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.

Saskatchewan’s New Solid Waste Management Strategy

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The Government of Saskatchewan recently announced the new provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy, outlining a practical and sustainable strategy for short- and long-term waste management goals over the next 20 years.

Saskatchewan produces the second-highest amount of waste per capita in Canada at 842 kilograms of waste. Along with its federal, provincial and territorial partners, Saskatchewan has signed on to the Canada-wide aspirational goal of reducing waste generated per person by 30 per cent by 2030, and 50 per cent by 2040 from 2014 baseline levels. This means reducing waste to 589 kg/person by 2030 (30 per cent) and 421 kg/person by
2040 (50 per cent).

The majority of the waste generated in the province ends up in Saskatchewan’s 203 landfills, of which 186 are managed by municipalities and 17 are industrial/private landfills.

To move the province towards this future state, the Saskatchewan government strategy focuses on six goals:

  1. Enhance education, awareness and technical understanding of waste management best practices and the risks of improper practices across Saskatchewan.
  2. Encourage regional collaboration to enhance the cost effectiveness of waste management infrastructure.
  3. Provide a modern, efficient and effective regulatory system for waste disposal and management.
  4. Enhance waste diversion across Saskatchewan.
  5. Foster innovative and sustainable solutions to manage waste.
  6. Demonstrate government leadership in waste management.

To achieve the waste reduction targets, the government has made a number of specific targets under each of the six goals. For example, one specific commitment is to work with the federal government through the Investing in Canada Plan to close and decommission unsustainable landfills or enhance existing municipal or regional waste management
facilities. Another specific commitment is that continued support of innovation for waste management through initiatives such as the
Government of Saskatchewan Innovation Challenge.

The Solid Waste Management Strategy aligns with the Saskatchewan Growth Plan and will serve as the roadmap for waste reduction and management for the well-being of the province, its people and its future.

Other specific aspects of the strategy include the Household Hazardous Waste Regulations and Recycling Program as well as the Grain Bag Recycling Program.

Household Hazardous Waste Regulations and Recycling Program

The Government of Saskatchewan is paving the way for an important province-wide stewardship program for managing household hazardous waste (HHW). Although HHW makes up approximately one per cent of the waste stream in Saskatchewan, it poses a much higher risk of environmental impacts than other municipal waste due to its toxic nature.

In order to create a permanent, province-wide HHW program, the much-anticipated Household Hazardous Waste Product Stewardship Regulations came into effect on June 27, 2019. The regulations require manufacturers or distributors, vendors, importers, and retailers of household hazardous waste products to manage the collection and safe disposal of the products.

Once the product stewardship program has been approved by the Ministry of Environment, implementation of the program can begin to take shape.

The household hazardous waste program will be funded and operated by the industry that creates, imports or sells the products identified in the regulations, alleviating some of the costs for municipalities and taxpayers.

Grain Bag Recycling Program

The Government of Saskatchewan has approved a recycling program for agricultural plastics under The Agricultural Packaging Product Waste Stewardship Regulations. The program is the first of its kind in Canada and provides a responsible option for producers to return plastic grain bags for recycling. All sellers of grain bags are required to join an approved program.

The grain bag recycling program is operated by Cleanfarms on behalf of regulated retailers and manufacturers. Cleanfarms, an organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural waste, is currently operating 32 collection sites around the province. Continued growth of the program will expand the collection network in the years to come.

The grain bag recycling program is funded through an environmental handling fee (EHF) added to grain bags at the point of purchase.

Region of Peel Proposes Curbside Textile Recycling Program

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The Region of Peel, immediately west of Toronto, has proposed a region-wide program for residential curbside pick-up of textiles for recycling.

According to Peel Public Works, more than 7,700 tonnes of textiles are thrown out in Peel every year. If the curbside collection program is implemented, Regional officials estimate that more than 1,400 tonnes of materials could be collected for re-use annually with the remainder potentially being recycled.

If approved by Peel Regional Council (made up of elected officials from Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon), used textiles such as clothing, towels, and linens would be picked up on a regular basis with the aid of a registered charity partner.

Region of Peel Textile Collection Bin

Between 2017 and 2019, the region worked with The Kidney Foundation, Talize and Diabetes Canada to collect 22 tonnes of used textiles from 21,000 homes, as part of a curbside collection pilot.

More than 100 registered charities in Canada collect, redistribute and resell textiles. Many of the charities rely on individuals donating clothing directly at the store or at a collection bin.

Charities that collect donated clothing typically offer for sale about half of what they collect. Of what is displayed for sale, only about half of that will actually sell. At the Salvation Army, clothes have four weeks to sell before they’re replaced by the next wave of donations, according to Tonny Colyn, the national donations manager in Canada for the charitable organization.

Other Municipal Initiatives

In April, 2017, the City of Markham (north of Toronto) became the first municipality in North America ban textile waste at the curb. In 2018, the City of Markham, Ontario launched a textile recycling pilot project partially funded by a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Under the pilot, the city placed over 100 bins at city facilities and multi-residential properties. The ‘smart bins’ tracked the amount of textiles being donated for data-collection purposes and also sent out signals telling the city when they need to be serviced. The textiles that were collected were sorted for resale at charities or re-purposed into industrial rags, furniture padding, insulation, car seats and recycled fabrics.

As part of the pilot program, the City of Markham prepared a brochure to educate residents about the textile recycling program and what items were acceptable in the collection bins.

Used Textile Statistics

According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, the average Canadian purchase 70 new clothing items per per. In Ontario, according to the Toronto Environmental Alliance, 85% of the 500,000 tonnes of used textiles generated per year end up in landfills.   According to a waste audit conducted in Nova Scotia, textiles accounted for 10 per cent of the residential waste stream and 11.5 per cent of the industrial stream .

Recycling Textiles

The challenge with recycling textiles is that clothing is a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers. The recycling process is different depending on the material.

For textiles made from natural materials (i.e., cotton or wool), the typical recycling process involves the following steps:

  • The incoming unwearable material is sorted by type of material and color. Color sorting results in a fabric that does not need to be re-dyed. The color sorting means no re-dying is required, saving energy and avoiding pollutants.
  • Textiles are pulled into fibers or shredded, sometimes introducing other fibers into the yarn. .
  • The yarn is cleaned and mixed through a carding process.
  • The yarn is re-spun and ready for subsequent use in weaving or knitting. 
  • Fibers can also be compressed for textile filling such as in mattresses.

If the textiles are synthetic, recycling typically involves In the case of polyester-based textiles, garments are shredded and then granulated for processing into polyester chips. These are subsequently melted and used to create new fibers for use in new polyester fabrics.

Should Countries Outside of Europe Adopt EU Single-Use Plastics Law?

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Written by Jonathan D. Cocker, Baker McKenzie

The European Union’s landmark Single-Use Plastic (SUP) Directive is set to be enacted into member states’ national laws by 2021.  Some countries outside the EU have already signaled their intention, in all but name, to adopt consistent SUP laws, for good commercial and regulatory reasons.    

Confidence in the EU as the world’s standard bearers on environmental management, including product environmental regulatory matters, is in its ascendancy, particularly with initiatives such as the Circular Economy Action Plan and the recent Green New Deal.   

But questions must be asked – how clear and portable is the EU law and does local replication of the SUP Directive outside of Europe make sense?

SUP Directive to Regulate “Plastic”

In June of 2019, following months of dire warnings over the proliferation of plastic pollution, the EU passed the SUP Directive with the stated aim of reducing the impact of “certain plastic products” on the environment – namely many of the most prevalent plastic items regularly found on beaches in Europe, along with fishing nets, which together are said to account for a substantial amount of the (visible) marine plastic pollution. 

The SUP Directive adopts a variety of regulatory measures depending upon the material:  from outright bans to mandatory extended producer obligations to product labelling and consumption reduction obligations.   The core regulated material is “plastic” but, surprisingly, this is the beginning, not the end, of the story.

Natural v. Synthetic  – But Both Pollution

Definitions of plastics start with long-chain synthetic polymers which can be generated from petroleum or plant-based materials subjected to imposed polymerization and therefore regulated as a plastic.   Conversely, the SUP Directive excludes:

            Natural polymers that have not been chemically modified

Natural polymers are free of imposed polymerization but may also become synthetic through any “chemical modification” – though exactly when this occurs is more a question of arcane chemistry than environmental protection and, interestingly, might have reference to other regulatory treatments of the material.  In some instances, the designation of a natural v. synthetic polymer can be a distinction without a difference at it relates to environmental impacts. 

Non-Plastic Alternatives May Be Regulated 

The recital to the SUP Directive appears to recognize this quandary in expressing an intention (but not mandating) that (non-plastic) single-use products within a material category capturing plastics can also be regulated under the SUP Directive unless the product can be shown to have a substantially reduced impact on the environment relative to a regulated plastic alternative.  

In other words, industry should be prevented from making only a technical product content switch to a non-plastic category without any appreciable environmental gain.   But this moves the law away from strict international plastic product standards and brings in a host of local considerations.  

The Case of Wet Wipes – No Clean Distinctions to Be Made

The recent joint report by environmental consultants Eunomia and Reloop entitled What is Plastic?explores the tension between plastics taxonomy and environmental impacts using a concrete example of consumer wet wipes and points out that they can be made by synthetic or natural polymers, including man-made (non-plastic) cellulosic fibres (MMCFs), with similar environmental impacts.   

The report looks at whether either a technical or purposive reading of the SUP Directive would potentially capture certain MMCFs as equally harmful in wet wipes to plastic alternatives.  In conclusion, the competing goals of meaningful environmental protection (with a broad interpretation of SUPs) and potentially inconsistent Directive implementation across the EU remains unresolved, with some clarity hopefully coming through 2020 EU policy statements.  

This is not the turnkey plastics legal regime the rest of us might have hoped for.

If Environmental (not “Plastic”) Harm is the Question, the Answer Won’t Be the Same Worldwide

The final point in understanding what is coming under plastics regulation, regardless of which scheme is adopted, is that countries / regions will need to look at the prevalence and persistence of waste in their ecosystems in determining where to draw the line on material bans / regulatory restrictions, and, of course, it won’t necessarily be wet wipes which creates the greatest local challenges.  

In short, countries / regions need to do their own strategic thinking around environmental, commercial and social outcomes in developing a plastics law – simple local replication of the SUP Directive isn’t a viable option.

This article has been republished with the permission of the author. It was first published on the Baker McKenzie website.


About the Author

Jonathan D. Cocker heads Baker McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of the firm’s Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environmental and product compliance matters, including extended producer responsibilities, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, and contaminated lands matters. He assisted in the founding of one of North America’s first Circular Economy Producer Responsibility Organizations and provides advice and representation to a number of domestic and international industry groups in respect of resource recovery obligations.

Alberta Researchers develop method of accelerating anaerobic digestion up to 70%

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Researchers from the University of Alberta claim they have developed a method that accelerates the anaerobic digestion process by up to 70 percent. The key step to speed up the anaerobic degradation process is the addition of conductive materials to the feedstock such as granular activated carbon.

Environmental engineering master’s student Bappi Chowdhury (left) and supervisor Bipro Dhar in the lab with a “digester” they are developing that uses microbes to convert a mixture of food waste and fat, oil and grease into renewable biomethane. (Photo: Sean Townsend, Folio)

Environmental engineering master’s student Bappi Chowdhury and his colleagues at the University of Alberta found that the added activated carbon in the feedstock functions as a hub for microbes looking to dump or pick up electrons as part of biochemical processes. 

The results from the granular activated carbon to the organic feedstock of the anaerobic digester resulted in decomposition times being reduced from 20 to 25 days to just seven. The researchers also tested the degradation rate with the addition of the rock mineral magnetite and found similar, although not as effective, results.

Researchers also experiments with different levels of food waste with fats, oils, and grease (FOG). Based on there testing, they found that a mixture of 70 percent food waste and 30 percent FOG resulted in the fasted anaerobic digestion.

The supervisor of the research, Dr. Bipro Dhar, noted in an interview with Folio, the U of Alberta journal, “More work will first be needed. That means looking for even better and cheaper conductive materials, economic feasibility studies and scaled-up pilot projects.” 

CleanFarms sets up plastic recycling pilot for Alberta Farms

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The Agricultural Plastics Recycling Group (APRG) through Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) are moving ahead with their three-year pilot to collect plastic twine and grain bags from Alberta farmers.  The program is being run by CleanFarms, a Canadian non-profit industry stewardship organization committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural packaging and product waste.

Funding for the program is coming from the Alberta government and the administered by the Alberta Beef Producers are responsible for administering it.

Under the pilot program, farmers can drop off plastic at 20 collection sites around the province. Details on collection sites are online at the Collection Sites page at cleanfarms.ca.

Cleanfarms, who is responsible for running the Alberta pilot program, also runs grain bag recycling programs in Saskatchewan, and empty container recycling in Manitoba and Quebec.

Grain bags and twine represent 50% of all plastics generated on-farm in Alberta. The other 50% of plastics not included in the pilot collection are bale wrap and silage plastic, netting, supersacks, greenhouse film and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers.

Currently, there are two facilities in North America recycling grain bags; one in Canada and one in the USA. Current markets are washing and pelletizing grain bags for use in other blow-molding applications. More infrastructure is currently being built in Western Canada.

With respect to twine recycling, there are two recycling facilities in the United States. One recycler is washing and pelletizing for re-manufacture and the other is cleaning and shredding for use in the roofing industry.

Record Investments in Start-ups focused on waste packaging reduction

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According to an article in CrunchBase, there has been a record investment in cleantech start-ups focused on waste packaging reduction.

According to CrunchBase data, there are at least seven companies over the past three years that have raised over $20 million (U.S.) in capital that are in that are focused on sustainable packaging.

The eco-packaging start-up that has raised the most capital, Zume, originally started out as robot-enabled pizza prep and delivery business before pivoting to sustainable packaging after acquiring a company called Pivot Package. The company is focused on reducing the amount of food that is wasted by attempting to balance the supply and demand for food. Zume uses real-time food consumption data and predictive analytics to help food companies better predict demand, connect it with production and drive better resource decisions down the food supply chain.

One of the seven start-ups noted in the database is Ontario-based GreenMantra Technologies, a company that produces value-added synthetic waxes, polymer additives, and other chemicals from recycled plastic. GreenMantra claims that it is the first company in the world to up-cycle post-consumer and post-industrial recycled plastics into synthetic polymers and additives that meet specific performance requirements for industrial applications.

New Plastics Recycling Technology developed in Italy

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Saipem, an Italian company specializing in engineering, construction and drilling services and in the energy and infrastructure sectors, recently announced that it has signed a license agreement with ITEA S.p.A, another Italian company that has a patent for a plastics recycling technology. Under the agreement, Saipem will test the technology.

Originally designed for applications in the oil&gas sector, the technology is particularly suited to solid urban waste disposal, in particular unsorted plastic.

According to the two companies, plastic recycling from differentiated waste has been rather limited. Their review of recent studies leads to the conclusion that only 30% of material collected is recycled, leaving unsolved the problem of “Plasmix”, non-recyclable mixed plastics consisting of a group of heterogeneous plastics included in post-consumption wrappings which cannot be recovered as single polymers.

Mauro Piasere, COO of Saipem’s XSIGHT Division, stated in a news release, “Plastic recycling is an objective of great interest to Saipem, although further studies and technologies are required. The widespread application of the oxy-combustion process could facilitate recovery of the precious energy content of waste plastics while avoiding their dispersion. Use of this technology confirms our ability to adapt oil&gas technologies to new market demands and to support our clients by providing them with solutions targeted at achieving greater sustainability”.

ITEA technology involves a particular process of plastic decomposition called “flameless oxy-combustion”. This produces water, energy and pure CO2, which is not emitted into the atmosphere, but which is ideal for use as a product destined for the market.

ITEA claims that its process is very flexible, relatively simple and can be exploited even in small-sized facilities. If the testing is successful, it will demonstrate that it can recycle Plasmix in a sustainable way.

New York Enacts Legislation Requiring Paint Manufacturers to Establish a Program for Collection and Recycling of Unused Consumer Paint

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Written by Aaron Goldberg and Sarah Kettenmann , Beveridge & Diamond PC

New Yorkers will soon have a convenient way to ensure that their unwanted and unused paints are properly recycled. On December 16, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Postconsumer Paint Collection Program, a law that requires paint producers to collect, transport, reuse, recycle, and properly dispose of postconsumer paint in an environmentally sound manner. It applies to “architectural paint,” or “interior and exterior architectural coatings sold in containers of five gallons or less.” Architectural paint does not include industrial, original equipment or specialty coatings.

The law requires paint producers (either individually or collectively, for example through a non-profit organization) to register with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYDEC”) by July 1, 2020, and pay a registration fee. As part of the registration process, each producer or collective organization must submit its plan to comply with the new law, including its paint acceptance program, treatment, storage, transportation and disposal plan, and a list of locations within New York where consumers may drop off unused paint (which may include some municipal waste collection facilities, retail stores, and other facilities). 

Within 6 months after NYDEC approves the plan (or by January 1, 2021, if that comes later), the producers or collective organization must begin to implement their plans for collection and recycling/reuse/disposal of unused consumer paint. Paint manufacturers must also provide educational materials to help raise consumer awareness of the unused paint collection program.

The program will be financed by a new fee added to the price of architectural paint sold to retailers and distributors in the state (which may be passed on to consumers). The collection sites identified in the plan of the producers or collective organization are prohibited from charging for receipt of the postconsumer paints.  

Other states have already enacted similar paint stewardship programs, with help from the American Coatings Association and the Product Stewardship Institute.

This law is yet another step forward for New York’s growing Product Stewardship Initiative to address the health, safety, environmental, and social impacts of products and their packaging throughout all lifecycle stages. The State has adopted mandatory product stewardship requirements for managing several categories of products at their end of life, including electronics, rechargeable batteries, and mercury thermostats.  It has more limited programs for other end-of-life products, including beverage containers, cell phones, plastic bags, lead acid batteries, and waste tires.

This are was republished with the permission of the authors. It was first published on the Beveridge & Diamond website.


Aaron Goldberg applies his encyclopedic knowledge of hazardous waste regulatory law to help companies comply under federal and state laws—throughout all 50 states—and abroad. He holds an advanced degree in chemistry, has extensive training in economics, and is a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency consultant. His unique, multidisciplinary background—law, science, economics, and government—informs nearly every aspect of his work and makes him a useful bridge between attorneys, engineers, business managers, consultants, and regulators.

Sarah Kettenmann uses her knowledge of environmental law and the physical sciences to help clients solve complex problems in a conservation-minded manner. She maintains a diverse environmental practice, which includes litigation matters involving toxic torts and products liability and class action litigation concerning environmental and regulatory claims. Her regulatory practice includes advising clients on compliance with, and enforcement of, land use restrictions and remediation, and due diligence for waste facility permits under federal and state statutes. She also counsels clients on procedural and substantive aspects of permitting and environmental impact review, and related strategic planning for project development.

BIOREM Announces Joint Venture in China

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BIOREM Inc. (TSXV: BRM), an Ontario-based clean technology company focused on air emissions control, recently announced that it has entered into a joint venture with a Chinese company to establish Zhongjia Clean Technology (Wuhu) Co., Ltd in China.  The joint venture is another phase in BIOREM’s growth and development strategy for the country.

“We are pleased to take this next step in developing the Chinese market for our innovative brand of air emission abatement solutions.” said Derek S. Webb, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We pride ourselves in the speed and quality of our response to customer needs, and Zhongjia will provide the ideal vehicle to replicate that level of service to our important customers in China.”

The initial focus of the joint venture company will be to sell and service customers in need of air abatement services.  The company will provide a wide range of physical, chemical, thermal and biological solutions in China’s industrial heartland.

“While Zhongjia will provide greater coverage for BIOREM’s sales efforts in China,” continued Webb, “this Joint Venture is part of a wider effort for economic cooperation in the areas of technology transfer and cleantech innovation development between Canada and China.”

About BIOREM Inc.
BIOREM is a leading clean technology company that designs, manufactures and distributes a comprehensive line of high-efficiency air emissions control systems used to eliminate odors, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The company has more than 1500 installed systems worldwide. Additional information on BIOREM is available on our website at www.biorem.biz.