring, route optimization, and analytics.

The rising volume of waste is creating complexities in the logistics of waste collection and need to meet the several regulations by government and environmental authorities relating to waste processing, urges for the better waste management solutions, which can be made possible by the use of advanced technologies, such as IoT sensors, RFID, GPS, etc. Owing to the several reasons, the smart waste management market is at an emerging phase, and it is estimated to witness healthy growth of CAGR 26% during forecast period 2020-2027.

The report encompasses the market by different segments and region, providing an in-depth analysis of the overall industry ecosystem, useful for making an informed strategic decision by the key stakeholders in the industry. Importantly, the report delivers forecasts and share of the market, further giving an insight into the market dynamics, and future opportunities that might exist in the Global Smart Waste Management Market. The driving forces, as well as considerable restraints, have been explained in depth. In addition to this, competitive landscape describing the strategic growth of the competitors have been taken into consideration for enhancing market know-how of our clients and at the same time explain Global Smart Waste Management Market positioning of competitors.

Waste Management Workers in Southwestern Ontario get Big Wage Boost

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Unionized workers of CLAC Local 519 recently ratified an agreement with Waste Management of Canada Corporation (Lambton County Landfill Division) in which the eighteen employees of Waste Management Canada Corporation will be getting wage increases ranging from 15.5 to 6.5 percent over the next three years. The wage increase is retroactive to June of last year and includes a $1,000 signing bonus.

Lambton County is located in southwestern Ontario and has 126,000 residents.  It is bordered by Lake Huron to the north and the St. Clair River to the west.  Waste Management of Canada Corporation owns and operates the Twin Creeks Landfill in Watford and the Waste Management Transfer Station in Petrolia, both in Lambton County.

The workers are represented by that Manufacturing, Transportation & Allied Workers Union, CLAC Local 519.  CLAC is a union that was founded on the belief that people, businesses, and work communities flourish when workplaces are based on cooperation and mutual respect.

“Bargaining for the new contract was a long process,” said CLAC representative Ryan Griffioen in a press release. “But in the end the members are happy with the result. This agreement provides them with excellent monetary increases in the face of uncertainty.”

Fun with Waste: Virtual Safari fundraiser for waste collection in low income countries

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WasteAid has created a Virtual Safari into the Kenyan wilderness, an immersive experience with science, culture, art, cookery and lots of wildlife to help lift spirits, and to raise money for waste collectors in low-income countries.

The safari route is around Lake Naivasha in Kenya, where WasteAid is working with local partners to improve waste collection and recycling. It says the entire 75-kilometre route is equivalent to 100,000 steps or 1,000 minutes exercise.

WasteAid is an independent, non-profit United Kingdom charity set up by waste management professionals to share practical and low-cost waste management know-how with communities in low-income countries.

Zoë Lenkiewicz, Head of Programmes and Engagement at WasteAid, said: “We wanted to create something for people to escape into and enjoy, while raising money for our urgent appeal ‘Waste Collectors Rock!’

“The communities around Lake Naivasha, especially those working with waste, are in poverty and vulnerable to disease – yet at the same time, they are surrounded by all this incredible wildlife. We thought it would be fun to support waste collectors in places like this, by sharing the beauty and wonder of the environment they work so hard to protect.”

Ontario Government Promulgates Regulation Suspending Environmental Bill of Rights Posting Requirements

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The Ontario Government recently announced it has made a temporary regulation to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This regulation exempts all proposals for policies, acts, regulations and instruments from posting requirements under the EBR and removes the requirement to consider Statements of Environmental Values for the duration of the State of Emergency.

The new regulation, Temporary Exemptions Relating to Declared Emergency (O. Reg. 115/20) exempts proposals for Acts, policies, regulations and instruments Part II of the the Environmental Protection Act.  The reasoning for the new regulation given by the government is that the existing state of emergency may requires fast action to protect the health and safety of persons.

As a consequence of the new regulation, the following is in effect:

  • proposals for policy, act, regulation and instrument notices will no longer be required to be posted for 30-day comment period
  • decision-makers will no longer be required to consider their SEVs

According to the National Observer, the action by the Province of Ontario means that it is suspending environmental oversight rules.  In the view of the National Observer, the change allows the Ontario Government to push forward projects or laws that could significantly impact the environment, without consulting or notifying the public.

In an e-mailed response to the National Observer, a spokesperson for Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, Andrew Buttigieg, said,  “This will ensure our government is able to quickly respond to time-sensitive needs that arise as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.”

The proposed regulation is temporary and will automatically terminate 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency.

 

Florida company claims breakthrough in turning waste to hydrogen fuel

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A Florida-based waste-to-fuel company, Standard Hydrogen Company Inc., recently announced that it had made a technology breakthrough and that it had a patented process that could produce inexpensive hydrogen from waste.  The company markets itself as an innovative, breakthrough company that developed and patented technology to economically split hydrogen sulfide into pure hydrogen and sulfur.

“We make pollution-free hydrogen and we clean the environment while doing it,” said Alan Mintzer, Standard Hydrogen CEO in a news release. “This innovation turns trash into clean burning fuel, but more importantly it also cleans up most forms of pollution around the world.”

Description of the Technology

The development of the technology is embodied in United States Patent 9290386B2 (Hydrogen sulfide conversion to hydrogen).  The patent describes a method of reacting hydrogen sulfide with a catalyst at a temperature up to 700 degrees Celsius.  The hydrogen sulfide is converted to sulfur and hydrogen.

In the description of its technology, the company uses plastic waste as an example.  Plastic waste, comprised mainly of hydrogen and carbon atoms, is mixed with hot sulfur.  The hydrogen in the plastic combines with the sulfur to generate hydrogen sulfide (H2S).  The hydrogen sulfide is subsequently turned into hydrogen and sulfur.  The hydrogen can be used as a fuel and the sulfur is reused in the process or sold as an industrial grade product.  The entire process is exothermic (meaning it generates heat).  The company claims its technology requires no precious metal catalysts and requires little to no maintenance.

The company claims its process is different than other ones such as the Claus process.  The Claus process is an energy-intensive process used that destroys the hydrogen sulfide, recovers the sulfur but not the hydrogen.  Standard Hydrogen claims the process is low cost and that no air emissions are generated.

Further Development

The company CEO claims that technology could easily convert organic waste streams (i.e., plastic, biomass, paper, source-separated organics, textiles) into hydrogen.  It also claims it has proven the science behind the patented technology and determined it can economically produce hydrogen from hydrogen sulfide.

The company stated it is will do more research and development through mid-2020 while seeking additional joint venture partners to complete the engineering phase of the technology roll out.  Standard Hydrogen is targeting the first quarter of 2021 to have a commercial reactor at a pilot plant.

 

 

Emterra Environmental wins waste collection contract for Oxford County, Ontario

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Recently, municipal officials from Oxford County (a rural municipal county of 111,000 in southwestern Ontario) awarded Emterra Environmental a five-year  contract for curbside garbage and recycling pickup.  The contract also includes two one-year extension options.  The value of the contract is $2.8 million a year, plus and addtional $703,000 for the processing and transfer of materials.  Other vendors that bid on the curbside collection contract were Green for Life Environmental and HGC Management Inc.

The transfer of service providers from HGC Management Inc. to Emterra Environmental is scheduled for May 4th.  Under the contract, the County will stay on its current five-day garbage pickup and recycling scheduled.

With the new contact approved, Emterra will move to purchase new fleet equipment and have a used fleet collect until September.

The change in companies also brings new collection routes to some Oxford communities.  Also, plastic film products such as plastic bags, plastic wrap or film packaging, and Styrofoam products will not longer be accepted in recycling.  Large Styrofoam drop-off will continue to be available at County recycling centres.