Best practices workshop
The meeting of municipal officials convened by the Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators (AMRC) in London, Ontario on September 28 was the last in a workshop series also held in Ottawa, Sudbury and Toronto. The workshop was presided over by professional facilitator Betty Muse, and the purpose was to formulate a municipal position with respect to blue box program efficiency, and the development of “best practices” — a condition from the industry stewards funding 50 per cent of the net cost of the program across Ontario. The team is led by consultants from KPMG and R.W. Beck, with some seconded municipal staff. The team will visit dozens of recycling plants and other facilities in the year ahead and report on what works best to Stewardship Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Results will be reported in this magazine for the benefit of recycling program managers across Canada.
To view notes from the workshop series, visit www.amrc.ca
Ontario puts alcohol containers on deposit
The Ontario government has announced that wine and liquor bottles will be placed on deposit. Consumers will soon be able to return wine and spirit containers to The Beer Store for a full refund. The Beer Store already operates one of the most successful container return programs in the world. The new program will help divert about 25,000 to 30,000 additional tonnes of glass from landfill (equivalent to about 80 million bottles). Municipal operators say the province’s blue box program will be better without LCBO containers. (See cover story.)
“Broken glass has always been a major problem in the blue box program, damaging equipment and contaminating other streams,” says Mike Birett, Chair of the Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators (AMRC). “Taking out the wine and liquor bottles will alleviate a lot of those issues and we are sure people will feel better knowing the bottles will be recycled into new bottles rather than lower value applications, such as road aggregate.”
In addition, the significant increase in anticipated recovery rates will help meet the province’s diversion goal of 60 per cent by 2008. (Current blue box recovery rates for LCBO containers are about 65 per cent. The Beer Store sees return rates on empty beer bottles in the high 90-per-cent range.) Birett noted a review may be needed in the way collection contracts are designed and in the way industry provides financial support to the program. Both are currently based on per-tonne payments, and the removal of LCBO containers will have a major impact on the make-up of the overall “basket of goods” collected by the blue box program.
Contact Mike Birett, AMRC Chair, at 905-895-1200 ext. 5738.
Coke advocates more recycled content
Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd. (CCE) and two European-based brand-owners are considering boosting the amount of recycled PET in their beverage containers to 25 percent after completing successful trials in England. The landmark trials were among the first organized global efforts to test a higher percentage of PET in packaged goods. The 20-month project was funded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a not-for-profit group involved in sustainable resource development. This would be excellent news for recycling programs. The catch is recovering enough PET to process and support wide-scale use. Serious problems were not encountered in product quality, color, carbonation loss, or shelf-life.
Pelham sludge berm halted
Paper recycler Abitibi Consolidated has reached an agreement with municipal politicians on the future of a controversial berm made from papermill sludge — a byproduct of paper recycling — at 325 Church St. in Pelham, Ontario, which neighbours fear is a health risk. (See Editorial, August/September edition). Abitibi has agreed to implement recommendations made by a provincial expert panel on berm building, says company spokesman Marc MacDonald. The agreement will likely include: ongoing water-quality monitoring at the Pelham berm; hydrogeological assessments conducted beforehand at any future berm sites; and, community consultation before dumping begins at new sites. The berm currently weighs in at 36,000 tonnes and is finished. That leaves the company, which produces 400 tonnes of paper fibre sludge a day, searching for new sites to off-load the waste material. Abitibi hopes to find a new way of dealing with sludge — possibly incineration — within two years.
Year in Review conference
The Year in Review Environment Conference 2006 is just around the corner, November 16, 2006 at the Sutton Place Hotel, 955 Bay Street, Toronto. Participate in presentations, hear case studies and engage in interactive breakout sessions which feature legislation highlights and their impact and implications for your organization.
Toronto purchases Green Lane Landfill
The City Council for Toronto has approved a letter of intent to purchase the Green Lane Landfill in southwestern Ontario for about $250 million. (The exact price will not be known until the end of February after a due diligence period.) The purchase will help the city reduce waste shipments to Michigan and provide a secure disposal site in the event of any sudden border closing. Toronto plans to eliminate waste shipments to the United States by 2010.
The Green Lane landfill was recently granted permission to expand by 10 million tonnes. This offers Toronto 15 years worth of disposal capacity. Currently, roughly 85 truckloads per day (or 750 thousand tonnes per year) is trucked to Republic Waste’s Carleton Farms Landfill in Wayne County, Michigan. Toronto has also committed to reduce waste sent to landfill to as close to 100 per cent by 2012, suggesting the new site could generate tip fees from other jurisdictions sending their garbage there. The deal concerns only Toronto municipal garbage. More than three million tonnes of commercial waste is still shipped from Canada to Michigan every year. The landfill has been operated for many decades by well-known waste industry professional Bob McCaig and his brother and family.
Plasco begins construction of gasifier
Plasco Energy Group Inc. has begun construction on a commercial plasma gasification plant in the City of Ottawa, Ontario. The facility will demonstrate a technology that uses and electric arc to convert some 85 tonnes per day of municipal waste into syn gas. The process occurs in a sealed system that produces no air emissions. The syn gas will power engines to generate four megawatts of electricity (enough to power 4,600 households). The process also produces a solid glass-like material that can be used in aggregate products.
Wal-Mart plans packaging reduction
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has announced plans to measure its 60,000 worldwide suppliers on their ability to develop packaging and conserve natural resources. This initiative, scheduled to begin in 2008, is projected to reduce overall packaging by five percent. The announcement came at the conclusion of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. On November 1, 2006, Wal-Mart will introduce a packaging scorecard to more than 2,000 private label suppliers. This is a tool that will allow Wal-Mart buyers to have all the information about packaging alternatives or more sustainable packaging materials in one place, allowing them to make better purchasing decisions. On February 1, 2007, tools and processes will be made available to all of the company’s global suppliers. For 12 months, these suppliers will learn and share results within this process. And beginning in 2008, Wal-Mart
will measure and recognize the entire worldwide supply base for using less packaging, utilizing more effective materials in packaging, and sourcing these materials more efficiently through a packaging scorecard.
U.S. House passes waste-blocking bill
On September 7 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass Bill HR 2491 that gives individual states the power to prohibit the import of international waste. HR 2491 passed on a voice vote. The Yeas and Nays were not requested. There was little debate on the merits of the legislation itself. There was a partisan split on the recent agreement reached by Michigan Senators Levin and Stabenow with the Province of Ontario. (In that agreement, Ontario agreed to stop shipping municipal waste south of the border by 2010. It was hoped the move would take the wind out of the sails of HR 2491.) Democrats strongly supported the deal and argued that it would stem the flow of garbage arriving from Canada and would forestall possible litigation against the bill, while Republicans noted that the deal had no legal guarantee that its provisions would be met and that legislation was the only way to certify that the problem would be resolved. All speakers called on the Senate to pass their companion legislation; how the Senate may proceed with the Bill is unclear.
The Bill has been the subject of much debate and maneuvering in Michigan, Ottawa and Washington. Michigan has already passed state legislation in anticipation of the approval of HR 2491 — this would effectively prohibit the import of waste from Ontario within 90 days of the federal bill passage. The continuing focus on the waste export issue despite the agreement between Michigan Senators and Ontario reinforces that the issue has become partisan in the U.S. The recent Ontario agreement was not a government-to-government agreement but rather an agreement between Ontario and two U.S. Senators that represent the minority side of government in Washington. This likely reduced the significance of the agreement in the eyes of U.S. Republicans in the HOR and Senate and fueled efforts in the U.S. Congress to pass HR 2491. (Note: The upcoming U.S. elections could alter the eventual outcome of this development, and this magazine will update readers in the future.)
Halton Recycling strives for compliance
On Friday, September 29, Ontario Superior Court Justice Alan Bryant ruled that odorous emissions from a recycling plant in Newmarket, Ontario constitute a public nuisance and ordered the plant to close until June 28, 2007. The plant, operated by Halton Recycling Ltd., has been in the news in the past couple of years because of odor complaints related to its in-vessel waste treatment process. The company handles about a quarter (16,000 tonnes annually) of the recyclable organics of its main client, the City of Toronto.
However, the judge gave the company a 90-day grace period before the closure takes effect in order to come into compliance. The temporary shutdown begins on December 30 unless the company proves during the 90-day grace period that it can meet certain conditions; then it will be allowed to remain open. If the plant managers can bring emissions in line with provincial guidelines by the end of the grace period, they’ll be able to go back to court and ask Justice Bryant to suspend or discharge his closure order.
During the grace period the company will remain open and will continue to work on its odor-control measures, but will have to comply with certain conditions, such as limiting its daily compost intake to 10 truckloads.
For its part, Halton Recycling is confident that it can meet the challenge, having already made an investment of eight million dollars in new equipment and processes. On October 2, Halton Recycling issued its own press release in which it stated that the company is committed to rapidly moving ahead with implementation of its remedial action plan (RAP), as directed by the Ministry of the Environment, and looks forward to working cooperatively with the Town of Newmarket and the Ministry of the Environment over the next 90 days to ensure that the improvements are made promptly and successfully.
Contact General Manager Noel Moya at 905-868-8224 x308. Additional background information, including a copy of the updated Remedial Action Plan (RAP) can be found at the HRL website: www.hrl.ca