Free Webinar Impact of COVID-19 on Waste Management

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The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is hosting a webinar on April 29th at 7 am EDT to discuss the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on waste management.

About the Webinar

What impact does COVID-19 have on waste management worldwide? How can we keep waste management uninterrupted, safe, and focused on protecting public health?

The webinar speakers, from the ISWA Board and Scientific & Technical Committee, will discuss waste management in these unprecedented times during this 1 hour roundtable.

This webinar is intended for all working in the waste management sector who want to get expert insight into the latest information, best practices, and recommendations of waste management and COVID-19.

ISWA and COVID-19

Over the last few months almost every country worldwide has had to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. The first wave of quarantines throughout the world will create serious social and political impacts, and have already required a quick response from the waste industry.

ISWA has gathered best practices from their national members and also created recommendation based on multiple expert collaborators within the ISWA network. Please take a look at https://www.iswa.org/iswa/covid-19/ for more information.

The ISWA is an independent and non-for-profit association working in the public interest to promote and develop sustainable waste management. ISWA has members in more than 60 countries.

Timeline extended for Ontario Blue Box Transition Plan

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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.

Waste-to-Fuel Facility planned near Medicine Hat, Alberta

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Canada’s Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. (CNSX:CMC and OTCQB: CWSFF) recently announced that its joint-venture (JV) partner had found a suitable location for their facility that will be designed to convert waste into renewable fuels.

The JV partner, Renewable U Medicine Hat Inc., has secured an agreement in principle to purchase 32.4 hectares of land in Cypress County, Alberta. The land is situated within the approximately 3-kilometres from the town of Medicine Hat.

Renewable U Medicine Hat has also informed Cielo that is has funding in place to close the purchase and sale agreement, subject to numerous conditions, before or on July 1, 2020, the waste-to-fuel company said.

The planned facility will be engineered to grind multiple waste feedstocks and convert them into renewable fuels that can be blended into conventional highway transportation, marine and aviation fuels.  It is estimated that the cost to build and commission the facility will be $50 million.

Initial production output is seen at 32.7 million litres of renewable fuels per year on 65,000 tonnes/year of feedstock. The partners contemplate to keep the facility running for 341 days a year.

Cielo expects the construction phase to employ around 50 to 70 people. Once the production starts, the facility will provide some 25 full-time jobs, the company said.

About Cielo Waste Solutions Corp.

CIELO Waste Solutions Corp. is a publicly traded company with its shares listed to trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) under the symbol “CMC”, as well as OTC Markets Group, on the OTCQB, under the symbol “CWSFF”.  CIELO’s technology transforms landfill garbage into renewable high-grade diesel and aviation jet fuel. CIELO’s proven and patent-pending technology is currently being deployed in the Company’s Aldersyde, Alberta Renewable Diesel Facility, where wood waste is currently being converted into renewable fuels.

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

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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Australian City Looking at Smarter Approach to Waste Management

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The City of Canterbury Bankston in Australia recently received $2 million in funding under Australia’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program to work on a project called Closing the Loop on Waste.  Under the project, the city will investigate how it can deliver superior waste management customer service to residents using technology.

These City’s waste management team face several challenges in their quest to manage city waste effectively and efficiently. Other city officials may also relate to the following challenges:

Manual Process: The process of picking up and inspecting waste bins is very manual with little automation, which makes it quite time-consuming.

Real-Time Issues: The process is not well equipped to deal with real-time operations. For example, if an urgent job comes in, it requires phone calls to find someone who can handle it. There is also not a very good view of where all the trucks are in real-time throughout the day.

Data Accuracy: The city knows how many properties they service, but not exactly how many bins are picked up. Bins are also inspected manually, which can result in data errors.

Communication with the Community: The system currently doesn’t allow for proactive communication with citizens to let them know what is happening; instead, they react to citizen requests after they come in, which have to come in by phone call because online/mobile reporting is not set up.

The overall focus of the project is to improve waste management by using things like GPS for trucks, cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence. Thinking big picture, the Waste Management Team for the City is also looking into how the data they gather in this project can improve other aspects of the City. Although the project is about waste management and sustainability, the main goal is always to improve the overall operations and quality of life in the city. Specific results that Closing the Loop on Waste will hope to achieve include the following:

  • Use advanced analytics to detect bin contamination, identify when waste bins have been missed, and investigate illegal dumping

  • Upgrade residents’ access to information regarding bin collections days and other programmed services

  • Use GPS data and live traffic information, to minimize potential delays on collection routes

  • Enable residents to request services or report incidents, via a real-time and customized format, that takes into account the diversity of the local community

  • Provide residents with notifications, when jobs they’ve requested are completed

  • Enable residents and organisations to upload images of dumped rubbish, which can be assessed before removal

Smart Cities group

COVID 19 Disrupts Cross-Border Waste and Recyclables Flow

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Written by Jonathan D. Cocker, Baker McKenzie and Peter Hargreave, Policy Integrity Inc.

COVID 19 Disrupts Cross-Border Waste and Recyclables Flow

In light of all the actions being taken by all levels of government to address the spread of the coronavirus, it is worth considering its impact on the waste management sector in Canada.  For most, how waste is collected and where it is taken, is not a daily consideration.  And yet, it is one of the most important public health and safety considerations.

Canadian Waste Industry Vulnerable to US Shutdown

In Ontario for instance, roughly one-third of the Province’s waste disposal needs are met by landfills in the United States.  That equates to 3.2 million tonnes of waste a year or roughly 9,000 tonnes per day. While other Canadian provinces do not have the same reliance on out-of-country disposal, many are reliant on a degree of waste materials being shipped across the border.

The free movement of these materials across the US border is an important element of the current Canadian waste management system.  In the last two decades, we have dealt with a few potential disruptions to this flow of materials.

  • The terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 provided a first indication of the potential vulnerability when US border access was constrained.  The immediate closure and proceeding long lines at the border lasted for several days afterward. The Ontario Ministry of Environment, for instance, had to facilitate emergency measures to ensure waste could be managed in the interim period.
  • After a number of waste truck rollovers in Michigan in the early 2000s, local Senators threatened legislative action to restrict waste crossing the border. This led to an agreement between the state of Michigan and Ontario municipalities in 2006, to end the export of municipal waste (specifically from the GTA) to Michigan by 2010. The province helped facilitate the agreement, and as a result, the state of Michigan dropped all legislative initiatives to stop waste imports. The agreement did not include non-residential waste. By 2010, Ontario municipalities had stopped sending residential waste to Michigan. For a time, overall waste shipments to the U.S. declined, but since 2010, non-residential waste export to the U.S. has steadily increased.
  • Concerns were also raised again as part of the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2018 that there could be potential for restrictions on the movement of goods.

Any impact on the movement of waste as a result of a closure to the border, would necessitate the management of this roughly 9,000 tonnes of additional waste domestically.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures?

As in 2001, the inability to transfer waste to the United States would likely necessitate potential changes to environmental permits (such as Environmental Compliance Approvals in Ontario) or governmental emergency declarations / measures to allow for waste receiving sites to increase their annual daily maximum limits. Provincial regulators have been prepared in the past in granting the necessary permissions, and are likely doing similar work  now to ensure the waste industry is not at risk of willful non-compliance.

It may also be the case that some of these waste volumes don’t easily find an alternate receiving site, putting the collectors and/or haulers in the difficult position of potentially operating an unlicensed waste storage facility.  Provincial governments will need to think through these situations including requiring certain sites to accept materials.  In short, there are no simple solutions, but proper planning across the country can at least reduce risks.

Hazardous Recyclables and Hazardous Waste Movement Compliance

In the case of hazardous materials for which no clear alternate home is available in Canada, the situation is even more precarious.   Internationally, no less than 99% of all (lawful) hazardous recyclables (and hazardous waste) exported from, or imported to, Canada are with the United States.  International wastes are still regulated in Canada under the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations, which has yet to be replaced by the long-proposed and more business-friendly Cross-border Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations.  

The Export and Import law currently requires certifications from the holder that any recyclable or waste which is not successfully transferred across the border will be lawfully disposed of in Canada consistent with the approved recycling or waste activity under which the materials were to be transited to the United States.  

A closed border will, in at least some circumstances, put that certification to the test as not all materials exported to the United States have an alternate recycling or disposal facility in Canada.  This is increasingly so with the growth of more specialized and regionally-servicing facilities in US states which capture both Canadian and American materials.  

Some Canadian Recyclers Dependent Upon US Material 

The reverse also creates challenges for the waste industry as some Canadian recyclers are economically dependent on US material.   The disruption of the needed supply of US-originating materials into specialized recycling and disposal facilities in Canada can quickly create a situation where insufficient material volumes makes the facilities no longer viable, leaving the Canadian materials also without a home.

In other words, the growth of integration, particularly in respect of hazardous recyclables and discrete hazardous wastes makes a border shutdown acutely challenging for the Canadian recycling and waste industry.

Contingency Planning to be Developed?

It is likely an overreaction to anticipate that US-Canada integration in resource recovery and waste disposal will come to an end with the current closure of the border.   The economies of scale and lower cost disposal capacity in the United States will presumably reinvigorate this international trade once the worst of COVID-19 has passed.

There may, however, be a growth in contingency planning in respect of Canadian waste and recycling capacity, recognizing a myriad of events may give rise to future US border closures and the Canadian waste industry needs to be prepared.


About the Authors

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. 

Peter Hargreave, President of Policy Integrity Inc., has over 15 years’ experience in providing strategic advice in the development, implementation and oversight of public policy. Over his professional career, he has developed a strong network of relationships with regulators, public and private organizations, and other key stakeholders involved in environmental issues across Canada, the United States and abroad. 

What Power Does Canada Have to Restrict Single-Use Plastics?

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Written by Jonathan D. Cocker, Baker McKenzie and Peter Hargreave, Policy Integrity Inc.

With all of the talk from the Government of Canada about the coming laws targeting single-use plastics (SUP), it’s worth asking whether the Parliament has such powers and what’s needed for them to act on SUP.   After all, the federal government has ceded much of its role to the provinces and territories which regulate over environmental protection generally, including most waste management matters, and some provinces have expressed hostility and a willingness to commence legal challenges to any encroachment on their jurisdiction, often on environmental matters such as climate change.   

Regional exceptionalism has become the norm as the federal government has for decades left the provinces and territories to take the lead without national coordination. As a result, the federal approach to SUP which will inherently value (in some measure) national consistency over regionalism will have difficulty in establishing balance, particularly given that some provinces rely upon plastics production as critical revenue sources.  So where exactly does the federal government believe they possess the powers to fulfil their promises to impose a SUP law across Canada?

CEPA and Toxic Substances

The federal government will, by all accounts, attempt to use Part V of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Controlling Toxic Substances.   Specifically, Environment and Climate Change Canada has the power to regulate plastics under section 90(1) of CEPA, if satisfied that the substance is toxic, to place them on the List of Toxic Substances, which is Schedule 1 to CEPA. 

Findings of toxicity were made for plastic microbeads in toiletries in 2017. Section 64 defines a substance as toxic if

“it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.”

On the Toxic Substances List already are substances Canadians would recognize as inherently dangerous such as lead and mercury.  In contrast, the federal government would be seeking to make a common household material, broadly used to contain and preserve our foods, medicines, etc. equivalent under CEPA to these clearly toxic substances.  It would be a difficult argument to claim that plastics are toxic at all times and for all purposes.    

The ECCC presumably intends to assess plastics as toxic on a more narrow and functional basis – namely that plastics become plastic pollution as they degrade over time, principally as waste material, especially when not managed properly at the end of life.  As waste management is admittedly a provincial/territorial area of legislative authority, the toxicity claim would blur jurisdictional lines.  In short, it’s not as straight forward as the federal government has suggested. 

The Test to Establish Plastics are Toxic

Curiously, while the test for plastics to be placed on Schedule 1 List is that plastics are toxic, the considerations the ECCC are to adopt in assessing a substance are expanded under section 68 to whether a substance is toxic or is capable of being toxic.  The considerations include:

  1. whether short-term exposure to the substance causes significant effects,
  2. the potential of organisms in the environment to be widely exposed to the substance,
  3. whether organisms are exposed to the substance via multiple pathways,
  4. the ability of the substance to cause a reduction in metabolic functions of an organism,
  5. the ability of the substance to cause delayed or latent effects over the lifetime of an organism,
  6. the ability of the substance to cause reproductive or survival impairment of an organism,
  7. whether exposure to the substance has the potential to contribute to population failure of a species,
  8. the ability of the substance to cause transgenerational effects,
  9. quantities, uses and disposal of the substance,
  10. the manner in which the substance is released into the environment,
  11. the extent to which the substance can be dispersed and will persist in the environment,
  12. the development and use of alternatives to the substance,
  13. methods of controlling the presence of the substance in the environment, and
  14. methods of reducing the quantity of the substance used or produced or the quantities or concentration of the substance released into the environment;

As this is a list of considerations and not a strict legal test, no particular item may be necessary or sufficient for the federal government to declare plastics are toxic – there is likely considerable latitude where the science supports concerns over environmental harm.

Does the Draft Assessment Provide Sufficient Scientific Support?

On January 31st, 2020, the ECCC released its draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution.   The assessment was not focused upon plastics itself, but rather on plastics when it comes pollution.   This might be understood as an assessment of how plastics are capable of being toxic and not a study on the inherent toxicity of plastics, which has a separate assessment process.  This itself is a departure from the ECCC’s common assessment process, although used for microbeads as arguably the first of those lifecycle toxicity tests.

The findings from the draft Assessment, still in consultation until the end of March, are limited to the pollution (read: waste) effects of plastics and not plastics absent their current usage:

The purpose of this report is to summarize the current state of the science regarding the potential impacts of plastic pollution on the environment and human health, as well as to guide future research and inform decision-making on plastic pollution in Canada. It provides a review of the available information on plastic pollution, including its sources, occurrence, and fate, as well as on the potential effects of plastics on the environment and human health.

It’s also notable that the draft Assessment is identifies as a “survey” of existing science and anticipates further research on plastics, even though the assessment is to serve as to “guide regulatory activities”. 

This report is not intended to quantify the risks of plastic pollution on the environment or human health, but rather to survey the existing state of science in order to guide future scientific and regulatory activities.

The broad remedial powers of the ECCC under CEPA likely cure these defects in science for a finding of plastics as toxics, but proceeding to regulation from the draft Assessment alone may open the ECCC up to challenges that more is needed before such as determination can be made. The ECCC seems to leave the door open to more science, perhaps as much due diligence as inquiry.

It is also worth noting that the regulation of SUP in the name of plastic pollution mitigation aligns with Canada’s commitments under the Ocean Plastics Charter. Such an agreement does not however vest the federal government with implementation powers it does not already have.

So Which Plastics Would Be Declared Toxic?

The draft Assessment divides plastics into two categories:  microplastics (5mm of less) and macroplastics (more than 5mm).   There is some other discussion regarding alternative plastics, such as biodegradable, compostable and bioplastics, but these arguably aren’t sufficiently addressed in isolation in the draft Assessment to warrant findings specific to these alternatives.   

It’s likely that each of microplastics and macroplastics will be the subject of distinct regulatory control measures on behalf of the ECCC under the coming law, with microplastics perhaps attracting the greater restrictions given the greater nexus to contamination.   After all, “microbeads” of 5mm or less are already listed as a toxic substance on Schedule 1.  

It’s also clear that the federal government views SUP as a more pressing matter in light of the 2021 implementation by member states of the European Union’s (EU) Single-Use Plastics Directive and the Ocean Plastics Charter.  In fashioning a Canadian version of a SUP law, it’s worth understanding what regulatory instruments the ECCC would have under CEPA.

The Range of Control Measures Available

Once some category of plastics are deemed “toxic”, the ECCC inherits a considerable range of control instruments to regulate those plastics.  Section 93 of CEPA provides the ECCC ability to control:

  1. the quantity or concentration of the substance that may be released into the environment either alone or in combination with any other substance from any source or type of source;
  2. the places or areas where the substance may be released;
  3. the commercial, manufacturing or processing activity in the course of which the substance may be released;
  4. the manner in which and conditions under which the substance may be released into the environment, either alone or in combination with any other substance;
  5. the quantity of the substance that may be manufactured, processed, used, offered for sale or sold in Canada;
  6. the purposes for which the substance or a product containing it may be imported, manufactured, processed, used, offered for sale or sold;
  7. the manner in which and conditions under which the substance or a product containing it may be imported, manufactured, processed or used;
  8. the quantities or concentrations in which the substance may be used;
  9. the quantities or concentrations of the substance that may be imported;
  10. the countries from or to which the substance may be imported or exported;
  11. the conditions under which, the manner in which and the purposes for which the substance may be imported or exported;
  12. the total, partial or conditional prohibition of the manufacture, use, processing, sale, offering for sale, import or export of the substance or a product containing it;
  13. the total, partial or conditional prohibition of the import or export of a product that is intended to contain the substance;
  14. the quantity or concentration of the substance that may be contained in any product manufactured, imported, exported, offered for sale or sold in Canada;
  15. the manner in which, conditions under which and the purposes for which the substance or a product containing it may be advertised or offered for sale;
  16. the manner in which and conditions under which the substance or a product containing it may be stored, displayed, handled, transported or offered for transport;
  17. the packaging and labelling of the substance or a product containing it;
  18. the manner, conditions, places and method of disposal of the substance or a product containing it, including standards for the construction, maintenance and inspection of disposal sites;

It is likely that a suite of these measures will be adopted distinctly for microplastics and macroplastics. (It’s not clear if alternative plastics would attract their own measures.)  The EU’s Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive may be instructive, it sets out a number of measures including:

  • Aggressive recycling targets for beverage containers (77% by 2025 and 90% by 2030);
  • Design requirements for beverage containers (i.e., recycled content and tethered caps);
  • Labelling requirements for products that are often not disposed of properly (tobacco products, beverage cups, wet wipes and sanitary towels);
  • Expanded producer responsibility requirements; and
  • Bans by 2021 on single-use plastic cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons; all products made of oxo-plastic; cups, food and beverage containers made of polystyrene foam.

Enter the Provinces

It is generally understood that most jurisdictions in the EU will achieve most of the outcomes in the Directive through EPR provisions. Given the diversity in approaches to EPR in Canada that could prove difficult to achieve as these efforts have firmly and institutionally rested with the provinces (and increasingly, territories) in Canada.  The ECCC is playing catch up and there are some questions related to their legislative authority over this mechanism without the support of the provinces. A comprehensive strategy around SUP will necessarily involve provincial /territorial for which the 2018 Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment’s (CCME) Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste was just the beginning of a new age of cooperation on (plastic) pollution.


About the Authors

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. Mr. Cocker was recently appointed the first Sustainability Officer of the International Bar Association Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on environmental issues and has authored numerous publications including recent publications in the Environment and Climate Change Law Review, Detritus – the Official Journal of the International Waste Working Group, Chemical Watch, Circular Economy: Global Perspectives published by Springer, and in the upcoming Yale University Journal of Industrial Ecology’s special issue on Material Efficiency for Climate Change Mitigation.

Peter Hargreave, the President of Policy Integrity Inc., has over 15 years’ experience in providing strategic advice in the development, implementation and oversight of public policy. Over his professional career, he has developed a strong network of relationships with regulators, public and private organizations, and other key stakeholders involved in environmental issues across Canada, the United States and abroad. He has extensive experience in assessing waste management policies at the federal, provincial, and municipal level across the country. He has also played a key role in leading major research efforts in the waste management sector including data capture and analysis, and understanding the economic and environmental impacts of various waste management activities.

New B.C. Program aims to keep organic waste from landfill

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The Government of British Columbia recently announced that it is partnering with the federal and local governments on the new Organics Infrastructure Program. The $30-million program will help communities expand their infrastructure, diverting organic waste away from landfills. It will also help the Province meet its CleanBC commitment to help communities achieve 95% organic waste diversion for agricultural, industrial and municipal waste.

Organic waste currently represents 40% of material sent to municipal landfills in B.C. and generates 7.5% of the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In total, the projects are expected to reduce nearly 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the next decade. This is like removingmore than 100,000 cars from the roads for a year.

The Organics Infrastructure Program combines $10 million in federal funding from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund, $10 million from the Province, and $10 million in matching funds from local government applicants and their partners. Among the projects are two from the Central Kootenay Regional District — Central landfill composting facility and the Creston landfill composting facility — that, together, provide the region with food-waste processing capacity for the first time. Another recipient is the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality’s worm composting facility. It will divert organic waste from Fort Nelson’s landfill and create high-quality soil.

“This program will help communities, the Province and Canada meet our shared climate action goals,” said George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “It will also help build B.C.’s clean economy by creating green jobs and setting the stage for the economic opportunities that come from the reuse of organic materials.” 

“Investing in better infrastructure for waste management will divert organic waste from municipal landfills and turn it into clean and useful compost,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Initiatives such as this one are key to fighting climate change and helping us reach net-zero emissions by 2050. I congratulate the Province of British Columbia for its leadership in this effort.”

Twelve projects have finalized agreements to date. Additional projects are expected to come on board in the coming months. The initial projects are expected to break ground starting in the spring.

Organics Program Receipiants

The 12 projects in 10 B.C. that are to receive funding are listed below. Additional projects are expected to be approved in the coming months. The dollar values below represent the provincial funding portion only. The money will be distributed over three fiscal years to support project planning, design and construction.

Central Coast

  • Central Coast organics compost diversion initiative (Phase 1): $49,092
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 950
  • This project, led by the Central Coast Regional District, is the first phase of a composting facility that will allow Bella Coola to divert organic waste from its landfill for the first time and enhance services to the Nuxalk Nation.

Central Kootenay

  • Central landfill composting facility: $776,053
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 68,873
  • Creston landfill composting facility: $ 485,745
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 15,890
  • Two complementary projects, led by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, will provide processing capacity for food waste for the first time in the regional district. These projects represent strong partnerships within and outside the regional district as one of the facilities will also service part of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

Columbia Shuswap

  • Revelstoke composting facility: $100,000
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 61,465
  • This project, led by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, will allow residents and businesses from the City of Revelstoke and Electoral Area B to divert food waste from the landfill for the first time. Over half the waste entering the Revelstoke landfill is organic. This project will create a usable compost product, prolong the existing landfill life and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Comox Valley

  • Regional organic composting facility additional capacity: $484,815
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 37,489
  • This project, led by theComox Valley Regional District, means the communities of Campbell River, Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland will be able to compost an extra 1,625 tonnes of food waste per year, supporting the regional district’s waste diversion target of 70% by 2022.

East Kootenay

  • There are three projects being funded in the Regional District of East Kootenay that work together to support a regional system. These projects are in the Columbia Valley, Elk Valley and central subregions, providing coverage throughout the region.
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: Columbia Valley site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 25,442
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: central sub-region site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 13,539
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: Elk Valley site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 42,563

Kootenay Boundary

  • Regional District of Kootenay Boundary organics diversion expansion project: $1,182,006
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 2,873
  • This project will expand the regional district’s organics processing capacity to include food-waste materials from the industrial, commercial and institutional sector throughout the Boundary region and initiate food-waste collection for residents of Greenwood. This expanded facility will primarily process food waste, wood, yard and garden waste from the City of Grand Forks.

Northern Rockies

  • Northern Rockies vermicomposting(worm) facility: $222,546
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 2,273
  • This project will divert organic waste from Fort Nelson’s landfill through a vermicomposting facility; red wiggler worms work with fungi, bacteria and other invertebrates to transform organic matter into “castings,” which can be used in municipal landscaping or residential gardening.

Okanagan-Similkameen

  • Oliver landfill residential food waste compost facility: $400,000
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 4,014
  • This project, led by the regional district, provides the Oliver and Osoyoos landfill service areas with a new composting facility that will process residential food waste, agricultural waste and yard waste. This project is part of a larger regional strategy to manage organic wastes in the regional district. 

Summerland

  • Summerland organics processing facility: $790,500
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 24,548
  • The District of Summerland will benefit from the relocated organics processing site as the move will increase capacity, upgrade operational and environmental technology and create high-quality Class A compost streams. The project will divert additional organic waste, preventing it from being landfilled and, therefore, reduce greenhouse gases, while prolonging the existing landfill life.