BC organics recycling regulation
The government in British Columbia is proposing to amend the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation under the Environmental Management Act and the Health Act. The proposed amendments are the result of the mandated review within three years of the regulation coming into force. This regulation addresses the construction and operation of composting facilities, as well as the production, distribution, storage, sale and use or land application of biosolids and compost. It’s intended to protect soil quality and drinking water sources, as well as to provide an opportunity to use organic matter that would otherwise be burned or disposed.
The government has released a discussion paper entitled “Organic Matter Recycling Regulation: Policy Intentions Paper for Consultation” which details requirements for composting facilities, sets out the materials that are suitable for composting, and discusses the requirements for production of “biosolids growing medium.” The categories of organic matter identified as being suitable for composting include primary or secondary pulp and paper mill wastewater treatment residuals, clean wood from any source, unstabilized sewage sludge, animal carcasses, and paper and cardboard. The discussion paper also discusses compliance issues and attempts to incorporate scientific advancements.
Ontario commissioner criticizes diversion progress
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Gord Miller highlighted and criticized the province’s lack of waste diversion progress in his annual report. He indicated that in 2004 the Ministry of the Environment stated its goal of diverting 60 per cent of solid waste from landfills or incineration by 2008. Commissioner Miller’s criticism relates to the fact that the ministry didn’t announce any specific plans to achieve this objective until 2006, almost two years after the first announcement was made. Commissioner Miller noted that the delay between the announcement of the objective and the strategy to achieve waste diversion has made it extremely difficult to achieve this goal within the stated timeframe.
Alberta reviewing Codes of Practice
Alberta has indicated that it is reviewing several waste-related Codes of Practice and has requested public comment on these documents. One of these is the Code of Practice for Landfills, which outlines minimum requirements for the construction, operation and reclamation of landfills that accept 10,000 tonnes or less per year of non-hazardous and inert waste. The other document is the Code of Practice for Composting Facilities, which outlines minimum requirements for the design, construction, operation and reclamation of Class I compost facilities that accept 20,000 tonnes or less per year of waste.
Ontario alcohol containers on deposit
The Ontario government has announced a new deposit-refund program for wine and spirit containers. As of February of 2007, consumers will pay a deposit when they purchase wines or spirits, and empty containers can be returned to The Beer Store for a full refund. Details of the deposit rate structure have not yet been released, but will be comparable to other jurisdictions in Canada, which range from 5 cents for small containers to 40 cents for large containers. The Ontario government believes that the program will assist in diverting approximately 25,000-30,000 additional tons of glass from landfills, thereby considerably reducing materials going into blue boxes. (See Editorial, page 4.)
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has been supportive of the proposal and believes it is a positive development. While many glass bottles and other containers sold by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario end up in municipal blue boxes, the absence of a means to sort glass by colour means that only a small portion of these bottles are actually recycled into other containers. The remaining bottles are sold at a loss to be used in the manufacture of products, such as asphalt and concrete, or sent to municipal landfills as crushed glass. The AMO is also supportive of the proposal because it shifts the costs from Ontario property taxpayers, who are currently paying more than four times the amount paid by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to municipalities under the Blue Box Program Plan.
Corporations Supporting Recycling is opposed to the program. It believes the proposal could jeopardize a major municipal-industry joint venture whereby Unical of Montreal was to create new glass processing capacity for glass collected in municipal recycling programs in and around the Greater Toronto Area.
Environment Canada addresses base metals waste
Environment Canada has released a guidance document entitled “Guidance @First Paragraph:Document for Management of Waste from the Base Metals Smelting Sector.” The National Office of Pollution Prevention is involved with this initiative on behalf of Environment Canada. The document identifies technically feasible options to minimize and manage wastes, and includes guidance regarding best available techniques for waste management for this sector. Base metals smelting wastes are defined as “materials which are discarded from industrial processes for disposal without the possibility of resource recovery.” According to the guidance document, such wastes could include slags, drosses, skimmings, spent linings and refractories, pollution abatement system wastes, liquid effluent treatment wastes and hydrometallurgical wastes.
Rosalind Cooper, LL.B. is a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, with offices across Canada. Ms. Cooper is based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact Rosalind at firstname.lastname@example.org
New waste management reg seeks to streamline Ontario’s EA process
by Michael Cant & Ted O’Neill
The Environmental Assessment (EA) regulatory process for waste management in Ontario, which many stakeholders have found slow, costly and unpredictable, may be on its way out. Pressure to find a better solution to Ontario’s waste woes is in the works and stakeholders are invited to make their voices heard on a newly-developed draft environmental assessment approval process.
Ontario’s waste management problem has been a long time developing, and the difficulties posed by the EA process were one of the main reasons why the number of large operating landfills, numbering in the hundreds in the 1980s, has shrunk so much in the years since. Perhaps the most public manifestation of the problem has been the steady parade of trucks carrying some of southern Ontario’s waste to landfills in Michigan.
Less noticeable has been the growth in the stream of waste produced by the province’s residences, businesses and institutions, despite diversion efforts. As the waste stream grows, solutions to managing it are declining.
The Minister of the Environment, Laurel Broten, has been talking for some time of the need to close the resulting gap. In a speech to the Municipal Waste Integration Network (MWIN) in June 2006, for example, she talked of the need for a review of the EA process to make it work “better and faster,” while at the same time protecting the environment.
Broten promised a new EA waste regulation modelled after a process that has been successfully used since 2001 for regulating electricity-generation projects such as wind farms, biomass to energy, and gas-fired turbines.
The proposed new EA regulation for waste management projects and guidelines to EA requirements is now ready for stakeholder comment. It’s designed to help proponents understand clearly what they must do to gain approval for their project and how long the approval process will take. The environment ministry hopes that by injecting more certainty into the process, more proponents will come forward with solutions to solve the province’s waste management challenge.
There are three streams in the new p
* No EA requirements for expansions of small municipal landfills, where there is no significantly increased environmental impact.
* For projects over the threshold, there is a proponent-driven process similar to that used for electrical-generation projects.
* Larger projects will require a more complete EA process.
Members of the waste-management sector and municipal authorities need to take steps to understand the proposed new regulatory environment, in order to see how it will affect them. If they discover potential problems, the time to notify the ministry is while the regulations are still in draft form and subject to change. A key aspect of the new environment is a closely prescribed permitting process, so it’s essential that the industry not get locked in to procedures that will turn out to be difficult or even unworkable and thus not advance the state of waste management in Ontario.
The ministry is actively seeking stakeholder response to the draft regulations and guidelines, so if these regulations will affect you, be sure your voice is heard.
Michael Cant (email@example.com) and Ted O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org) are members of the Waste Management Group of Golder Associates Ltd.