Zero Waste High-Rise Project Starts in Toronto

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The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) has been working with high-rise buildings to reduce waste, increase recycling, and increase composting. Buildings have cut their waste, created stronger communities, improved their buildings, and saved money.

TEA has studied how leading buildings achieved their results and helped other buildings learn from their success. Now, TEA want to share what we’ve learned with high-rise residents and staff, to help more Toronto high-rises become zero-waste buildings.

The Zero Waste High-Rise Project was launched and consists of a new step-by-step online program that will allow residents or staff to start the process of reducing waste in their building.

Participants can move through the pathway at their own pace: 

  • Complete forms to assess how well your building is doing, identify opportunities to take action.
  • Access resources and tips from TEA on actions you can take.
  • Participate in virtual events and meetings to learn from other high-rise leaders across the city.

There are 4 stages in the Zero Waste High Rise Project pathway:

  1. Stage 1 – Introduction
  2. Stage 2 – Finding Opportunities
  3. Stage 3 – Planning and Taking Action
  4. Stage 4 – Measuring & Celebrating Change

Each stage is paired with forms and activities, success stories, resources and virtual peer-learning events to help you succeed at each stage in the process.

Who can get involved? 

Anyone who lives or works in a high-rise building and wants to learn more is welcome to sign up! You’ll receive resources and invitations to online events.

In September, up to 10 condos and co-op buildings were selected to receive enhanced support, including facilitated meetings and coaching from TEA staff and our research partners.

What is the cost?

This project is no cost for users and is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario. The project also receives research support from researchers at the University of Toronto and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Here are 2 ways to get started: 

1. Sign up for the online program with your name and email address. Sign up here

2. Register for an upcoming information session. Find a list of upcoming sessions here

This project is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and receives research support from the University of Toronto, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

 

How Neighbourhood Food Environments and a Pay-as-You-Throw (PAYT) Waste Program Impact Household Food Waste Disposal

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Researchers from three Canadian universities recently published the results of a study on how pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste programs impact household food waste disposal.  The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of current household food waste disposal in order to develop and implement more effective interventions to reduce the wasting of food.

The collaborative study from researchers working at Western University (London, Ontario), Simon Fraser University (British Columbia) and the University of Toronto conducted a four season waste characterization study of 200 single-family households across eight neighbourhoods in Toronto.

The City of Toronto provides residents with a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste program that includes a choice of four garbage cart sizes ranging from small,  medium, large, and extra large.  Annual user fees range from $18 (small cart) to $411 (extra large cart).  Each household also gets a green cart for organic waste and a blue cart for recycling at no annual cost.

The results of the research show that, on average, each household disposed 4.22 kg/week of total food waste, 69.90% of which was disposed in the green cart, and disposal increased significantly (p = 0.03) by garbage cart size to L but not XL garbage carts. Of this total, 61.78% consisted of avoidable food waste, annually valued at $630.00–$847.00 CAD/household.

Toronto’s PAYT waste program has been effective at diverting food waste into the green cart but not at reducing its generation. Higher median incomes were positively correlated, while higher neighbourhood dwelling and population density were negatively correlated, with total and avoidable food waste disposal. Regression analyses explained 40–67% of the variance in total avoidable food waste disposal.

Higher supermarket density and distance to healthier food outlets were associated with more, while dwelling density was related to less, total and avoidable food waste disposal.

Distance to fast food restaurants and less healthy food outlet density were both negatively associated with avoidable food waste disposal in the garbage and green cart, respectively. Avoidable food waste reduction interventions could include increasing garbage cart fees, weight-based PAYT, or messaging to households on the monetary value of avoidable food waste, and working with food retailers to improve how households shop for their food.

The researchers conclude that the data from the stud can be used to help formulate avoidable food waste reduction interventions. In terms of the PAYT waste program, this could be accomplished by re-visiting and potentially increasing garbage cart fees. Alternately, PAYT could be switched to a weight-based approach which has been shown to be more effective at source reduction of waste.

Program Launched to Recycle more plastic from Farms in Canada

Cleanfarms, non-profit environmental stewardship organization, with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recently announced a three-year 1.3 million project aimed at recovering and recycling more plastic from Canadian farms.
The innovative multi-year initiative will ramp up this fall.  It will provide more Canadian farmers with opportunities to manage plastic waste in environmentally responsible ways.
The project, funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP), has been developed and is being executed by Cleanfarms, the national, non-profit industry stewardship organization that has programs in place across Canada to recover and manage non-organic farm waste, most of it plastic, for recycling or environmentally responsible disposal.
Entitled ‘Building a Zero-Plastic Waste Strategy for Agriculture’, the project has three broad-based objectives:
  • to build consensus on the appropriate management of non-organic agricultural waste;
  • to survey farmers to establish current patterns of disposal before and after pilots and education programs; and
  • to demonstrate best practices in ag waste management through pilot programs conducted throughout Canada.

Canadian agriculture currently uses about 40,000 tonnes of plastics annually in the process of growing crops and raising livestock, most of it in plastic containers, grain bags, twine and bale/silage film. Though plastic is essential throughout the farming industry, managing the end of lifecycle of plastics is a big challenge that requires forward-thinking solutions.

Cleanfarms already operates five permanent programs across Canada, the best known of which collects small plastic containers that are 23 litres and under for recycling. In 2019, farmers returned 5.5 million containers bringing the total number returned since the program began 30 years ago to 131.5 million. The containers are recycled into new agricultural products such as tile drainage pipes.

The CASPP/Cleanfarms project links with a recent initiative undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada to quantify the types and volumes of on-farm plastic wastes and identify recycling facilities for agricultural plastics across Canada.

Inspiring Advice at the Women in Waste Webinar

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The Ontario Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA Ontario) and the City of Toronto recently hosted a webinar entitled Women in Waste.  The purpose of the webinar was to showcase inspiring women in the Ontario waste industry.

Featured speakers for the event included the Betsy Varghese (Waste Management Technical Group Strategist at Dillon Consulting), Charlotte Ueta (Project Director, Business Transformation EPR, City of Toronto), Daina Conley (Manager, Community Recycling Centre Operations, Region of Peel) and Sherry Brotherston (Operations Team Lead, Halton Region).  The moderator for the webinar was Eileen Chen (Household Hazardous Waste Operator, Region of Peel).

During the webinar, each featured speaker shared their experiences in various sub-sectors of waste management and discussed the challenges they faced in male dominated work places. The women shared their daily life routines and their motivations.  The discussed who their mentors were and how they were able to overcome the challenges they faced.

One motivation shared by the majority of the panelists was the excitement of working in an industry that is constantly changing.  They shared their passions on working in an industry where their contributions help improve the environment.  They also described the great feeling they get when they are working on a project that results in environmental improvements.

Each panelist agreed that having a trusting and supportive mentor helped them grow their passion in the industry.  One panelist talked of a mentor that helped put wings to her dreams and provided her with opportunities to expand her abilities.  Another panelist added that her mentor’s communication style and guidance on different approaches to difficult situations was magical and fueled her passion.  To this day panelists still network with their mentors in the industry.

Another key point raised in the webinar was balance between work and personal life.  Panelists admitted that family commitments made for challenging times are work and that they had to say no work opportunities on occasion.  One panelist described the initial difficulty of working late-night shifts after coming back from maternity leave but soon adapted to it.

Panelists acknowledged that it important as professionals to recognize that no person can do it all and that it is important to acknowledge one’s own feelings and to be kind to yourself and appreciate your best efforts.

For each panelist in the webinar, overcoming the obstacles of work in the waste industry wasn’t easy.  Each relied on the help and advice of their network and mentors.  It helped that they have a passion of the industry and are confident in what they can contribute to the sector.  Getting recognized for a doing a great job certainly helps build confidence and motivation for further success.

Panelists acknowledged that the waste industry profession is not seen by the general public as glamorous work.  It can be messy and require hands-on attention.  However, it is also an industry that needs professionals to work on policies and procedures, budget and plan, and to manage and lead.  The profession needs scientist, engineers, researchers, and planners.  In all facets of the waste industry, women can be found that have made great contributions.

The mission of Women in Waste is to promote the synergic involvement of all genders in the sector and appreciation of their work.

Virtual Ontario Environment and Cleantech Business + Policy Forum

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When businesses and entrepreneurs face uncertainty, we know what to do.  Gather more information.  Build our networks.  Develop new markets.  And never stop looking for intelligence we can use.

That’s why a growing number of Ontario environmental and cleantech companies and organizations from across Ontario’s environment and cleantech sector will be attending the first virtual Environment and Cleantech Business + Policy Forum, organized by the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA).  The eighth edition of this event will feature speakers and panels on investment trends and key markets, an annual Q&A session with Ontario Deputy Ministers and our Skip Willis Award presentation. Plus networking opportunities with more than 150 attendees!

The popular Policy Roundtables will be hosted in the week leading up to the Business + Policy Forum from September 14-18. Hear the latest on sector-specific topics around water, excess soils, climate resiliency, brownfield remediation, waste and organics.

Here are four (4) key reasons to attend this event:

  • Learn where key markets and potential investment are going. The speakers and panels will feature leading investment, finance and market experts who will discuss where key areas of environment and cleantech will be going in coming years.  What will grow?   What will face challenges?  Where should businesses look to expand?
  • Hear “what’s next!” Our popular “QuickPitch” competition will see emerging entrepreneurs from a range of new businesses share their pitches with the audience.  This always entertaining, rapid-fire format will share new business models from new companies across the environment and cleantech space.  Your next partner or supplier (or competitor) could be on the stage!
  • Gain insight into the priorities of key ministries. Our “Chat with the Deputies” is a popular feature of the Forum.  This moderated discussion with Deputy Ministers from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Job Creation will see them share their strategic insights into their priorities and take questions from the audience.
  • Expand your networks. The Business and Policy Forum features a “who’s who” of companies from across the environmental business sector, as well as senior investment, government and policy people.  Meet new contacts through our online networking sessions or on your own time through private messaging and hold video meetings directly in the virtual platform.

Private Company Developing new Organics Processing Facility in Toronto

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Coronation Organics Processing, Inc. is in the processing of developing a state-of-the-art, organics recycling and bioenergy facility to be located in Toronto.  When constructed, the facility will have  state-of-the-art de-packaging equipment capable of processing over 30 tonnes per hour of mixed packaged organics for recycling.

From food manufacturing, greenhouse and packing shed organics, grocery store and restaurant food green-box collection, the facility will be able to divert organic material from landfill and recycle it into renewable energy and organic fertilizer is an environmentally sound solution for the treatment of organic waste streams.

Facility Design

As proposed by the company, the Design and Operation (D&O) Report details the design and operation of the proposed Coronation Organics Processing Centre and Anaerobic Digester.
The facility consists of two parts, an Organics Processing Centre (OPC) and Anaerobic Digester System. The facility is designed to work together to process and transfer organic residues for the generation of renewable natural gas and organic fertilizer (digestate). The OPC is designed to be able to provide clean organics for the anaerobic digester system or for export from site. The anaerobic digester system uses the clean organics to generate renewable natural gas for injection into the existing natural gas grid and digestate for export from site for use as an organic fertilizer.

Facility Description

The Facility is currently permitted via ECA Number 4568-AJTR84 is held by Optimum Environmental Corp.  The existing permit includes construction and demolition (C&D) and organics processing on the same permit but as the operation of these two processes is different and that they operate independently of
one another, it is requested that the Permit be split into two separate ECA Permits.
The only shared equipment between the two facilities will be fencing and gates, the weigh-scales that are used to weigh trucks as they enter and exit the property and the roads on the site. All other activities are separate.
The Organics Processing Centre (OPC) is designed to process up to 1240 metric tons per day of organics. Of this material, the anaerobic digester system can process up to 620 metric tons/day.  Any organic material that is processed through the OPC that is not used as feedstock to the anaerobic digester will be exported from the site to other operating anaerobic digester facilities or other appropriately permitted facilities.
The anaerobic digester system will use processed organic residuals from IC&I and SSO material to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) for injection into the natural gas grid and digestate for use on agricultural land.

 

Lethbridge Biogas facility undergoing $7 million expansion

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The Lethbridge Alberta Biogas facility is undergoing a $7 million expansion.  The expansion will introduce the company into the natural gas market by allowing biogas to be purified into pipeline-grade biomethane.  With the expansion it will soon be able to supply renewable natural gas to the Lethbridge area and also expand into the British Columbia market.

The expansion will introduce Lethbridge Biogas into the natural gas market, by allowing for the plant’s biogas to be purified into pipeline-grade biomethane, (renewable natural gas or RNG), which will be injected into ATCO’s natural gas grid. This carbon-neutral biomethane will also be supplied to FortisBC under a long-term supply agreement by mid-2021. Once the expansion is complete, Lethbridge Biogas will have the first full-scale, commercial renewable natural gas application in Alberta.

“This expansion at our Lethbridge Biogas facility is another significant milestone in the history of our project,” says Lethbridge Biogas Director of Operations Stefan Michalski. “It is the result of dedication and very hard work from our team over many, many years to get our business established, not only in the Lethbridge area but beyond in the Canadian and North American context. A lot of players in the RNG market were interested to become part of this expansion, as RNG has become a highly sought-after commodity to reduce the carbon footprint in the natural gas supply chain.”

Feedstock

The Lethbridge biogas/cogeneration plant processes organic residues such as agricultural manures and food processing by-products. The facility is currently able to process the following categories of organic materials:

  • Liquid & solid manures from Intensive Livestock Operations (beef, dairy, hog & poultry etc.)
  • Fats, Oil & Greases (FOG) from slaughterhouses, meat packing plants, canneries, restaurants, food processors, cafeterias & grocery stores
  • Food processing residues (oils seeds, grains, fruit & vegetables, corn, beet, potato, dairy products, alcohol, etc.)
  • Aerobic sludges from non-municipal wastewater treatment & industrial process water
  • Pet food residues
  • Separated kitchen & market residues from food processors, bakeries, pizza parlours, restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, hospitals, universities, households
  • Paunch manure from meat packing plants
  • Non-wood containing garden & horticultural residues from greenhouses, garden centers, flower shops, municipalities, households
  • Glycerol from industrial biodiesel production
  • Silage from farm operations (corn, grain, grass etc.)
  • Pulp & paper sludges from paper mills
  • Animal by-products from slaughterhouses and packing plants and animal carcasses from intensive livestock operations incl. Specified Risk Material (SRM)

History of the Facility

In 2013 Lethbridge Biogas LP officially opened the largest anaerobic digester/co-generation facility in Canada at the time. Designed and built by PlanET Biogas, the $30 million facility has a generating capacity of 2.8 MW – enough to power 2,800 homes. It was built such that it has the capacity to expand to produce as much as 4.2 MW in the future with the addition of new generating units.

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

Terrapure and East Penn Canada recognized for closed-loop battery recycling solutions

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Terrapure Environmental® and East Penn Canada recently announced that they received an Environment + Energy Leader Award for Project of the Year for their closed-loop, circular-economy approach to lead battery recycling. The Environment + Energy Leader Awards is a program recognizing excellence in products and services that provide companies with energy and environmental benefits, and in projects implemented by companies that improve environmental or energy management and increase the bottom line.

East Penn Canada collects spent batteries from its customers and ships them to Terrapure to break the batteries down to their base components for recycling. Terrapure processes and refines the lead to East Penn’s specifications, and it is then returned to East Penn’s battery manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania for use in new batteries.

“This approach is a real win-win,” said Ross Atkinson, Senior Vice President of Battery Recycling at Terrapure. “It provides East Penn a closed-loop recycling process for their batteries, ensuring a beneficial reuse of a valuable commodity, while also helping preserve a finite natural resource. We’re proud to be recognized for our battery-recycling efforts.”

“Not only does Terrapure’s recycling process provide a circular-economy solution for a portion of East Penn’s lead batteries, it also takes 60 percent less energy to produce recycled lead, helping to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Mike Bouchard, President East Penn Canada.

While the overall caliber of entries was exceptionally high this year, judges agreed that East Penn and Terrapure’s closed-loop recycling process demonstrates impressive results. One judge noted: “Building a closed-loop circular-economy system is a significant challenge and expense. Great to see an investment that will impact a broad sector, since lead batteries are used in so many products, both consumer-focused and manufacturing/industrial. The entry provides multiple environmental management results, including preventing waste and promoting reuse, reduced energy consumption for production, and reduced waste to landfill.”

This is the fourth consecutive year Terrapure has been honoured with an Environment + Energy Leader Award. Previously, the company was recognized for its innovative centrifuge technology, its oil-recycling program and its innovative use of biosolids to remediate a mine site with Vale Canada.

“With rapid advancements and a near-constant rate of change in the field, sustainability and energy professionals had to prove to our judges that they were really the best of the best this year,” said Sarah Roberts, Environment + Energy Leader publisher. “With a highly respected – and critical – judging panel and a strict set of judging criteria, entrants faced an extremely high bar to qualify for an award.”

Terrapure receives approximately 10 million batteries annually and produces 125,000 metric tonnes of recycled lead per year, recovering 99 percent of batteries in Canada and diverting them from the landfill.

About East Penn Canada

East Penn Canada specializes in the distribution and safe recovery of lead batteries in Canada. East Penn Canada is headquartered in Ajax, Ontario and operates the largest Canadian distribution and recovery network supported by 17 fully stocked warehouses, a company owned fleet and over 300 employees of battery solution experts.

About Terrapure

Terrapure Environmental is a Canadian provider of essential environmental and industrial services for industrial, commercial and institutional customers, including those in the manufacturing, mining, municipal, oil and gas, pulp and paper, refining and petrochemical, transportation, and utilities sectors. Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, the company employ approximately 2,000 people and operate an integrated network of over 70 locations across
Canada.

U.S.: Expansion of a New Mapping Tool For Managing Debris

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently announced the nationwide expansion of an interactive dataset that maps recyclers and landfills for the planning, response, and recovery of debris. This debris recovery tool has already proven valuable in training exercises and response activity to natural disasters.

“EPA is prepared to help communities more rapidly recover from natural disasters,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA’s debris recovery tool will assist federal, state, local and tribal emergency personnel to quickly identify recycling, composting, and disposal facilities near affected areas that may be able to accept disaster debris.”

The expansion of the recovery tool was supported by the E-Enterprise Initiative that emphasizes collaboration and data sharing among EPA, states, and tribes. The recovery tool advances EPA’s goals of recycling and material recovery following natural disasters, such as hurricanes, and is one of several resources mentioned in EPA’s Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance.

The recovery tool can also assist with debris management planning by identifying potential facilities before a disaster occurs, which can help communities recover faster. Better management of debris may reduce injuries, minimize or prevent the environmental impacts of mismanaged wastes and ultimately support compliance with environmental regulations.

Early adoption of the interactive tool in EPA’s Region 5 office has already led to successful disaster debris management planning for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and tornado response by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on EPA’s debris recovery tool, visit https://www.epa.gov/debris-recovery-map.

For more information on EPA’s Planning for Natural Disaster Debris guide and managing materials and wastes for homeland security incidents, visit: https://www.epa.gov/homeland-security-waste.

For more information on the E-Enterprise Initiative, visit: https://www.epa.gov/e-enterprise.

For more information on EPA’s emergency response program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/emergency-response.

Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)