York Environmental Solutions LP acquires SC Disposal Inc.


York Environmental Solutions LP, headquartered in Vaughan Ontario, has acquired SC Disposal Inc. (based in Toronto), expanding its Canadian operations to include full service waste management and recycling services.

Founded by Alex and Spencer Shafran in North York, Ontario, SC Disposal has been providing waste and recycling collection services across the Greater Toronto Area for more than five years to commercial and residential customers. Alex and Spencer

will continue to oversee the existing team and disposal services offered and will be integral as the business transitions to York.

“This acquisition aligns well with our growth plan for York Environmental,” says Brian Brunetti, president and COO of York Group of Companies.

“This acquisition brings a strong team and management group that have earned them solid respect in the GTA and provides York the opportunity the expand our environmental service offerings. The synergies with York Demolition will be recognized immediately and will act as a growth catalyst for both divisions by providing a competitive advantage when competing against traditional companies in these sectors.”

Canadian based York Group of Companies has been in the industry for over 55 years, having provided excavation, demolition, environmental remediation and site preparation for some of the largest commercial and residential projects across the GTA and Southern Ontario. York Environmental Solutions LP was established in 2012 as an affiliate company to York Excavating, providing innovative and cost-effective environmental solutions to construction and land development clients. The team specializes in soil remediation, recycling, haulage and disposal with numerous commercial agreements in the industry.

Micron Waste Reports Outcome of Cannabis Waste System Trial

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Micron Waste Technologies (CSE: MWM, OTC: MICWF), a Vancouver-based developer of waste digesters for food and cannabis waste, recently reported positive results from the optimization of the Cannavore™ cannabis waste processing units with Aurora Cannabis Inc. (“Aurora”) (TSX: ACB). The company will now optimize the technology for sub-zero operations, as well as add computerized remote operating capabilities, following which Micron will commence to offer the units commercially.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the trial and are now moving into commercialization and will begin selling the units to the wider cannabis industry,” said Micron president Alfred Wong. “With the onset of adult usage in Canada and a rapidly growing international cannabis market, the number of operators in the sector has increased dramatically. Current waste disposal methods are expensive and inefficient. Our technology not only significantly improves the economics of cannabis waste disposal, but also streamlines compliance procedures, leading to a substantial reduction in time requirements to deal with waste handling. With our technology, customers will be at the forefront of innovation and environmental stewardship, showing leadership through commitment to clean air and water in Canada and around the world.”

Micron’s first Cannavore was trialed at Aurora’s Mountain facility near Calgary, which is one of seven Aurora facilities. Subject to Micron’s technology meeting certain milestones per a collaboration agreement announced in December 2017, Aurora has committed to installing Micron’s technology at its other facilities. Site visits have commenced for Aurora Vie in Montreal and Aurora Sky in Edmonton. Micron is developing additional units earmarked for these sites.

“With guidance from Aurora, we have developed a system which checks a box previously overlooked by cannabis cultivators,” said Dr. Bob Bhushan, Micron co-founder and chief technology officer. “Data capturing and processing is invaluable and now customers using the Cannavore can go beyond “seed-to-sale” and mine cannabis waste analytics to improve efficiencies, reduce staff time, aid compliance and help evaluate growing operation metrics.”

The industrial-grade Cannavore pulverizes and renders cannabis waste in combination with a proprietary blend of microbes and enzymes designed and developed by Micron. Importantly, as part of Micron’s full-system waste treatment platform, effluent from the digester is further treated to derive clean greywater which can be re-used in growing operations. Alternatively, the treated regulatory-compliant greywater from the Cannavore, which meets municipal discharge standards, can be safely discharged. Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in cannabis waste are further biologically treated via a proprietary process to denature cannabinoids present, keeping them out of watersheds where they could bio-accumulate.

Micron Waste Technologies Treatment System

The Micron Cannavore was engineered based on proven technology used by the Company in its Organic Waste Digester Unit. The world’s first closed-loop cannabis waste processing system was designed to Aurora’s specifications to be a clean technology solution to process organic waste generated from the growth and cultivation of cannabis, while mitigating concerns about the potential environmental impact.

The Cannavore Digester and the Organic Waste Digester units have been awarded an Industrial Design Certificate of Registration from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), with patent pending in the United States.

About Micron Waste Technologies Inc.

Micron Waste Technologies Inc is a technology company with over $6 million in working capital. The Company’s organic waste management system processes organic waste directly on-site and treats the resulting waste water into clean water which meets municipal sewage discharge standards. The treated water can be discharged directly into the sewer or recycled back into industrial or agricultural operations. The Company has developed the world’s first cannabis waste management system which denatures APIs from waste streams.  Micron is a public company with listings on the CSE: MWM, OTC: MICWF, and in Frankfurt: 7FM2.

New Waste-to-Fuel Technologies from Finland and Japan

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Two international companies recently showcased their respective waste-to-fuel technologies at a seminar held in Thailand and arranged by the Waste-to-Energy Trade Association.

BMH Technology of Finland promotes its waste-to-energy system as a high-quality substitute for fossil fuels, while Japan’s Hokuto Kogyo Company uses a hydrothermal technique to decompose waste. The two companies Wednesday presented at a seminar on the latest waste-management technologies, arranged by Waste-to-Energy Trade Association.

Kristian Batisto, business development engineer of BMH Technology, said his company’s high-tech waste-to-fuel process, can transform a wide variety of materials – including mixed municipal solid waste (MSW), commercial waste and industrial waste – into high-quality solid recovered fuel (SRF). That fuel, when burned, can generate high heat and energy, he said.

The company frames SRF as a “premium-grade waste fuel”, of a much higher quality for industrial use or for generating electricity than ordinary waste fuel or refuse derived fuel (RDF). The breakthrough lies in the additional processing that the input waste of SRF must go through to improve the quality and value of the output product.

The incoming waste must pass through many stages of processing by a “Tyrannosaurus” machine that gradually pulls out non-combustible materials such as glass and metal and then shreds the remaining combustible materials to create the solid recovered fuel output. That output can then be used as a fuel to power many kinds of industrial uses as well as electricity generation.

One key component of the Tyrannosaurus machine is  the MIPS® (Massive Impact Protection System).  With MIPS, the shredder spits out large pieces of metal that cannot be crushed automatically. Therefore there will be no damage to the shredder and the process line will not stop for any long periods of time. With the MIPS® system, no one has to take items out of the shredder which ensures a high safety level to the workers and longevity of the equipment.

“Compared to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, or even normal RDF, the SRF output from Tyrannosaurus not only has high calorific value and constant fuel quality, but it also emits very low pollution and greenhouse gases,” Batisto said.

TYRANNOSAURUS® Waste refining process example

“As our waste-processing system can efficiently separate out polluted substances within the input waste, only combustible waste is processed into SRF. It will emit a very small amount of pollution and greenhouse gases and meet the safe standards for dioxins and carbon dioxide.”

Batisto said many countries in the European Union as well as China, South Korea and India have already adopted this waste-to-fuel technology. The installation cost for a Tyrannosaurus waste processing system was around 3 million euros ($4.5 million Cdn.).


Japan’s Hokuto Kogyo company representative, Yasuno Tamio, previewed its hydrothermal treatment technology at the Thailand seminar.  Hokuto Kogyo claims it can transform the structure of waste by processing it in water at a very high temperature and under high pressure to turn it into useful materials – waste fuel and bioplastic.

Bioplastic are plastics created from biomass such as using wood powder or corn starch and are considered biodegradable.  The company claims the bioplastic is much safer for the environment, than plastic manufactured from petroleum hydrocarbons for a number of reasons including the lifecycle CO2 footprint.

Tamio said the technology could efficiently transform and detoxify waste, making it suitable for treating hazardous wastes such as infectious waste from hospitals. The hydrothermal technology process also generates no air pollution because no burning is involved.

Hokuto Kogyu claims its hydrothermal technology generates no dioxins and zero carbon dioxide (as there is no burning processes).  The resulting product can be utilized as an alternative fuel to coal.

Waste Container Monitoring Guide


OnePlus Systems Inc. recently released an Essential Guide to Waste Container Monitoring designed to assist in the understanding of how waste container monitoring works and its benefits.

Container monitoring uses sensors and powerful algorithms to detect the fullness level of different types of containers, including compactors, front-end loaders, street-side trash bins, and many others.  Depending on the type of container, sensors may also provide insight into the unit’s location, temperature, service trends, and maintenance requirements.  These devices optimize the waste management process by automatically notifying the hauler or appropriate contact when a container is at the optimal fullness level and ready to be picked up.

There are two main technologies for monitoring waste containers – hydraulic pressure sensors and ultrasonic sensors.  Hydraulic sensors measure pressure and are typically used for compactors.  Ultrasonic sensors use high frequency sound waves to determine the fullness of a container such as a waste oil tank, clothing donation bind, and C&I trash bins.

Compactor Monitoring System

Waste bin monitoring system









Waste container monitoring can help organizations save over 30% on waste transportation costs through reduced hauls.  Beyond cost savings, waste container monitoring can deliver benefits such as increased operating productivity and reduced carbon footprint.  There are a number of companies that are benefiting from waste monitoring solutions including Home Depot and Lowes.


Montreal Borough to Launch Reusable Diaper Pilot Project

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When my first child was born in the late 1990’s, my wife and I utilized a diaper service that would supply new diapers and take used ones back for recycling.  The service was not the lowest cost option but I felt a personal conviction to help out a start-up in the recycling business (it was also very convenient).  When my second child was born in the 2000’s, I sadly admit that I did not pay the extra money for the diaper recycling service.

Montreal Borough Launches Diaper Reuse Project 

The latest attempt to apply the 3Rs to the diaper business can be found in Montreal borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.   The borough is launching a two-year pilot project to subsidize the cost of reusable diapers and feminine hygiene products.

According to a report by CBC, the diaper and sanitary napkin recycling pilot project will start in mid-October.  The Borough will subsidize the cost of reusable diapers and feminine hygiene products, offering citizens up to $200 a year for cloth diapers and $100 every two years for menstrual products like reusable pads, sponges and cups.

“There are two things we’re looking at here: we want to do all we can for the environment, but we also want to help families save money,” said borough Mayor Sue Montgomery.

Mayor Sue Montgomery

In late June, the borough agreed to launch a diaper subsidy program in the fall — a program adopted by a number of municipalities across the province, including Verdun and Mercier—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

When the project gets underway, anyone living in the Borough who is interested in claiming the subsidy can file a request with the borough along with their receipts for reusable products. The subsidy will be offered on a sliding scale, with more to lower-income families.  The subsidy can also be used to cover the costs of used cloth diapers and material purchased to make cloth diapers or reusable menstrual products.

Before approving the measure, the borough compared the use of 1,000 disposable diapers to 1,000 reusable diaper changes — studying the impact from production to landfill.  Overall, cloth diapers use considerably less material, water and landfill space, producing 27 kilograms of solid waste versus the 200 kilograms produced by disposable diapers.  Cloth diapers, the borough found, have the potential of saving parents more than $2,500 in the long run despite the added laundry costs.

Region of Peel Experience with Recycling

For approximately a decade (1999 to 2009), the Region of Peel attempted to divert diapers from the waste stream.  Based on data from the Region of Peel (comprising the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton along with the Town of Caledon), diapers make up approximately 4.5 per cent of the waste stream.

By 2009, the Region of Peel came to the conclusion that there was no existing technology or business model in Ontario that would make the practice of recycling diapers feasible. Over the decade that it tried, the Region tried several measures to deal with diaper collection and recycling.  In 2009, the Region of Peel was spending more than $3 million a year to collect, transfer and dispose of diapers, incontinence and sanitary hygiene products.

The first attempt to collect diapers for recycling in the Region of Peel was in 1996.  The Regional Municipality enlisted the help of Mississauga-based Knowaste Technology, the only diaper recycling facility in the Greater Toronto Area.  The plant closed in 2008 due to poor market conditions (residents, like myself) had to pay extra for pick-up of diapers for recycling.

Knowaste is currently operating in Europe, where it owns and operates recycling facilities.  It also grants a license to use its pioneering technology and know-how to carefully selected local companies, on an exclusive basis.

Knowaste’s West Bromwich plant in the UK

When the diaper recycling program first started in Peel, residents were able to drop diapers off at public waste depots. However, that practice was scrapped a year later because of poor participation rates and rising collection costs.


Canadian WTE energy scores big with the U.S. Military

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Anyone familiar with the procurement process for the U.S. Military can attest that it can be time-consuming and byzantine.  With the buy-America/America First politics that currently exists south of the border, the contract signed between PyroGenesis, a Canadian company based in Montrel, and the U.S. Department of Defence is nothing short of amazing.

PyroGenesis recently secured contracts with the US Military totaling US$509,000 for general ongoing upgrades and maintenance.  The company said that work on these contracts has already begun, and all the contracts will be completed by the end of the year (Q4-2018).

“These contracts are a further testament to the level of confidence military organizations have in our experience and expertise,” said P. Peter Pascali, President and CEO of PyroGenesis. “It further underscores our ability to perform to the highest standards, military standards, and this is serving us well as we expand our other business segments into industries which have similar exacting demands.”

P. Peter Pascali, President, CEO, and Director of PyroGenesis

The company’s APT torch is at the heart of its plasma waste processing and waste to energy technologies and have been deployed by the US Department of Defense. Developed initially as a solution for waste destruction and subsequent energy recovery, the plume from an APT can reach more than 5000 degrees C, making it excellent tool for the transforming of materials to value-added products.

The torch can be modified for uses with different gases and reach power levels ranging from 50 kW to 500 kW.

“More than 20 years of working with the military has provided us with the credibility few, if any, companies of our size have,” commented Pierre Carabin, Chief Technology Officer of PyroGenesis.

This is the latest contract with the U.S. military for the company.  In January 2018, the company announced it had signed a number of contracts with the U.S. military totaling US$218,000.  As of January 2018, the combined value of PyroGenesis contracts with the U.S. military were in excess of US$1.4 million.

Florida WTE Installation

PryoGenesis WTE Plasma System at Hurlburt Field, Florida

An example of the work performed by PyroGenesis for the U.S. Military includes a Transportable Plasma Waste-to-Energy System at the U.S. Air Force Base in Hurlburt Field, Florida.  The system became operational in 2010.  It can handle a mixture of Municipal, Industrial, Hazardous and Biomedical Waste at a rate of 3,100 metric tons per year.  PyroGenesis provided a turnkey delivery of the facility, including building and infrastructure, project manager, equipment provider, and a subcontracted operator of the facility.

About Pyrogenesis

Pyrogenesis designs, develops, manufactures and commercializes advanced plasma processes.  The company provides engineering and manufacturing expertise, contract research, as well as turnkey process equipment packages to the defense, metallurgical, mining, additive manufacturing (including 3D printing), oil & gas, and environmental industries.  Pyrogenesis employs engineers, scientists and technicians who work out of the company’s Montreal office and 3,800 m2 manufacturing facility,

The core competencies of PyroGenesis is providing innovative plasma torches, plasma waste processes, high-temperature metallurgical processes, and engineering services to the global marketplace. The company’s operations are ISO 9001:2015 certified, and have been ISO certified since 1997.

PyroGenesis Canada Inc. is  listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (Ticker Symbol: PYR), and on the OTCQB Marketplace (Ticker Symbol: PYRNF).


Saskatchewan Municipals Renew Focus on 3Rs

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Two Saskatchewan municipalities, Saskatoon and Regina, have recently intensified their focus on the 3Rs in an effort to divert more waste from landfill.


In June, Saskatoon City Council voted to move gradually to composting of source separated organics and a Pay-as-you-Throw garbage collection model.  According to a consultant’s report commission by the City Council, Saskatoon was lagging far behind other municipalities in Canada.

The City is one of the last communities of its size to introduce blue bin recycling.  Saskatoon diverts less than a quarter of all waste from landfill while many other Canadian cities have been above the 50 per cent mark for years.

Saskatoon has a population of approximately 270,000 and is the largest City in the province and and the 17th largest Census Metropolitan Area in Canada, with a population of approximately 300,000.

One of the challenges of recycling in Saskatoon is the low density of the population.  The City has a density of 1,200 people per square kilometre.  Comparatively, Canada’s largest City, Toronto, has a density of over 4,000 people per square kilometre.

Under the proposed Pay-as-you-Throw Program, households would be charged a utility fee instead of paying for garbage through property taxes.  When implemented, households will pay a variable utility fee depending on the size of their garbage cart.

In early September, Saskatoon’s Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate services meeting heard administration recommend bi-weekly pickup, and dropping waste collection from property taxes, with residents instead paying a monthly utility bill.  According to an administrative report, there is an estimated property tax rate reduction of 3.5 per cent under this model. However, because the city is proposing a 4 per cent overall increase, the net effect under this model would result in a 0.5 per cent property tax increase in 2019.  The PAYT system is expected to go before city council for a final decision on Sept. 24.

Saskatoon Council also voted in June to develop an organics program that will operate year-round using a single green cart for food and yard waste.  The current cart size and frequency of curbside recycling will remain the same, but councillors deferred a decision on how much to spend buying green carts.

Brenda Wallace, the City of Saskatoon’s director of environmental and corporate initiatives, stands next to three different garbage cart sizes at city hall (Phot Credit: Phil Tank/The StarPhoenix)

An Administration Report released in early September estimated that the new waste and organics program in Saskatoon could cost residents an additional $20 to $30 per month.  City administration recommended $13.6-million in capital funding be approved to implement a year round, bi-weekly organics and waste collection program for curbside residential households.  Administration also recommends that compost depots continue operating with no changes to existing service levels.

The City Administration recommended organics and waste be collected bi-weekly. It estimates the utility cost for residents would be $20 per month based on the use of a medium sized waste cart. Weekly collection of organics and waste would cost around $33 per month.


Recently, the City of Regina introduced a pilot project to roll out an organic waste program over the next four years. Lisa Legault, director for Regina’s Solid Waste, said the city’s goal has been to divert 65 per cent of household waste from the landfill. The city began its blue bin recycling in 2015, but is still stuck at the 20 per cent mark in its diversion goal.

The proposed pilot project, which would take effect in 2020, would see compost picked up weekly with garbage eventually being picked up biweekly. A final implementation plan will be presented to council in spring 2021 with a city-wide implementation starting in 2022.

According to Legault, the annual cost of the organic waste service would be $7.9 million. However, she added, $4.6 million would be saved from garbage collection, cutting the cost to $3.3 million. Homeowners would pay between $36 to $51 extra on their property taxes.  The pilot project would cost the city $3.5 million.

Lisa Legault, the City of Regina’s director of solid waste, (Photo Credit: Jessie Anton/980 CJME)

Coupled with the organics program, the Solid Waste Department is proposing a new funding policy for curbside waste services.  The proposed model would fund curbside recycling and future diversion services, like organics, through property taxes and curbside garbage collection through user fees. Currently, residents pay for curbside recycling services through a monthly fee on utility ‘water’ bills. This fee would be eliminated. It is reasoned that the proposed approach will motivate residents to reduce their waste generation and focus on diversion.

Under the proposed new financial model, curbside garbage collection will be based on the size of garbage cart the resident requires and will be billed through a monthly fee on the City’s utility bills. Residents who reduce waste and continue to take advantage of waste diversion services will have the opportunity to choose the lowest cost service option.

In June, Regina City Councillors delayed plans for a price on garbage bins until Waste Department staff came up with more details on the cost of the plan.  “It’s difficult to make a decision on a fee structure when I don’t know what it is,” said Councillor Andrew Stevens.  “User fees, flat-rate user fees, generally function as a regressive taxation system,” he said. “You’re going to see low-income people paying more.”  Lisa Legault noted that requiring residents to pay for the cheaper program (recycling) through property taxes and the costlier one (garbage pickup) through fees could help lower taxes.

At a Public Works Committee meeting in June, City staff told Councillors they’ll be ready to report back on fees around October of this year.



The Future of On-Site Organic Waste Management

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by John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng



A successful business has management and staff that constantly look for ways to make money and ways to save money.  When it comes to managing organic waste generated by a business, ways of saving money may, in the near future, flip into ways of making money.

In most jurisdictions, organic waste is separated from other wastes for further treatment.  To date, there are some organizations that have opted to treat their organic waste on-site.  There are pros and cons to this option.  The pros include the ability to control costs through the management of one’s own waste, the potential benefit of energy generation, and the utilization of the compost or anaerobic digestate. The cons include dealing with odour issues, space restrictions, and the need for specialized staff to operate the treatment system.

Many organizations that opt to manage organic waste on-site choose aerobic composting due to its low maintenance and capital costs.  However, these organization may be losing out on a possible revenue stream if they do not consider anaerobic digestion.

Algoma Orchards

Located near the Town of Newcastle, Ontario Algoma Orchards is a family-run company that specializes in growing apples and producing apple cider and other juices.  They have been in business since 1964.

Kirk Kemp is the president of Algoma Orchards in Clarington, (Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland)

Algoma Orchards has a fully integrated production facility that packages annually over 36 million kilograms of apples for wholesale, presses nearly 9 million litres of juice, and produces a variety of prepared products such as baked goods and gourmet foods.  The facility has 125 full-time employees and up to 180 seasonal workers.

Algoma generates several thousand tonnes of organic waste per year.  Today the company has a cost associated with the disposal of the organic waste (pomace, unsuitable for use) generated at their facility.  Consistent with the operating vision and sustainable thinking in the business, Algoma partnered with CCI BioEnergy Inc. (CCI) to consider new organics management options with an objective to maximize the value of their wasted organics.

Anaerobic Treatment

Fortunately for Algoma Orchards, a potential solution for converting their organics into higher value uses was just down the road.  CCI, a Canadian-based company specializing in the design, build and operation of anaerobic digestion (AD) systems has its head office a short 5 minute drive down the road.

CCI  is most known in Canada and the USA for designing, building and operating the two AD facilities that have processed more than 650,000 tonnes of the City of Toronto’s residential curbside collected, source separated organics (also known as the Green Bin Program) since the fall of 2002.  The solution needed for Algoma Orchards would be on a much smaller scale.

Algoma Orchards and CCI are currently working together on a trial of a new micro AD system first used in the UK  and brought to North America by CCI.

What attracted Algoma Orchards to the technology was its simplicity of design and ease of operation.  The system was originally architected and built by a UK based company, Qube Renewables,  to meet the waste and sewage treatment needs of British troops at remote sites and forward operating bases.  The design criteria demanded by the British military was that the system needed to be robust, transportable, rugged, and easy to operate.

How the System Works

The system installed at Algoma Orchards has the core features of a typical AD system with unique features that make it robust and easy to operate. Using re=purposed shipping containers, the system has a flexible architecture to integrate the needed systems to build a client solution, including biogas utilization systems. Small-scale combined heat & power (CHP) is available beginning in the 3.5kW capacity and upgrading systems for renewable natural gas that convert as little as 10 cubic metres of biogas per hour.

CCI Biogas Installation of BioCube System at Algoma Orchards

Algoma is already seeing the benefits of the on-site AD approach, as have the other generators of the different feedstock types being tested at the Algoma site. For Algoma, and any user, the business case includes the current management practice savings, the internal energy use off-sets, saleable carbon footprint reduction credits, the digestate value as a soil amendment/fertilizer, satisfying their customer expectations to reduce their carbon footprint, the accelerated depreciation available for renewable energy projects, and the value accrued against their corporate sustainability objectives.

The AD system is also a logical extension of their unique, on-site aerobic waste water treatment system supplied by the Altech Group based in Toronto.  The wastewater system consists of a membrane bioreactor that captures and reclaims all the water used in the facility – a key given the rural located plant has no access to municipal water or sewage services.   Although the trial is yet to be completed, the payback on the system is estimated to be less than five years.

As for the traditional drawbacks to implementing an AD system, Algoma has yet to experience major process upsets or odour issues, which also are likely not an issue due to the consistency and mix of the feedstock supply.

The Future

For Algoma Orchards the future has arrived.  The company has on-site treatment solutions for its organic waste and wastewater that together deliver significant cost benefits and environmental attributes that are critical to their operating vision and success. To many, organic waste and wastewater is seen as an environmental problem.  At Algoma, it looks like the company has turned these liabilities into opportunities.

BioQube System in Operation in the UK

Learning Lessons from Past Fires at Waste Management Facilities

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The latest waste management facility fire in Canada occurred on September 12th in Langely, British Columbia.  When emergency vehicles arrived on scene, they found the fire making its way through a pile of wood waste 60 metres high and 240 metres long. The wood waste consisted of lumber, logs, roots, stumps and pallets intended to be turned into hog fuel and bark mulch. It took over 36 hours for the fire department to put out the fire at the wood waste recycling facility.  The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Fire burns through a large pile of wood waste at a recycling facility in Langley, B.C. (Cory Correia/CBC)

At about the same time as the fire crews were battling the blaze at the Langley, B.C. waste management facility, an emergency response team of about 70 firefighters were fighting a massive fire at an Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia construction & demolition landfill.  It took over 12 hours to put out the fire at the Annapolis Valley facility.  A reward of $10,000 is being offered to any person who can provide information on how the fire started.

Earlier this summer, there was a fire at a GFL solid waste transfer station in Edmonton, Alberta.  The Edmonton Fire department arrived on scene at 3 am on July 29th and managed to get the fire under control by 6:30 am.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.  One hindrance to putting out the fire was the lack of fire hydrants in the vicinity of the facility.

Six-alarm fire at the GFL Recycling Facility in the Toronto Portlands, east of the downtown core (Photo Credit: PASCAL MARCHAND)

GFL also had a fire at one of its Toronto facilities in May 2017.  The massive fire required required a six-alarm response (17 pumpers, 6 aerials, 2 squads, 6 district chiefs, 1 platoon, 1 division commander, 1 command vehicle, 2 air supply trucks, 1 hazardous materials truck). The GFL recycling facility located on Cherry Street in the Port lands burned for days and resulted in $20 million in damage.   Originally, it was speculated that embers from fire works being set off in the area were the cause of the fire but it was subsequently ruled out.


According to research performed by Ryan Fogelman of Michigan-based Fire Rover there were 268 fires reported in the news about recycling facilities in North America from July 2016 to July 2017.  Mr. Fogelman estimates this as a minimum during the reporting investigated period as it does not take into account any fires at facilities that were not reported in the news.  His latest research , dated April 2018, revealed a 48% Increase in waste & recycling facility fires in the first eight months of 2018 compared to 2017.

Why are things not getting better?

With each fire at a recycling and/or waste management facility, one would think that useful information would be obtained that could be subsequently applied to other facilities to prevent the same occurrence.  Unfortunately, the statistics appear to be telling a different story.

There could be a multitude of reasons for the increase in fires in 2018 over the previous year and the generally high number of fire at recycling and waste management facilities.  Mr. Fogelman of Fire Rover has speculated that it could a combination of factors including an onslaught of lithium-ion batteries found in waste streams, the increased material stock at facilities due to China’s recycling restrictions, and warmer/drier than usual weather from previous years.

A report prepared by the French Ministry of the Environment, Energy, and the Sea in 2016 concluded that fires at waste management facilities predominately fit into one of the following categories:

  • Fire caused by self combustion;
  • Fire caused by the presence of ignitable waste;
  • An accident subsequent to an unexpected chemical reaction during hazardous waste storage or handling;
  • Ignition subsequently to poor supervision of hot spot work locations;
  • Arson and/or vandalism;
  • Machinery fire caused by an electrical or mechanical problem;
  • A leak or overflow of a liquid storage tank containing ignitable and/or flammable material; and
  • Other causes (i.e., fire from neighbouring site).

The French report acknowledges that it is impossibe to describe all the accident configurations potentially
encountered within the various types of waste management facilities, it concludes that the several recurrent patterns stated above are worth mentioning.


There is no one magic panacea for solving the riddle of fires at recycling and waste management facilities.  If there was, one would hope that it was being implemented.  What various codes, reports, and guidelines inevidently recommend are a serious of actions and equipment.

In some cases, fires may not be prevented (i.e., the presence of ignitable waste), but there are actions that can take place at a transfer/processing facility that can increase the risk of a fire.  Such actions (or inaction) can include poor storage practices, poor management systems, along with inadequate fire prevention and emergency response measures.

In the case of the 2016 French report on fires at waste management facilities are as follows:

  • Training of the various responders (technicians, watchmen, etc.) in chemical risks, wearing
    individual protective gear;
  • Improvement of the acceptance procedure (e.g. comparison drawn between the product
    safety sheet and the waste acceptance certificate);
  • Optimal supervision by means of waste handling (transfer/dispensation) procedures;
  • Enhanced controls of container cleanliness (absence of residue) / efficiency of cleaning
    operations prior to material transfer;
  • Physical isolation of incompatible products (use of separate premises, with cabinets as
  • Improvement of monitoring / sorting upon acceptance in order to route the waste to the
    appropriate warehouse cells;
  • Modification of operating procedures: no warehousing of products that exhibit higher risk
    during periods of closure (weekends), complete ban on the warehousing of certain high-risk
    waste (e.g. batteries still fitted with their cables);
  • Expanded verifications before periods of closure and enhanced surveillance during such
  • Depending on the typology of the waste involved, modification of the transfer technique in
    order to limit risks (e.g. transfer of used acids from bulk containers using stationary pumps
    rather than a transfer process that relies on compressed air);
  • More efficient controls prior to initiating the transfer operation;
  • Coordination pursued with waste producers on identifying substances in a way that avoids
    confusion: labelling, differentiation between types of containers / couplings with respect to
    the products;
  • Communication addressed to the supplier and shipper, training in the risks of incompatibilities
    both between products and between products and materials at the various stages throughout
    the supply chain; and
  • Revision of the risk analysis (safety report) to incorporate accident patterns (inclusion of the
    risk of placing incompatible products in contact with one another).

In some cases, the the environmental regulator can play a role in preventing fires at recycling/waste management sites through increased inspection and increased regulatory fees required of operators with poorly performing sites.  In some cases, a repeat offender may be denied the ability to obtain an operating permit.

For operators of recycling/waste management facilities, the cost of a fire far outweighs the time, effort, and cost to prevent them.  Fires result in a disruption to business, increased insurance premiums, clean-up costs, potential fines, and damage to business reputation.  As an industry, a renewed commitment to fire prevention at recycling/waste management facilities would be a benefit to all.









Saskatchewan Company claims to have found Solution Improving Recycling Rates

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Kwik BagIT Products International Inc., headquartered in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, recently developed a patent pending utility device that it claims will revolutionize the methods currently being practiced for waste diversion by residents of municipalities.

The device itself is essentially a quad-pod with extendable legs that includes poly-cloth bags of different colours.  The company describes the device as a System having telescopic rails and legs, which allows the user to use any size of bag.  The System also includes biodegradable/mono mesh bags that can be washed and reused.  By using the supplied bags, the company states that consumers will no longer need to buy plastic garbage bags.

Kwik Bagit Bio/System

Along with the System, the company also has a Community Awareness Program that it claims will revolutionize the methods currently being practiced for waste diversion across Canada and around the world.

The Kwik BagIt Eco/System, in the view of the company founder Harold Sokyrka, could be the solution to the serious issues plaguing municipalities and recycling depots throughout the world.  In his opinion, the challenge of most municipal waste diversion programs is homeowner confusion on what goes where.  Mr. Sokyrka claims that his System which he claims is straightforward and based on common sense.

More information on the Kwik BagIt Eco/System can be found on the company website.