Solid Waste & Recycling

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Our Top Letters (December 01, 2005)

Dear Editor:...


Dear Editor:

RE: “Optical Sorting Equipment” (August/September edition)

Further to the article that appeared in the August/September 2005 issue of Solid Waste & Recycling entitled “Optical Sorting Equipment,” I would like to point out more recent information about one of the suppliers that has become available.

In particular, the article referred to outdated data on TiTech, rather than the company’s more current information. The accurate data concerning TiTech’s plastics optical sorting equipment is as follows:

* Six models for optical sorting are available

* Throughput: 900 to 10,000 kg/hr

* Conveyor width: 500 to 2,800 [WHAT? cms? inches?]

* Plastics sorted at one time: Unlimited number of polymers. (Using two valve blocks for ejection, TiTech equipment can remove two different colors, two different polymers or two groups of different polymers.)

* Ability to sort polycoat: Yes

It should also be noted that TiTech (which reports 850 units in use and more than 40 in North America) is an optical supplier that uses the full NIR spectrometer with 80,000 (standard) and 160,000 (High Resolution) full spectra measurements per second.

We apologize for any inconvenience that may have occurred as a result of the older data in the aforementioned article.

Sincerely,

Cathy Cirko

Director General, EPIC

Editor’s note: Thanks for the clarification. I recently attended a one-day workshop on single-stream recycling presented by the Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators (AMRC). Some of the presentations were very negative about single stream, yet it’s clear that if municipalities want to collect source-separated organics, co-collection is the way to go, and this will normally mean commingled (single stream) recyclables. So the issue isn’t going away. But it occurred to me that the challenges are technical, and mostly reside in the MRF. I have faith that human ingenuity will rise to the occasion and solve the technical challenges, especially since the financial reward is high for whoever does so. Optical sortation is going to be a big part of the solution, in my opinion, and I’m thankful you’re updating readers on the TiTech system. From a big picture perspective, we’re living through a sea change in waste management, which is going from being a low tech to a very high tech business. At the AMRC meeting, it was noted by most practitioners that glass (surprisingly) is not the big problem for them; rather, it’s contamination from plastics. I suspect the solution to that is close, and may already be at hand with the kind of equipment you describe. These are exciting times, and if we can share leading-edge information with one another via this magazine (and its website), we’ll attain our goals faster. — ed.

Dear Editor,

RE: “Ontario cities furious over leaked report”

It is very strange for us as the representative of a German waste treatment machinery manufacturer to understand that the Ontario government is unable to find a proper solution for the waste crisis in the GTA. Our proven German technology could solve the problem, but it is time to act, discuss, and implement it now.

As you know, in Germany we have over 66 waste incinerator plants operating under the most strict environmental regulations worldwide. There are no air emission problems. In Hamburg Germany there are four incinerators for a population of less than Toronto. This gives an idea about the required capacity we need here in the GTA to manage the waste.

Yours truly,

Klaus-G. Wagner

Wagner Consulting

wagcons@wagcons.com

Dear Editor,

RE: ARMA letter and editor’s note

As a landfill manager in Alberta, I’ve watched the shooting match between your magazine and our Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) with interest. What started out as an article detailing a series of probes by your magazine in July into the financial mechanics of Alberta’s new electronics recycling program was defensively answered by ARMA in August (and rebutted with a 1.5-page mini-editorial in the same issue). Then, in October, an editorial blurb announced that ARMA had “declined” your offer of “a whole page in which to speak directly to readers.” You have promised to pursue this matter until you receive disclosure on various accounting procedures.

Our facility has been recycling electronics since 2000 in an effort to make sure that the lasting effects of managing waste in our area don’t include heavy metal contamination. In 2001, our waste commission paid for a laboratory test on TV glass, which showed that the lead content contained in a grab sample of various broken TV screens was 747mg/kg, well over the Alberta hazardous waste definition of 500 mg/kg. During our first two years of electronics recycling, recyclers came to pick up all of our electronics (computers, TV’s, stereos, video games, communications equipment and other assorted material containing computer chips) for free. Then, in 2002, we had to pay for shipping, but still weren’t charged tonnage. In 2003, we were asked to pay (and did pay) tonnage for recycling our electronics, all for the privilege of keeping our area as pristine as possible for future generations.

When ARMA started the electronics recycling program last year, we were greatly relieved. After years of going it alone, we were being paid tonnage for the material we were delivering to recyclers. Funding from ARMA, at $50/tonne, enables us to hire personnel to palletize, itemize and shrink-wrap electronics as required by the program. Further funding pays for the shipping.

While ARMA doesn’t pay tonnage for about a quarter of the material we recycle here, the act of actually starting up the program has provided recyclers with the volume they need to be able to offer us a small per tonnage pay-out for this additional material.

Meanwhile, both the president and vice-president of Electronics Product Stewardship Canada (EPSC) made a wonderful presentation about all of the possibilities of recycling electronics at the Recycling Council of Alberta Conference of 2002. Unfortunately, they were surprisingly unable to answer any questions about timelines for the commencement of electronics recycling in Canada. Where is this EPR group today, almost four years later? Why is there not more mention of any EPR industry association activity in the anti-ARMA series? Could this possibly be because there is no activity? It seems that the extended producer responsibility industry groups must wait for government regulations to get the ball rolling on any actual programs which would show their responsibility.

While obviously no one expects your magazine to be a flag-waver for new programs, surely you must realize the relevance in today’s world of waste management options other than landfill (or incineration) for products containing hazardous properties.

To me, the fact that ARMA has engaged Stantec consultants to examine how the program has begun functioning while still in its first year says that evaluation will be constant and productive in terms of making sure that the fees charged to consumers are consistent with costs for running the program. As it is the first program of its type in North America, all of the fees have been based on estimates for the commencement. I’m glad that consumers in Alberta realize the benefits of our new recycling program and don’t have the inspiration-killing attitude of the editor at Solid Waste & Recycling magazine. How likely is it that after your accusatory and harsh words toward ARMA that they will meekly pass along the results of the recent Stantec study? Don’t worry; this information is now public knowledge on the ARMA website (which means you have access too).

Come on people, let’s have more solutions here. Less jealousy and a little more understanding; less mud-slinging and more cooperation toward

a remedy to our hazardous properties-within-products fix. Less east/west antagonism and more far-reaching problem solving; look at Europe’s WEEE program; accepting anything with a cord! That’s progress.

Yours truly in favour of safe waste management,

Jule Asterisk, Landfill Manager

Lesser Slave Regional Waste Management Services Facility

Dear Jule: Thanks for your letter. I agree that in terms of straight diversion from landfill, ARMA’s program will be effective. Our columnist — a lawyer — initially used ARMA as an example in making a broader point about the constitutionality of fees. ARMA then questioned our credibility in a letter, and I defended our magazine by showing that there was merit to the author’s concerns. ARMA has since been a lot more cooperative in sharing information with us, especially since I traveled to Alberta to raise the issues directly with the people involved in a public forum. (See ARMA Update page 16.) Your letter portrays the issue (accurately) from the landfill manager’s viewpoint. Our concerns relate to the broader EPR and program design issues pertaining to product stewardship, where we believe opportunities are being missed. At times we can’t investigate the latter without offending the former perspective, which is regrettable. I agree with your letter, however, except for one thing (and it’s something I’ve heard from ARMA staff as well) about which I must clear the air. This is not an “east/west” issue. Alberta has not been singled out for special criticism because I happen to live in Ontario. I edit a national magazine and, believe me, I’m just as happy to go after issues in Ontario and the east as I am about western programs. There are people in Ontario who would like to tar and feather me, and put me on the next rail car out of the province. I may offend, but I believe I’m at least an equal-opportunity offender. — ed.

Send your “letters to the editor” to gcrittenden@solidwastemag.com


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