Start-up receives $2.75M from SDTC to commercialize the manufacture of bioplastics from agricultural byproducts

, ,

Sustainable Canada Technology Canada (SDTC) recently announced that it had granted $2.75 million to EcoPackers, a Canadian cleantech company that converts agricultural byproducts into 100 percent plant-based and compostable alternatives to traditional plastic inputs.

EcoPackers Leadership Team

Conceived by CEO Nuha Siddiqui during her time as president of the University of Toronto chapter of the social entrepreneurship club Enactus, Ecopackers is on a mission to reduce the world’s reliance on single-use plastics.

The Toronto-based company, developed with support from the Creative Destruction Lab, got its start manufacturing biodegradable packing peanuts made from agricultural byproducts. It has since expanded into producing eco-resins that can be used by manufacturers in place of plastic.

Unlike many existing bioplastics, Ecopackers’ resin is designed to be compatible with existing manufacturing technologies and processes.

“We were one of the only eco-focused companies out there that wasn’t going against the plastic manufacturers – we were actually trying to work with them to develop products that worked with their technology,” Siddiqui, a Rotman Commerce graduate, told U of T News.

The all-woman leadership team behind Ecopackers – which also includes chief technology officer Chang Dong and chief operating officer Kritika Tyagi – is now working on pilot products with manufacturers around the world.

About SDTC

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is a foundation created by the Government of Canada to support Canadian companies with the potential to become world leaders in their efforts to develop and demonstrate new environmental technologies that address climate change, clean air, clean water and clean soil.

 

Free Webinar on True Zero Waste and the Circular Economy

, , ,

This webinar is a complimentary event open to the United States Green Building Coalition – Los Angeles (USGBC-LA) community members and the general public.  It is scheduled for May 13th at 11 am Pacific Daylight Time.

Topics of discussion on the TRUE Zero Waste and Circular Economy Overview – Webinar on May 13th (11 am PDT) include:

  • What is Circular Economy?
  • What’s the difference between Circular Economy and a really good recycling program?
  • Introduction to the basic concepts:
    • Waste = Food
    • Build Resilience Through Diversity
    • Energy from Renewable Resources
    • Think in Systems
    • True Zero Waste Certification overview

Without urgent action, global waste will increase by 70 percent on current levels by 2050, according to the World Bank’s new report. The make-take-waste way of doing things is coming to an end and if we do it right, we’ll create massive new economical and social opportunities!

During the webinar there will be a discussion on how businesses can create value by striving for zero waste, seeing products and materials as cycles, the role of creative solutions, and how you can contribute to make the transition to a Circular Economy.

SPEAKERS

 Denise Braun, CEO All About Waste

Denise has over seventeen years of experience in the sustainability field, starting in Brazil and then moving to the United States. She is the founder and principal of All About Waste – a woman and minority-owned sustainability and zero waste consulting firm based in Los Angeles, CA. Denise and her team provide a diverse range of services including solid waste data collection and analysis, circular strategic frameworks, green building certifications, zero waste programs and certification, training/educational workshops, and community outreach. She has worked in various capacities on over 150 LEED-certified projects, many of which have achieved the highest level of certification with no clarifications. Denise is currently working on several zero-waste and wellness projects. She worked on the first TRUE-certified zero waste high-rise commercial building in the world. Denise has been responsible for over 30 million square feet of waste audits and has developed and analyzed technical waste management solutions for a large variety of building types. Denise has presented at numerous lectures, workshops, and conferences, including the annual Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo, Net Zero Conference, the Living Building Collaborative Zero Waste Forum and the GreenBuild Conference & Expo. She currently has several accreditation and expertise such as: LEED AP,  WELL AP, ENV SP, TRUE Advisor, Fitwel Ambassador and sustainable supply chain. She also is sitting as a Board of Director at USGBC-LA.

 Ryan McMullan, CEO Lean Green Way

Over his career Ryan McMullan has led several Sustainability programs including in Toyota’s Corporate Responsibility department and Rice University’s Facilities & Engineering department.  These have included strategically developing and deploying environmental targets across a wide variety of functional groups, reporting on environmental progress, greenhouse gas inventories, and developing programs for zero waste, zero carbon, and zero water.  He now consults with companies like Lockheed-Martin, Walmart and Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) to help them establish leading sustainability strategies. He is an advisor to TRUE Zero Waste Certification at GBCI and the Environmental Leader Conference. He earned his Masters from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara and his Bachelor’s from Rice University.  At home he keeps busy improving the sustainability of his home in Long Beach, California, teaching his 10-year-old son to conserve resources and design games, and writing on his experiences.

German Researchers Discover Plastic-Eating Bacteria

,

Researchers in Germany recently published a research paper in Frontiers in Microbiology in which they describe the isolating a strain of bacteria that can degrade plastic.  The specific bacteria Pseudomonas sp. were able to biodegrade polyurethanes.  The plastic, specifically polyurethane, served as the sole source of carbon and energy for the bacteria.

Due to the variety in physical, chemical, thermal and mechanical properties, polyurethanes (PU)have a broad range of applications, Some of the main applications are detailed below:
• Flexible PUF: automobile seating, furniture, carpets.
• Rigid PUF: refrigerator, insulation board.
• Elastomers: footwear, adhesives, medical.
• RIM: automobiles (bumpers, side panels).
• Other: carpets, casting, sealants.

As PUs are used in so many every day applications and industrial uses, they enter the municipal solid waste stream, usually by way of discarded consumer and industrial products. These products frequently are durable goods with a long lifespan such as upholstered furniture, mattresses and automobile parts. By weight, approximately 1.3 million tons of waste PUs are generated each year in the USA alone. The largest market is for PUF (47% flexible and 28% rigid), followed by PU elastomers (8%).  North America represents around 30–35% of the world total consumption, with the remainder in Western Europe (around 40%), the Far East (around 15%) and the rest of the world (around 10–15%).

Polyurethanes, due to there diverse chemical composition, are very difficult to recycle.  Due to their high flammability, they are typically treated with flame retardants that may be carcinogenic.

“The bacteria can use these compounds as a sole source of carbon, nitrogen and energy,” says microbiologist Hermann Heipieper, from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ in Germany. “This finding represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle PU products.”

The discovery was made in the soil underneath a waste site containing an abundance of brittle plastics. Having spotted the strain, the scientists ran a genomic analysis and other experiments to work out the bacterium’s capabilities.  It will be some time before there is a commercial-scale bacteria-based solution to plastic waste challenge.

Canadian Research

In Canada, researchers from the University of British Columbia and industry partner Polymer Research Technologies are working together to develop technology that will allow polyurethane foam waste to be chemically recycled into polyols.  If successful, the research will lead to a commercial-scale process that can produce a reusable, recyclable, economical, and eco-friendly raw material alternative to petroleum-based virgin polyol.

 

Timeline extended for Ontario Blue Box Transition Plan

, ,

Stewardship Ontario, recently announced that the Ontario government had granted an extension for the submission of the blue box transition plan to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA).  Stakeholders now have until July 8, 2020 to submit input on how Ontario’s Blue Box recycling program should be transitioned to a full producer responsibility model.

Stewardship Ontario is a not-for-profit organization funded and governed by the industries that are the brand owners, first importers or franchisors of the products and packaging materials managed under recycling programs in the Province of Ontario.

The RPRA is an arms-length Ontario Government organization that was set up to support the transition to a circular economy and a waste-free Ontario.  The RPRA oversees three waste diversion programs- Blue Box, Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW), and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)– and their eventual wind up.

Now being developed by Stewardship Ontario, the plan was originally scheduled for submission to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) on June 30, 2020 but the timeline has been revised as follows:

  • Stakeholder feedback on transition plan proposals extended to July 8, 2020
  • Transition plan submitted to RPRA no later than August 31, 2020
  • RPRA approval maintains original deadline of December 31, 2020

Consultation materials supplied by Stewardship Ontario originally scheduled for the week of April 6 have been postponed and are expected to be made available to stakeholders shortly.

Stewardship Ontario will be reaching out to stakeholder group associations to schedule meetings and discuss initial feedback on the materials before the rescheduled consultation webinars.

Recycling and Organics Processing Programs suspended in Greater St. John, NB

, ,

The Fundy Region Service Commission, which is responsible for managing the waste management for the Greater St. John area in New Brunswick, has temporarily suspended the practice of separating waste into garbage, compost and recycling at the landfill, and blue bin depots have been closed until further notice. The suspension of service is to ensure worker health & safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although the curbside pick-up of blue bin recyclable and green bin organics will continue, all the material will be landfilled.

The Fundy Region Service Commission (the “Commission”) provide solid waste management, planning, building inspection services as well as collaboration of other services to the City of St. John, New Brunswick and surrounding municipalities.  The Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission is responsible for solid waste disposal and diversion in the Greater Saint John area, including Crane Mountain Landfill and the recycling and compost programs.

Chris Hand, Operations Supervisor at the Fundy Region Service Commission told CTV News that the reason for the suspension in the recycling and organics programs was due to worker health and safety.  Hand stated, “A lot of people don’t realize that when the recyclables come in and the compost as well, the organics, we have belts that that has to get across where there’s actually staff that has to intermingle with that waste.”

“The stories that we’re hearing, that COVID-19 can stay up to three days on porous plastics, 24 hours onto cardboard, and even with the strict PPE requirements in place with our staff, we just don’t want to take any of the chances with our staff at this time,” Harned said in the CTV News interview.

The Commission is asking residents to consider storing their compost and/or recycling for proper disposal at a later date. This will support our collective environmental responsibility and help save space at the landfill.  If it is not feasible to store the compost and/or recyclables for pick up at a later date, the Commission is still requesting residents to continue separating organics and recyclables as municipalities are charged lower rates for these streams than garbage by the Commission.  Also, it will help keep the correct routine when the pandemic ends.

 

 

 

Emterra Environmental wins waste collection contract for Oxford County, Ontario

, , ,

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.

 

 

Fun with Waste: Recycling Quizzes

,

There are a number websites that have offer recycling quizzes to test your knowledge.  If you score 100% on the quizzes below, you are a true waste management professional and should be proud of yourself.

 

 

Recycling Operations Safety Precautions: COVID-19

, , ,

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

Thunder Bay expanding plastics recycling program

,

As reported by the CBC, Thunder Bay City Council recently renewed the contract for waste collection with GFL Environmental which includes an expansion of its curbside plastics recycling program to include all #1 (PETE) and #2 plastics (HDPE), including clamshell containers.

The contract with GFL is for seven years at a cost of $3 million per year.

Jason Sherband, the city’s manager of solid waste, told council there is a demand for more items to be included in the municipal recycling program. The expected cost of adding in all #1 and #2 plastics is about $60,000 per year.

That total will be offset by a new revenue sharing component, where the city and GFL will split any revenue 50/50 from the recycled materials. However, the deal allows for the city to also contribute to any losses in revenue.

The Council decided against expanding the plastics recycling program to include plastics #3 through #7 as the collection and processing costs of $180,000 per year would not likely be off-set by the revenue generated through their sale.

Council agreed to have City staff study the issue including plastics #3 through #7 and report back to Council before the 2021 budget.  With the Province of Ontario committed to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the costing of blue box programs is likely to shift from municipalities to producers.

The changes to the recycling program in the city are still for households and multi-residential properties only. Thunder Bay does not have a municipal recycling program for businesses.

North Bay Banning Textiles from Landfill

,

The City of North Bay, a community approximately 50,000 about 350 km north to Toronto, recently banned the collection and disposal of textiles at the City-owned landfill.

The ban is a result of a vote of City Council to discontinue the collection and disposal of textiles at the city landfill. A majority of council adopted a recommendation from the city’s infrastructure and operations committee to ban textiles from the Merrick Landfill and conduct an education campaign.

The textile ban is being taken, in part, to extend the life of the existing Merrick Landfill. Operations at the landfill began in 1995 and the projected lifespan is 19 years.

In 2019, Councillor Mac Bain tried to convince fellow councillors to implement the landfill ban on textiles. He argued that used textiles should go to local charities like the Salvation Army and Rebuilt Resources who can then resell them. Torn and unsold clothing can be broken up and used as rags according to Bain.

The textile ban takes effect on April 22nd. City enforcement of the ban will not include waste collectors opening and inspecting garbage bags. The city also will not levy fines against individuals or businesses, and used textiles which cannot be donated, such as soiled or greasy rags, can still be thrown away.

It is estimated the the landfill ban of textiles could potentially divert an estimated 1,890 metric tons, of unwanted textiles each year in North Bay. Currently, approximately 85 of unwanted textiles are landfilled.