Solid Waste & Recycling


News – 01-JUN-07

Stewardship conference in Vancouver

Stewardship conference in Vancouver

Mark your calendars — the Conference on Canadian Stewardship will kick-off with a reception in the evening of Wednesday, September 12, at the beautiful Renaissance Harbourfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver. Premier Gordon Campbell has been invited, and discussions are underway with his staff for the Premier to open the conference. The one-day conference will begin on Thursday, September 13 with a full slate of exciting speakers.

The theme of the event is “Should Governments be in the Boardrooms and the Bank Accounts of Stewardship Programs?” This controversial theme is sure to bring out some hearty discussion by government and industry delegates. Minister of the Environment Barry Penner is the confirmed luncheon speaker.

In 2005 the conference was attended by 185 industry and government leaders, and this year 250 to 300 attendees are expected. A block of rooms has been reserved in the conference name. The Canada Youth Eco Parliament program will be bringing a poster session to the event.

View details and register by visiting

Toronto apartment recycling pilot

A new era in apartment recycling is set to kick off with the launch of a new City of Toronto recycling pilot, one of six projects across Ontario made possible by provincial funding announced in the 2007-2008 Ontario budget. Ontario has provided $305,000 to six municipalities — Toronto, Windsor, Hamilton, Peel Region, London and Quinte — for apartment recycling pilot projects. Ten buildings in Toronto have signed on for the project. The first phase of the pilot will involve assessing the content of multi-unit garbage, while the second phase will help to determine the best methods to increase recycling.

The announcement builds on action the province has already taken to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. These actions include the “bag-it-back” program with the Beer Store, an agreement with industry to reduce by half the number of plastic bags distributed, giving municipalities and the waste industry new tools to manage and divert waste from disposal, and encouraging new waste technologies by exempting pilot or demonstration projects, including energy-from-waste technologies, from the environmental assessment process.

For analysis, see Editorial, page 4. Visit

Ontario to reduce plastic shopping bags

The government of Ontario is announcing a voluntary program to reduce by 50 per cent the number of shopping bags used by consumers. Environment Minister Laurel Broten is announcing a partnership with the Recycling Council of Ontario, plus grocery and retail associations, to devise a system of consumer incentives to meet the target.

Incentives for customers who use cloth or canvas bags could include store “points” redeemable for products, air miles or cash. Other elements of the program will be announced in future months. These may include training for store clerks to double bag less often, put more items in each bag and stop bagging large or single items. The system may include per-bag fees.

Currently, Ontarians use seven million plastic bags each day, or about four bags per person every week. Annual reports will measure success; if the voluntary system doesn’t lead to the desired result, the province can regulate tougher measures such as bag fees or bans. Some grocery stores already offer customers cloth or canvas bags or reusable bins. A&P and Dominion, for example, sell a 99-cent reusable shopping bag that holds the equivalent of about three plastic bags of groceries, and give five air miles to customers with reusable bags.

The incentive program flows from a pilot project in Sault Ste. Marie. In March, San Francisco became the first city in North America to ban plastic bags in grocery stores and large pharmacies. Retailers were given six months to a year to come up with alternatives such as cloth, paper or biodegradable bags. In April, Leaf Rapids, a small town in northern Manitoba, became the first municipality in Canada to ban plastic shopping bags.

New U.S. waste and C&D stats

According to the U.S.-based Waste Business Journal’s recent Waste Market Report, the waste management industry in the US is a $52 billion per year business and is conservatively on track to exceed $60 billion by 2010. More than half of those revenues will be contributed by just the top five companies which are, not surprisingly, publicly traded. Publicly traded companies collectively represent almost 60 per cent of the industry today, up from 47 per cent as recently as 2001.

Comprising the $52 billon industry in 2006, waste collection represents 54 per cent or $28 billion, while disposal in landfills and waste-to-energy plants represents 33 per cent or $18 billion, and processing and materials recovery efforts account for 12 per cent or $6 billion in annual revenues.

In 2006 the US generated about 517 million tons of municipal solid waste including some construction and demolition (C&D) wastes entering municipal waste landfills and waste-to-energy plants (see below). Of the total, 154 million tons or 30 per cent was diverted by way of recycling and composting programs. About 10 million tons of waste was imported from outside the US, primarily Canada. 93 per cent of the waste available for disposal or 348 million tons was buried in landfills while the remaining 32 million tons was burned in waste-to-energy plants.

A continually growing population and economy have contributed to steadily increasing waste generation in this country. The 517 million tons generated last year are up from 458 million generated in 2001. Even per capita discards, now 9.5 lbs per person per day, are still increasing each year and seem to evidence our ever more consumer product-driven, throwaway culture.

The number of landfills however is steadily decreasing. Smaller landfills are closing due to a lack of space and because of cost disadvantages with their larger cousins. That means that the annual volume of waste handled by the average operating landfill is increasing. More so for landfills owned by the private sector; the average private landfill accepts 256,000 tons per year while the average government landfill accepts just 60,000 tons per year. Landfill tip fees have risen nearly 5 per cent since 2005.

Meanwhile, according to U.S. publication Solid Waste Digest, while exact statistics on the size of the construction and demolition (C&D) industry are difficult to come by, a comparison to the size of the municipal waste stream is useful. Municipal waste in the United States runs about 215 to 220 million tons per year, but C&D, including all bridge and roadwork demolition, runs well over 300 million tons, including estimates by the Construction Materials Recycling Association, the National Demolition Association, and the federal EPA.

To order a copy of the Waste Market Report, contact James Thompson at or visit

For more detail on the C&D waste market, consult Solid Waste Digest Report 17.2. and visit

Our Annual Survey Contest iPod Winner!

The staff at Solid Waste & Recycling magazine wish to congratulate reader Tim Leung, Manager, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation, in Edmonton, Alberta for being our contest winner, and the recipient of a lovely iPod prize!

Thanks also to the almost 400 participants who filled in the online survey and helped us share a better understanding
of our industry with readers (and make our magazine better)! Please participate in the survey again next year, and possibly win a prize!

Visit for news and next year’s survey details.

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