On September 8, 2014, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) launched a 45-day public consultation period for the TECHNICAL GUIDE: Recycling process, audit and verification Guideline for Ontario. The guideline was initiated by the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) last year as a result of growing concerns from those within the waste management sector and from purchasers of waste management services.
For the waste management sector, without a common set of environmental standards for processors, those who have invested in operating to high environmental standards – whether operating as service providers to EPR programs or generally operating in the waste diversion service market – are currently put at a competitive disadvantage to those that have not made such investments but are still allowed to receive waste (and in some cases simply dispose of that waste while claiming it diverted).
Purchasers of waste management services simply want:
A common language to quantify outcomes whether it be for Corporate Social Responsibility reports or other objectives such as LEED; and
To ensure they are getting the servicing they paid for.
A number of standards have been developed as a result of EPR programs but they have generally been developed in isolation and are applicable to only some processors of certain materials. As a result, no consistent and comparable framework exists. Rather then taking a single material approach, we determined there was a significant need for a framework for all materials.
A consistent framework is needed to ensure accountability, transparency, accuracy as well as a level playing field in competitive markets.
In order to achieve this, a working group was established through CSA representing a balanced matrix of stakeholders and subject matter experts. There are 30 members in total, which include processors of various materials, end market users, municipal, provincial and federal government representatives, Industry Funded Organizations (IFOs), private sector generators and academics.
The purpose was quite simple:
Establish a common reporting criteria that could be used for any primary and/or secondary processor which would include audit and verification protocols. This common reporting framework should be applicable to any type of recycling facility whether it be a compost facility, a MRF, C&D or any other processor of waste materials.
Set a broad sector benchmark. The goal is not to account for nuances in the management of every type of waste material. There needs to be an understanding that additional requirements for materials that could be more problematic like hazardous waste could be applied additionally.
Focus on Ontario as this is where our members operate but it could be applicable elsewhere. There was some concern if we did this more broadly the process would be more timely and it could also end up with a more watered-down product.
Should not be about choosing one technology over another or about making business decisions. It would simply provide purchasers with better information to make more informed decisions.
Applicable to anyone purchasing or overseeing services – whether private or public.
Finally it’s important to underline this is a guideline. It is not meant to set regulation nor force companies to make certain decisions. This is all about providing information that allows all parties to make decision based on their needs and specific circumstances.