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Vitacore Industries launching Canada’s first single-use PPE recycling program

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In partnership with McMaster University and the University of British ColumbiaVitacore Industries Inc. has launched Canada’s first single-use mask and respirator end-to-end recycling program aimed at reducing the environmental impact of single-use PPE. The pilot program officially launched across Metro Vancouver in February and provides PPE recycling bins at long term care and urgent care facilities at no cost including City Centre Urgent and Primary Care Centre in downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver Urgent and Primary Care Centre. This program provides front-line workers with the opportunity to recycle their single-use face masks and CAN95 respirators and will be expanded nationally to include bins across the country.

Once collected, the single-use masks and respirators are sterilized by Vitacore before being sent to McMaster University to be broken down and repelletized. Polypropylene, the plastic used in single-use masks and respirators, will be given a second life as construction materials to reinforce concrete or siding for buildings and reduce the amount of waste heading to landfills. Furthermore, to expand the possible uses for the repelletized materials, ongoing research is still being conducted by McMaster University.

According to Vitacore president Mikhail Moore, “Over 63,000 tons of Covid-19 related single-use masks and respirators will be used over the next year in Canada, significantly contributing to the pollution in our landfills and oceans. Vitacore is committed not only to providing the highest quality PPE to Canadians, but also to a sustainable future”.

“From product conception to point-of-use and disposal, we are developing a blueprint for maximizing sustainability in the life cycle of polyolefin-based PPE products.” Says Yang Fei, director, Research and Development at Vitacore.

“Environmental sustainability is one of the thematic pillars for research at McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM). This project illustrates the innovative approaches the centre is taking, along with partners such as Vitacore, to advance long-term sustainable use of PPE by the public and healthcare workers,” says Ravi Selvaganapathy, CEPEM’s director and Canada Research Chair in Biomicrofluidics. This month, CEPEM received $1.2M in funding from the Government of Ontario to expand its testing infrastructure and partnerships with Canadian companies, such as Vitacore.

 

Canada and FCM invest in expanded residual materials recycling at eco centres in Quebec Municipality

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The Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) recently announced the investment of $9.1 million for a project the will reuse residual materials in the eco centres of the Regional Municipal County (RMC) of La Rivière-du-Nord.  The funding is through the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) which supports more sustainable communities. The GMF is funded by the Government of Canada and delivered to municipalities by FCM.

Thanks to this funding, the RMC de La Rivière-du-Nord will be able to develop better management of residual materials, mainly by significantly reducing landfill sites and recycling residual materials on its territory. Currently, the RMC manages four eco centres that recover 900 tons of residual materials per year, and only materials that are in a condition to be resold are accepted. The funding will enable the RMC to build new infrastructure, including a reuse shop and a new energy-efficient eco centre in Saint-Jérôme, to optimize the Saint-Hippolyte and Prévost eco centres, and to treat construction, renovation and demolition residues as well as non-reusable materials.

“In collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Government of Canada is helping communities reduce their carbon footprints and operate more efficiently”, said Stéphane Lauzon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Seniors and Member of Parliament for Argenteuil-La Petite-Nation. “These pilot projects will help municipalities become more eco-efficient, improve the quality of the environment, and offer citizens access to greener services, equipment and tools.”

The expected environmental benefits of the project include the diversion of 900 tonnes per year of waste from landfill, increased recovery rates for the RMC from 60 to 66%, the retention of rainwater to suspended materials in stormwater runoff by 43%, and energy savings in the operation of 25%.

The project is expected to result in an operating cost savings from $991/tonne in 2019 to $226/tonne in 2021.  It will also provide a diversification of revenue sources with the contribution of the IC&I, contractor, and retail sectors.

Depending on the success of the project, there is potential for it to be replicated by municipalities in Quebec and across Canada.

“GMF is focused on local sustainable development projects that improve the quality of life of our citizens, and this project directly meets this goal,” stated Scott Pearce, FCM Third Vice-President and Mayor of the Township of Gore. “The new eco centres are an important step in adopting sustainable measures in the region. Reducing the amount of residual material going to landfill is not only good for the environment, but also helps people live healthier and build more sustainable communities.”

Bruno Laroche, Prefect of the RMC of La Rivière-du-Nord and Mayor of Saint-Hippolyte stated: “The success of reuse in the eco centres managed by the RMC of La Rivière-du-Nord is already known throughout the province. Optimization of the network will not only make it possible to maintain this momentum, but also to recycle construction materials, which account for nearly half of the generation of residual materials on the territory. This funding represents both a recognition of the efforts made and a boost to continue improving performance and achieving the objectives of the RMC’s residual materials management plan.”

The GMF is a $1-billion program funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by FCM.  Since 2000, GMF has helped bring over 1,360 projects to life.  GMF supports local innovation that can be replicated and scaled up across the country to tackle Canada’s climate challenges.

Local resource recovery drives bioplastics standards globally

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Written by Jonathan Cocker, Partner, BLG LLP

The push to overhaul the use of conventional plastics with bio-based and/or biodegradable alternatives is supported by many multi-national companies, particularly in the various consumer goods industries.

Therefore, international standardization of the bioplastic packaging or (single use) product content is seemingly foreseeable, if not inevitable. However, recent legal initiatives looking into this previously unregulated sector suggest bioplastics specifications will be based upon actual recovery in the communities in which they are waste-managed, turning a global development into a very local concern.

European Union (E.U.) mandates performance proof for biodegradable plastics (BDP)

The European Commission (EC) has been actively investigating the value of bioplastics under various end-of-life processes in an effort to capture the actual movement of such materials within Europe. In December 2020, the EC issued Biodegradability of plastics in the open environment, containing recommendations by an independent scientific advisory group looking at the performance of BDPs where no dedicated processing (such as in-vessel composting) has been applied.

The recommendations constrain the promotion of BDP and require performance verification based upon the particular waste management environments in which they are processed. These recommendations include:

  • Supporting the development of testing and certification schemes evaluating actual biodegradation of BDP in the context of their application in a specific receiving open environment;
  • Required assessment of biodegradation and environmental risk of BDP under the conditions of specific open environments; and
  • Supporting the development of a materials catalogue and their relative biodegradation rates in a range of environments.

As the EC is aware from its ongoing assessment of compostable/biodegradable plastic packaging standard CEN 13432, processing of waste, even industrial composting activities, differs among E.U. members, making the “specific open environment” a domestic designation at best.

Japan places biomass at centre of bioplastics strategy

Similarly, Japan recently issued a Bioplastic Introduction Roadmap specifically tied to growth of “sustainable bioplastics” driven by a national plastic resource recycling strategy. The roadmap focuses on switching from fossil fuel to biomass-based polymers, specifically plant-derived inputs, reflecting the availability of local resources.

Manufacturers of products using plastics, such as containers and packaging, plastic shopping bags, electrical and electronic equipment, clothing, footwear, furniture and toys, are to introduce biomass content into their products, with the coincident growth of recycling infrastructure to match this material profile. Concerns over international compostability standards and certifications are secondary to Japanese resources and their recovery.

Canada looks at aerobic/anaerobic bioplastic performance

The country’s Zero Waste Plastic Initiative is funding an assessment of the performance of certain “compostable” bioplastics in both aerobic and anaerobic organic waste facilities, recognizing that plastic waste frequently contaminates organic waste streams, particularly residential source-separated “green bin” organics. In doing so, locally-demonstrated resource recovery is prioritized over international bioplastics standards:

While national and international certification standards exist, meeting those standards does not necessarily ensure that Compostables can be properly managed after reception of the source separated organics, including Compostables, at Ontario’s aerobic composting or anaerobic digestion facilities.

A similar study was funded last year by the EC and found the demonstrated value of compostable plastics in these processes to be “sparse and inconclusive”.

Bottom-up waste management over top-down product standards

While there are significant growth projections for bioplastics and plans for further standards developments, such as under the EU Circular Economy Action Plan 2020, obtaining product certification under an international regime will not necessarily mean acceptance in any domestic market. Instead, demonstrable performance of the bioplastic within existing local waste management infrastructure will ultimately be needed.

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About the Author

Jonathan Cocker, a Partner at BLG LLP, 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.

Can more recycling be a bad thing? Why including more materials in the recycling bin will do more harm economically, environmentally and socially

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Written by Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D., Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University

In a recent review of New York State’s proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, I was taken aback by the sheer number of materials that were included (more than 30 individual materials in all) – it included everything from the conventional (newsprint, magazines, corrugated cardboard, aluminum cans) to the obscure (Multi-layered and flexible packaging made out multi resin products like LLDPE, PCV and PS), and even things we know not to be recyclable (BPA, Compostable Plastics, Polycarbonate and Lexan).

While surprising, I can’t say that it was entirely unexpected. New York State is merely following the lead of jurisdictions such as Ontario, which have decided to adopt the “Kitchen Sink” model towards printed paper and packaging recycling, and attempt to recycle everything, everywhere, in order to make recycling simpler for households.

It’s an extremely easy story to sell to the public, more recycling is obviously good, and the companies who produce the packaging will need to figure out a way to recycle it effectively. While the latter comment touches on the topic of extended producer responsibility, which is not what this article is about. Rather, I want to remind readers that not all recycling is created equal, and the “Kitchen Sink” approach being proposed by New York State (and other jurisdictions), is not sustainable, and unequivocally does more harm than good – economically, environmentally and even socially.

The endogeneity hypothesis  

Whenever I refer to the “endogeneity hypothesis”, I am often met with blank stares. In its simplest terms, endogeneity (in this specific context) refers to when variables within a system are interrelated – the existence of variable A, impacts variable B, which in turn, affects variable C. This is a gross oversimplification of a rather complex issue, but I do so to illustrate a broader point: What we decide to accept in our recycling bin will not only influence our ability to recovery these materials economically, but also affect the recycling performance of individual materials that make up the recycling program.

What policy makers and advocates of the “Kitchen Sink” approach fail to recognize is that waste management infrastructure (including the development of downstream processing and end use applications) was largely designed around “core materials” – These materials, which are characterized by high levels of recyclability, stable revenue, strong end market demand and are accepted in most municipal recycling programs: Newsprint, Other Paper (Magazines, Office Paper etc.), Corrugated Cardboard, Boxboard, Gable Top Cartons, PET bottles, HDPE bottles, Aluminum Cans, Steel Cans, and Glass* (glass cullet is generally not considered a core material due to poor end market demand). While the proliferation of light weight and composite packaging has spurred innovation in the waste management sector, it would be a gross overstatement to say that these materials are readily recyclable. Recycling of flexible plastic and composite plastic packaging in particular are still in its most nascent form – research for this article could only find a handful of pilot projects (across North America) where recyclers are accepting composite and flexible packaging to be tested for chemical recycling and waste to fuel.

But what does any of that have to do with the “endogeneity hypothesis”? For every additional “non-core” material added to the recycling program, not only do the costs of the entire program go up, the costs of managing individual materials within the program go up. Materials that are difficult to sort and/or recycle have an adverse impact on all other materials being managed within the same system – this is particularly true of single stream recycling systems. The more materials accepted by a program, the greater the number of types of materials inbound into a material recycling facility. If a MRF is not configured or cannot be readily retrofitted to efficiently sort materials that fall outside of the “core material” categories, it increases both the sort time and cost of managing *all* materials, irrespective of whether it is newsprint or a multi-laminate plastic.

In essence, the decision to attempt to recycle everything not only radically increases the costs of a recycling system that was never intended to capture these materials, but it poses an externality on the materials that were already being recycled. It makes the cost for all participants within the system more expensive, a somewhat perverse outcome given that we are trying to encourage producers who use readily recyclable packaging.

What are we trying to achieve again?

When writing these articles, this is a question that I often return to – largely because I don’t think a clear answer has emerged. Based on what I am seeing in the latest legislative developments in both Canada and the United States, it appears as though increasing recycling rates may be the end goal. It’s a “Do good, feel good” activity that people can readily get behind – I agree with half of that statement.

It certainly is a feel good activity, but whether it “does good” is highly questionable. I have repeated time and time again that not all recycling is created equal – decision makers are not oblivious to this, as there was a time when certain municipalities were considering *contracting*the list of accepted materials due to the issues that it posed within the recycling system.

So why the sudden 180 degree turn – in fairness, one part of that is consumer driven. Telling households not to recycle is walking back on years of environmental messaging, and can serve as a significant source of confusion/contradiction. The second part has to do with “who pays for the system”. Municipalities were very interested in booting materials out of the Blue Box when they paid for half of the cost. However, under a 100% EPR system, the same people who wanted me to find out how to get LDPE film and Polystyrene out of the program, are now calling for producers to pay their fair share for keeping materials out of landfill.

Not all recycling is created equal

While I obviously have very strong feelings about the appropriateness of EPR for PP&P, and the efficacy of recycling in general, I want to leave you with the following. One is a tool that I had developed several years ago that allowed users to enter in either a goal recycling rate, or a goal carbon abatement target, and the model would automatically find the lowest cost way to achieve it by prioritizing the recovery of specific materials. The data is a bit outdated (2018), but the overall finding remains unchanged – it isn’t how much we recycle that matters, it’s what we recycle. The “optimized” scenario actually found that maximum carbon abatement was achieved by recycling *less* (in absolute tonnes) than what we do today, and at a lower cost. There is a decoupling of recycling rate performance and environmental impacts – no longer is recycling directly correlated with carbon abatement.

Beyond this tool, I also want to provide a material evaluation matrix that looks at the characteristics of each material being considered in the New York State EPR program. Please note that I have grouped all the sub-categories (i.e. flexible PET, flexible PP, Flexible PS) into one container category (flexible packaging). As best I could, I tried to mirror the proposed list to the ones we use in Ontario – the reason for that is that I wanted to give actual data for what the quantities and costs of recycling are in a program that has already implemented EPR.

The criteria I used to evaluate materials are based on:

·        recovery rate,

·        revenue received (using Ontario price sheet)

·        cost of recycling, (using the SO Pay in Model)

·        Is the material accepted in most programs?

·        Is there available recycling infrastructure?

·        Is there end market demand?

·        Carbon abated per tonne recycled (by material) (EcoInvent)

·        Carbon impacts per tonne landfilled (by material) and  (EcoInvent)

·        Money spent on recycling to abate one tonne of carbon (by material).

I have always felt that the last metric is the most important – how much would you have to spend recycling something in order to abate one tonne of carbon? If you refer to the second worksheet (“Cost of Carbon”) it quickly becomes apparent that some materials make virtually no sense to recover given how much you have to spend to achieve a given environmental goal, i.e. $1856.14/TCO2e for plastic laminates.

It is critical that decision makers use data and evidence to guide their decisions, and not rely on emotionally or politically driven narratives. Jurisdictions are tripping over each other trying to push forward with EPR legislation for packaging waste, but it is of paramount importance that we proceed with caution and question the approach we are taking and explore potential alternatives. Producers also need to understand that EPR systems prioritizing recycling based outcomes is likely to have many adverse impacts that need to be better understood. Now more than ever, producers cannot resign themselves to playing a passive role in legislative discussions.

Recycling is a wonderful thing, but it is not the only tool in our tool box. In fact, it should be one of our last resorts when we cannot find ways to achieve waste reduction (i.e. package light weighting) or adopting systems that make reuse easier.

There will be many people that disagree, but I encourage you all to look at the data, and see what conclusions you reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Recycling Company CEOs make the Canadian Tech Entrepreneurs Watch List for 2021

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MaRS, a organization that help Canadian start-up companies frown into successful companies, recently released its list of the top 21 Canadian tech entrepreneurs to watch in 2021.  Included in the list are the CEO’s from two recycling companies – GreenMantra and Li-Cycle Corp.

Jodie Morgan, CEO, GreenMantra

Markets have been plagued by uncertainty this year, but cleantech investors can nevertheless rely on the proven practice of recycling materials into sustainable products, so says GreenMantra CEO Jodie Morgan. How fortunate, then, that Morgan and her Brantford company are one of Canada’s top post-consumer, post-industrial plastics recycling firms — morphing one of the most problematic innovations in history into things like asphalt shingles, wax and ink. As a member of MaRS Momentum, GreenMantra is also one of the country’s fastest-growing firms, with sales increasing so rapidly in 2020 that the startup expanded its manufacturing facility and doubled capacity.

What’s next: If “plastic is the new crude oil,” then Morgan and her employees are going to be busy well past next year. GreenMantra is working with petrochemical companies NOVA Chemicals and Inter Pipeline to develop new ways of enhancing asphalt. The positive environmental impact could be huge, particularly when you consider that 1,000 kilometres of paved road, for example, represents up to 2.7 billion plastic bags removed from a landfill.

Ajay Kochhar, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle

As climate-focused initiatives become a bigger priority, homegrown companies are looking to contribute in their own unique way. “Canada aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and clean technology will play a massive role in this transition away from emissions,” says Ajay Kochhar, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle. Based in Mississauga, Li-Cycle recovers more than 80 percent of all materials found in lithium-ion batteries through their environmentally sound recycling plants.

What’s next: Having recently announced a Series C equity funding round, the company is looking to expand their services into the U.S. and open a commercial hub in New York.

Doing less, with more – Why the environmental performance of the Blue Box is decreasing over time

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Written by Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D, Co-Investigator: “The Waste Wiki” – Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University

Can recycling be bad for the environment? This is a question that I have posed to students in the past – almost universally, the answer has been a resounding no. For decades, Ontarians have been inundated with the message that “recycling is good” and that it is our collective responsibility to recycle in order to preserve resources for future generation. In fact, Ontario’s Blue Box program is expected to play a critical role in helping the province achieve its carbon reduction and zero waste goals, and remains as the centerpiece of the Waste Free Ontario Act. With all of this in mind, recycling must surely be a good idea, right?

I would be disingenuous if I told that recycling was bad for the environment. However, I do feel that not all recycling is created equal. What we recycle, when we recycle and why we should recycle is very much contingent on a number of site and situation specific circumstances. When evaluated in isolation and all things being equal (cetterus paribus), recycling will yield a positive environmental outcome. However, the situation becomes much less clear once we begin to include other factors (economics, social equity etc,) and the “opportunity cost” of recycling activity (where opportunity cost is the forgone benefit that would have been derived by an option not chosen.).

Looking at the performance of Ontario’s Blue Box program, we observe a troubling trend – the environmental performance of the Blue Box (measured in terms of GHGs abated) has decreased every year since 2015. In that same period, the net cost per tonne to recycle all Blue Box materials has increased by 21%, while overall tonnes diverted has fallen by more than 80,000 tonnes. In short, the province is doing “less with more”, as the cost of the Blue Box program continues to increase by double digits year over year, while recycling less material and abating fewer tonnes of carbon.

It is important to note that this “decrease” in performance cannot be attributed to any particular cause – the rapidly changing nature of what packaging is made up of, uncertainty regarding the scope and timeframe of proposed legislation, volatility in end markets and realized revenues etc. are all exogenous factors that affect what is being recycled and the costs of doing so. The Blue Box of today is fundamentally different than it was even as little as a decade ago. Over the past 5 years, the program has seen overall paper recycling drop by more than 159,000 tonnes annually (an approximately 38% reduction). Steel packaging and glass cullet have also seen their overall recovered tonnages decrease, while aluminum, PET and HDPE have remained flat. Of particular interest, is that the share of plastics #3-7 (LDPE Film, Polystyrene, Plastic Laminates and Other Plastics) of all tonnes generated and recycled has increased significantly during this same period. This change in the mix of materials generated into the market and recovered tells a story of a system that is increasingly being made up of expensive, difficult to recycle materials.

In light of these challenges, the province now finds itself at a crossroads of sorts, and faces questions that are fundamental to the very nature of the program.  1) Does Ontario continue to promote recycling policy in the hope that a producer operated system will realize operational and economic efficiencies that overcome these problems? 2) Does the province explore  alternative modes and methods of waste diversion that are no longer rooted in recycling, and 3) What is the goal of the program, and what are we willing to spend to achieve it?

For me, this last question is probably the most important one. In many ways, we have a decoupling of environmental and diversion goals. For decades, we have been taught that ‘more’ recycling is better for the environment – but conspicuously absent from this feel good message is what should be recycled. Is the decision to recycling everything (everywhere), economically feasible or environmentally desirable?

As noted earlier, a message that cannot be stressed enough is that not all recycling is made equal – while counterintuitive, a higher recycling rate does not necessarily result in a superior environmental outcome – a system which prioritizes recovery of materials such as aluminum, newsprint etc. (low cost, high impact) can achieve greater carbon reduction, even in a scenario where overall recycled tonnes decreases. In 2016, the university published a study titled “Optimizing emissions targets for residential recycling programs: Why more is not necessarily better with respect to diversion” (Lakhan, 2016 doi: 10.1177/0734242X16659923). The following is an excerpt taken from the paper abstract:

This study demonstrated targeting specific materials for recovery could result in a scenario where the province could improve both overall diversion and emissions offsets while reducing material management costs. Under the modelled scenario, as the tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) avoided increases, the system cost per tonne of GHG avoided initially declines. However, after avoiding 2.05 million tonnes of GHGs, the system cost/tonne GHG avoided increases. To achieve an emissions target in excess of 2.05 million tonnes, the province will have to start recycling higher cost non-core materials (composite materials, other plastics, etc.).

While the paper itself goes into much greater detail surrounding the methodology and findings, the key take away was that what is being recycled, is often more important than how much is being recycled. Much of the current dialogue surrounding waste management revolves around increasing recycling rates and waste minimization, but we must take a step back and ask whether a higher recycling rate should be the focal point of policy objectives. Are there metrics beyond recycling rates and emission impacts that need to be considered when evaluating the long-term sustainability of waste management systems?

While movements towards more sustainable waste management options should certainly be promoted, we must recognize that the most sustainable system is not necessarily the one that recycles the most material. Although recycling is a central component of developing sustainable waste management systems, its adoption must be weighed against budgetary, social and environmental considerations. For every one dollar we spend on one activity, is one dollar less to spend on another – in a resource constrained world, how we chose to prioritize our goals and allocate these resources is of paramount importance. The careful balancing act between continuous improvement in diversion, GHG abatement and cost containment is a topic that requires more attention now more than ever.

Note: For the purposes of this editorial, I have defined carbon abatement/reduction as being a barometer for environmental performance. I recognize that carbon/GHG reduction is only one component of a much larger environmental footprint, and a true life cycle analysis should consider things like water consumption/acidification/eutrophication/toxicity etc.

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About the Author

Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D, is currently co-investigator of the “Waste Wiki” project at York University (with Dr. Mark Winfield), a research project devoted to advancing understanding of waste management research and policy in Canada. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Waterloo/Wilfrid Laurier University joint Geography program, and degrees in economics (BA) and environmental economics (MEs) from York University. His research interests and expertise center around evaluating the efficacy of municipal recycling initiatives and identifying determinants of consumer recycling behavior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Sanexen Receives funding for pilot project to recycle C&D waste

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RECYC-QUÉBEC recently awarded funding to SANEXEN Environmental Services Inc., for Phase 1 of a project to recycle and reclaim gypsum residues and fine residues from the construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) sector.

As the Quebec Residual Materials Management Policy calls for fine residues to no longer be buried in landfills, CRD debris sorting centres are facing sizeable challenges. SANEXEN therefore proposes a solution to recycle and reclaim the fine materials, which would then avoid having to bury over 90% of fine residues from CRD debris sorting centres.

Phase 1 of the project, backed by RECYC-QUÉBEC, would transform fine residues into materials that could be reclaimed using SANEXEN’s own physicochemical treatment process. Moreover, this is the first traceability project in Quebec for residual materials coming directly from the source of production (CRD debris sorting centres) to a reclamation centre dedicated to processing this material. This traceability project is part of SANEXEN’s commitment to transparent and environmentally responsible management of these residual materials. Moreover, a project with the private sector had been carried out in 2019, in collaboration with Avatek Immobilier and Traces Québec.

“This is the first technologically and economically viable solution that will result in less than 10% of CRD fine residues ending up in the landfill at the end of this large-scale, one-year project,” said Martin Bureau, Vice-President, Innovation, SANEXEN.

This initiative will also help define the following aspects: what can actually be considered fine residue as opposed to waste and the type of fine residues that may be reclaimed. A more thorough definition of fine residue that can be reclaimed will also help refine possible markets for this material.

North Bay Banning Textiles from Landfill

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

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

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

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

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

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