Solid Waste & Recycling


News (August 01, 2003)

Quebec gasification pilot resultsA gasification pilot project in Sherbrooke, Quebec to divert municipal solid waste residues from landfill operations was recently completed. The project involved two s...

Quebec gasification pilot results

A gasification pilot project in Sherbrooke, Quebec to divert municipal solid waste residues from landfill operations was recently completed. The project involved two samples of household plastic packaging residues that were gasified: plastic film and a mixed stream of rigid plastic residues. Both samples were subjected to a partial oxidation chemical process able to convert the carbon and hydrogen present into a clean, synthetic gas.

Chemical analysis, conducted by Arthur Gordon Environmental Evaluations Ltd., showed that more than 93 per cent of the carbon in the plastic residues was converted to synthetic gas (syngas) and that 90 to 96 per cent of the inherent energy in the feed material was accounted for, with 75 per cent of the energy in the feed converted to syngas. The levels of lead, mercury and cadmium in the solid residues collected at the cyclones after gasification were all below the level of detection. All emissions to atmosphere after the combustion of the syngas were significantly lower than those prescribed by the Province of Ontario’s A-7 Guidelines, which are among the most stringent in the world.

(See “Sherbrooke Evaluates Gasification” in the August/September 2002 edition.)

EPIC will soon make a more detailed summary of the results available on its web site, linked to

Vancouver waste into power

The Greater Vancouver Regional District unveiled a $36-million power generator that converts into electricity the steam produced by incineration of waste at the Burnaby Waste-to-Energy facility. Operational since July 16, and commercially ready on July 19, the generator produces about 15 megawatts of power (or enough electricity for 15,000 homes) and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the plant by 59,000 tonnes per year. The power will be sold to B.C. Hydro for about $5-million to $6-million annually and the revenue will be used to offset solid-waste management costs for the region.

The Burnaby facility was opened in 1988, and is owned by the GRVD, but operated and maintained by Montenay Inc. The facility burns approximately 20 per cent of the region’s waste annually, producing steam in boilers. In the past, two-thirds of the steam was sold to a nearby paper recycling mill but because of reduced demand the mill used only about one-third of that steam. The mill will now use a reduced supply of steam as the generator works.

Call Ron Richter at 604-521-1025

FCM e-waste report

Proceeds of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) national consultation on the municipal management of discarded electronics are now available. From January to March 2003, the FCM, with the support of Environment Canada, Industry Canada, and Natural Resources Canada, conducted a national consultative process on the management of discarded electronics. In the report, Lura Consulting outlines the FCM’s national municipal position, key collection issues, a national survey on discarded electronics, regional consultation reports, national workshop meeting notes, and a national workshop workbook. The guiding roles and responsibilities of the proposed strategy include: that collection should be a shared responsibility between industry, municipalities, retailers, and consumers; that industry should be primarily responsible for transportation to the processor; that industry should be 100 per cent responsible for processing; and, that communications to consumers can be a shared responsibility between industry, municipalities, and retailers. The report will soon be available at the FCM web site, linked to

Scrap tire stewardship for Yukon

A new program to rid Yukon Territory of abandoned rubber tires started on July 21, 2003. Environment Minister Jim Kenyon says the government is responding to requests from tire retailers, recycling centres, communities and environmental groups. The new program will place a $5 surcharge on all new tires with rim sizes less than 24.5 inches sold in the territory. The surcharge will create a recycling fund to pay for the collection and removal of the tires. Current plans call for the tires to be shipped to Edmonton or disposed to landfill, where they take up valuable space. Abandoned tires are fire hazards and breed mosquito risks. A survey of retailers determined that approximately 35,000 and 20,000 tires are sold in Yukon annually.

Contact Dennis Senger at 867-667-5237 or

Ontario reducing tire stockpiles

On June 3, 2003 the Ontario Ministry of Environment began an inspection blitz of used tire sites in the province, after ordering the owners of nine used tire sites to remove illegally stored tires from their sites. The ministry issued an order against the owners of the Otterwood tire site in Norwich Township — which is estimated to be the largest illegal tire stockpile in the province — with about 350,000 used tires on the site. Local health authorities have stressed the need to cleanup the site because of concerns about the possible spread of West Nile Virus. The ministry also issued a Request for Proposals for the cleanups at these sites (in the event of non-compliance by the owners) and set aside $1-million in cleanup funds.

Contact John Steele at 416-314-6666

Multi-million dollar lawsuit against CVRD

According to an article by Jennifer McLarty in the community newspaper the Cowichan Valley News Leader, a waste management company represented by Claude Boucher is involved in litigation against the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD — on Vancouver Island) and three local politicians. The company, Westcoast Waste Landfill Diversion Corporation, built a composting plant in nearby Cobble Hill that has been the subject of previous controversy and ongoing operational problems. Another company operated by Ms. Boucher, HUWS Corp., built a waste-processing plant in the Town of Caledon in Peel Region, Ontario (on the outskirts of Toronto) using the same patented German Herhoff technology as the Cowichan Valley plant.

Westcoast Waste is suing the CVRD and three local politicians for more than $17-million in damages. The company claims the CVRD, directors John Middleton and Loren Duncan, and former director Richard Hughes have tried to “destroy” its business through media attacks, abuse of public office, and/or the failure to negotiate a waste supply contract.

Westcoast’s statements are simply accusations unless proved in court. According to Westcoast spokesperson Ms. Boucher, the Cobble Hill facility will close if the lawsuit is successful, but otherwise has no immediate plans to shut down. The $17-million in damages would cover the company’s initial $5-million investment, $1.5-million to dismantle the plant, and $10,870,000 for loss of future profit.

NS teachers learn Waste 101

Teachers from across Canada were in Nova Scotia from July 3 to 7 to learn new ideas and techniques to educate their students about the environment and waste management. The Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour worked with the KEY Foundation, a non-profit organization, to bring this year’s “Resourceful Thinking” teachers’ conference to Nova Scotia for the first time. The goal of the conference is to develop teacher training and classroom materials focusing on current topics relating to science, environmental science and social studies. “Nova Scotia has environmental success that has been emulated around the world,” said Barry Friesen, solid waste resource manager for the department. “It’s important to continually educate people about the latest issues and developments in the environment.” Topics at the conference included: composting, a tour of the Halif
ax Recycling Facility
, product stewardship, and sustainability issues.

For a link to more information, visit

U.S. treaty may determine destiny of Toronto waste

The U.S. House of Representatives decided on July 25, 2003 to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to enforce a treaty on waste shipment between Canada and the U.S. As a result, the U.S. EPA may soon have the authority to limit or stop controversial shipments of Canadian waste into the U.S.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow launched a petition last month calling on the EPA to enforce the 1986 treaty, which requires that exporters of waste provide notice of all shipments and that authorities in the importing country have 30 days to either consent to the waste importation or reject it. Currently, almost all of Toronto’s more than one million tonnes of waste per year is disposed in Michigan. Since a contract between the city and state was struck last year, the “Don’t Trash Michigan” campaign has been a very vocal opponent of the shipments.

A representative of the Toronto works committee maintains that NAFTA prevents Michigan from rejecting the waste, but administration of the treaty could lead to administrative challenges.

Meanwhile, Toronto attempts to provide domestic solutions to its waste management challenges. The city recently received 51 responses to its Request for Expressions of Interest for new and emerging technologies, policies and practices to process and divert from landfill the residual solid waste remaining after diversion programs such as the Blue Box, Green Bin organics processing and leaf and yard waste composting. This represents up to 40 per cent of the municipal solid waste stream. The city is seeking technologies that may incorporate physical, biological, chemical and/or advanced thermal processes. (The deadline was July 14, 2003.)

Call Geoff Rathbone at 416-392-4715 or visit “posted documents” section at

Important court decision impacts Ontario EA process

The Ontario Divisional Court recently rendered a decision concerning the approval of the terms of reference for the environmental assessment of the proposed expansion of the Richmond Landfill owned by Canadian Waste Services (CWS). The court quashed the decision of the Minister of Environment’s approval of the terms of reference in a split decision of two judges versus one. Subsequently, the Government of Ontario and CWS filed with the Court of Appeal request leave to appeal the decision. The Court of Appeal is scheduled to decide on whether to grant leave by early August. If granted, the Court of Appeal will hear arguments within about seven months.

The section of the Environmental Assessment Act that is subject to interpretation of the Court was section 6.1(3) which allows proponents to create terms of reference that are tailored for each particular project. The issues that are central to the appeal are: whether the provision requires the EA to contain every single item that has been dealt with in historical environmental assessments and the consideration of the test to be applied to the court when it reviews a Minister’s decision.

This decision will have implications for any organization that is either planning or has already commenced an environmental assessment in Ontario. The Ontario Waste Management Association is consulting with industry about this matter and the implications for the industry.

For further coverage, see the Final Analysis column in the October/November edition.

PSC receives debtor-in-possession loan facility

Philip Services Corporation (PSC), headquartered in Houston, Texas, announced on August 5, 2003 that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas approved a commitment for a US$35-million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan facility from an affiliate of Icahn Associates Corp. The DIP financing availability is effective immediately and will remain in place until a plan of reorganization is confirmed by the court, the company sells its assets under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code, or December 31, 2003, whichever occurs first. On June 2, 2003, the company and 43 of its subsidiaries filed for protection under Chapter 11. The DIP financing along with existing consensual use of cash collateral held by a senior secured lender will enable the company to continue normal operations during the reorganization proceedings.

At the same time, the company agreed to a proposed “stalking horse” plan to reorganize with another affiliate of Icahn Associates Corp. and filed a notice of opportunity for other third parties to submit alternative reorganization plans or purchase assets under Section 363. The company will solicit alternative plan proposals as well as bids for all or defined parts of the company’s assets until August 29, 2003. Thereafter, the company will select, and the Court will hold hearings to confirm, the highest and best proposal. The “stalking horse” proposal also contains certain rights to a break up fee of $5-million and up to $1-million in expense reimbursement if the Icahn Associates affiliate is not the prevailing bidder.

PSC has two operating groups: PSC Industrial Services, which provides industrial cleaning and environmental services, and PSC Metals Services, which provides scrap charge optimization, inventory management, scrap sourcing, and industrial scrap removal.

Contact Michael Ramirez at 713-625-7047

EcoAction funds for innovation

Environment Canada’s EcoAction Community Funding Program released another round of grants to support 96 programs with a total of $2.9-milllion in communities across the country.

Recipients include:

* In Nova Scotia, the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada will carry out an innovative manure management project involving vermiculture and vermicomposting on three farms.

* In New Brunswick, the Falls Brook Centre will establish a demonstration site to promote energy conservation and renewable energy technologies in Carleton County.

* In Manitoba and Nunavut, a pilot scrap metal recycling project will be carried out by the Northern Central Community Futures Development Corp.

Proposal submissions are due by February 1 and October 1.

For a list of recently approved projects and information on the EcoAction program call Ted Jennex 902-426-7696 or visit

Funds for zero-waste in B.C.

The British Columbia Ministry of Waster, Land and Air Protection (WLAP) and the Advance Systems Institute of B.C. (ASI) have jointly launched the ASI Environmental Futures Fund (EEF) to accelerate environmental and waste management research in B.C. The new partnership aims to promote research to find alternatives to landfills with a view to the province’s goal of zero waste, and to improve the sustainability of coastal ecosystems.

ASI will administer the fund, and WLAP will provide financial assistance of $1-million. In addition, ASI will use the government money to leverage further contributions from industry, anticipated at more than $2-million. Qualifying one-year projects will receive up to 50 per cent support from the EEF and a minimum contribution of 50 per cent will be required from industry and/or other contributing sources. Select projects may match funding of up to $50,000.

E-mail Gordon Bird at or view the guidelines at

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