This year the waste and recycling industry faces both new challenges and new opportunities. The private sector is evolving structurally as a result of industry consolidation. Initiatives to recycle organic waste — in an attempt to meet diversion targets — provides the industry with exciting opportunities.
But the ongoing struggle between the private and public sectors to provide waste and recycling services continues and remains a fundamental issue that will determine the future expansion or contraction of the industry. And regulation at all levels of government continues to impact the viability and sustainability of industry services.
The Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) plays an important role in the industry. The association — through its provincial membership and information exchange — provides industry leadership and proactive input regarding a variety of public policy issues. The development of standards and best management practices conveys to the government and to the public that the industry is responsible and credible.
What does our crystal ball reveal?
Industry consolidation will likely continue but at a slower pace. Recent acquisitions in both Canada and the U.S. (i.e., Waste Management, BFI) have proven to be significant operating challenges. There will likely be a focus on integration prior to any renewed acquisition activity.
The federal government, through Environment Canada, is casting an eye towards the transboundary movement of solid waste between Ontario and the U.S. The possibility of federal regulation has both the private and public sectors concerned. A discussion paper is currently being prepared by SNC Lavalin Consultants on behalf of Environment Canada to consider possible regulation scenarios. These scenarios may be modeled after the current transboundary regulations for hazardous wastes. (See industry news item, page 33.)
Overall, there will be increased transportation of waste (in both volume and distance) as the economy expands. Market forces such as restricted local disposal (i.e., closed landfills such as Keele Valley in Ontario) will contribute to this trend.
With increased transportation, it’s good to see that there will also be substantial improvements to transportation safety. The recently implemented Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) system and Carrier Safety Rating program administered by the Ministry of Transportation will sanction operators with unsatisfactory safety and compliance records.
The CVOR system incorporates a graduated “points” system for truck owners similar to a driver’s license. Safety and Highway Traffic Act violations are assigned points and recorded. At various point thresholds the MTO takes action –from written warnings to the removal of operating authority. The system also informs the public and customers of carrier safety rating.
In Ontario, the Ministry of Labour has renewed a regulatory approach to worker safety relative to waste collection and recycling trucks in an effort to provide regulatory consistency across the province. Regulation 851/90 enforces that workers be protected from pinchpoints. Existing waste and recycling vehicles may require retrofitting and new vehicles must be designed in compliance.
The impending decision by the City of Toronto on options for future waste disposal when the Keele Valley landfill closes will have an impact over a much larger area of Ontario. Several OWMA members — including Green Lane Environmental, Rail Cycle North — are competing for this contract.
Whether it’s Toronto’s long-term disposal management or the many other issues that face the private sector in Ontario and across the nation in 2000, all can be resolved through firm alliances and determination.