Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) is a non-crown corporation created under the province’s Waste Diversion Act (WDA) with the mandate to develop, implement and operate waste diversion programs for a wide range of materials. One of the main waste streams included in WDO’s mandate is the material found in the blue box.
As one of its duties as a provincially mandated stewardship organization, WDO oversees the Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) to fi- nancially assist Ontario-based municipalities that engage in projects that will increase the efficiency of municipal curbside recycling and help boost system effectiveness. Approximately $42 million is available to the WDO over the next three years to invest in stewardship projects.
Since its inception in 2008, $10.5 million has been approved by the CIF to fund 29 projects. Three of the major projects already funded include
ones in the Region of York, the City of London, and the Bluewater Recycling Association. These projects were designed to increase processing capacity for blue box programs by 90,000 tonnes per year. While the regions that are funded will enjoy the increased capacity themselves, the majority of the increased capacity is planned for use by neighbouring municipalities on a shared regional basis.
There is $16.3 million in funds available for 2009 and the CIF is actively looking for projects to fund.
Municipalities are awarded CIF support in two ways. They may be approached by CIF to take on high priority and often higher risk projects that have been identified as being required by CIF staff, recycling industry experts and CIF committees. Municipalities are also encouraged to apply to CIF, identifying community-specific projects.
Plastic recycling a priority
Of particular interest to CIF staff is the additional collection of plastic packaging as part of the blue box program. Presently, some municipalities are collecting a full range of plastic packaging but many still do not.
With respect to one type of plastic — polystyrene — Ontario-based markets are expanding significantly. Grace Canada, based in Ajax, and the Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Alliance, based in Port Hope, recycle polystyrene and are looking to expand. However, more municipalities do not collect polystyrene than do, in part because of costs.
With respect to other types of plastic material, there’s a dearth of processing capacity in Ontario. WDO data shows that in 2007 only 53,000 tonnes of plastic packaging were actually collected in Ontario — less than 25 per cent of the 230,000 tonnes originally generated into the market. Capacity has decreased over the last year due to the loss of Asian markets. More plants are planned in Ontario but there is still a big need for a capacity. Some resin compounder firms do an admirable job of handling the volume of plastic material they currently receive; these companies could increase their capacity or new entrants could make their way into this market.
Material recovery facilities
As the blue box program expands to include more material, material recovery (MRFs) will need to deal with increased loads. One way of handling increased blue box material streams is to increase the size and staff at the facility.
Another means is technological innovation. Ideally, the CIF will fund projects that will allow municipalities to increase their processing capabilities by integration of technology and new state of the art equipment. Essentially, a goal of the fund is to promote “smarter” and more “efficient” ways of stewardship, not just “bigger” plants.
The CIF is looking for projects to fund in the two priority areas. Whether it is a more modern method for recycling plastic materials, a new idea in processing, or a research and development project with an innovative concept, the CIF is interested.
Usually there are projects and a lack of funding. With $16.3 million in funding for the remainder of 2009, the CIF is a fund in need of projects. The CIF is ready to put money on the table and fund projects that make sense. It will be interesting to see how soon new projects will appear now that there’s money available.
John Nicholson, M. Sc., P. Eng., is a consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact John email@example.com
“With Respect To One Type Of Plastic -Polystyrene –Ontario-Based Markets Are Expanding Significantly.”