Quebec wine & spirits deposit-refund squabble
In a way that’s eerily similar to the situation in Ontario, Quebec’s liquor board (SAQ) is refusing to place wine and liquor bottles in a deposit-refund system, even though most of the bottles in the province end up in the garbage and not in recycling bins.
La Presse has reported on a confidential report by Recycling-Quebec that says the government is reluctant to force the liquor board to add a deposit to bottles because SAQ pays millions of dollars each year to the recycling agency. The SAQ sells 147 million bottles of wine and liquor each year. About 25 per cent end up in green boxes. In other provinces, as many as 80 per cent of bottles are recycled.
Deposit-refund systems offer the advantage that many of the bottles could be kept intact and refilled by domestic producers. Also, the glass cullet could easily be kept separate for color (clear, green, brown, mixed) so that more glass could be recycled bottle-to-bottle and not end up being “downcycled” into low-value aggregate for construction in such things as road beds within landfills, which some people don’t consider true recycling.
Also see the O-I Canada news item below.
O-I castigates Ontario recycling system
Through its Canadian subsidiary O-I Canada Corporation, glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois (O-I) has written its comments to the Stewardship Ontario Blue Box Funding Review Committee. O-I operates two large glass recycling plants in Ontario.
The document constitutes something of an indictment of the current Ontario curbside recycling system, at least as it applies to glass containers. The document also sheds light on problems that may stem from single-stream recycling — a current trend.
The five-page letter pulls no punches and states: “..glass recycling in Ontario is failing and failing badly.”
“Single-stream” blue-box collection of recyclables means that more glass is being sent to landfill today than just a year ago, the letter says. Ironically, as Ontario ships millions of tonnes of garbage to Michigan each year for disposal, O-I Canada imports cullet derived from Michigan’s deposit-refund based recovery system to manufacture glass packaging in Ontario.
Rather than address the problem of low glass recycling rates, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), O-I says, the single largest source of waste glass in the province, is coercing its suppliers to switch to Tetra Pak cartons that are recovered at a rates of only 12.7 per cent (or one-fifth the rate at which glass is recovered by the blue box today). (See Editorial, page 4.)
The document is posted on our website under Posted Documents (at www.solidwastemag.com) and there is further commentary under Editor’s Blog.
Maine e-waste law takes effect
The State of Maine’s recycling law for electronics waste has come into effect. The law requires electronics manufacturers to pay the cost of recycling computer monitors and old TV sets generated by the residential sector. The Maine system works as follows: Municipalities collect the used electronics (“e-waste”), then deliver them to in-state consolidation facilities. At these facilities, electronics manufacturers handle and recycle their own branded products. The manufacturers then share the cost of recycling and orphaned products.
People interested in e-waste product stewardship in Canada are watching the development of the Maine system closely, as it will potentially demonstrate a model for Canadian jurisdictions. Unlike some programs in which full responsibility is passed off by the manufacturers to a stewardship body that sets separate fees, proponents of Maine’s system say that manufacturers have a direct connection in paying for the recycling of their specific products, so they have an incentive in making their products more easily recyclable. Manufacturers share the cost of that portion of e-waste for which no brand owner can be identified.
Toronto to fine non-recyclers, hire inspectors
The City of Toronto plans to conduct more garbage inspections and go after the roughly eight per cent of residents who don’t recycle. According to a recent bylaw, starting in April residents could be fined $105 if they repeatedly disregard the city’s curbside recycling, green bin and leaf and yard waste programs.
Officials say the goal is not to harass people who could make more use of the waste diversion programs, but to target people who are completely ignoring them by, for instance, repeatedly setting out garbage in bags without a recycling box or organics bin.
Drivers will alert bylaw officers who will follow up and ensure sure residents are aware of the bylaw and recycling programs, and ensure they have proper containers. After two weeks of further non-compliance, a warning letter will be sent. After another violation, the bylaw officer can issue a fine at his or her discretion. Multi-unit residences that don’t provide recycling facilities risk the removal of city garbage service.
The total cost of the program over the next two years is an estimated $834,710. The estimated cost of hiring six bylaw officers is almost $600,000. Council is considering the operating budget for the bylaw, which was passed in July. A rejection could halt or defer implementation for a year. But city staff say that with industry funding and income from the sale of recyclables, it’s now cheaper to recycle than to send waste to Michigan.
The mandatory recycling bylaw, in combination with a new four bag limit — down from six — could result in an additional 7,000 tonnes of recyclable material. The percentage of non-recyclers consists of 40,000 homes that aren’t recycling, but there are no specific problem areas in Toronto.
Aluminum prices increase blue box theft
Demand from China and overall soaring prices for metals such as aluminum, copper, zinc, etc. has led to increased theft of recyclable metal commodities across North America. Metal items, including highway and bridge guard rails, manhole covers and lamp posts, have been hauled away for sale to scrap dealers. The trend is now impacting blue-box curbside recycling programs in Toronto and elsewhere. Informal (and illegal) street scavengers may receive 1.5 cents for an aluminum soft-drink can.
Toronto collects about 90 million cans per year, three-quarters of them from single-family homes. There’s an average of five in each home’s blue box. The lowest amount the city has collected in aluminum revenues in the past decade is $1.96-million (2004). he city’s aluminum revenue goes up as prices rise, but some of the increase is lost to scavengers. The most recent world price per ton of aluminum is the highest in 17 years at $2,903, an increase of 85 per cent since 2002 (when it was $1,568).
WM plans to expand Ottawa facility
Waste Management of Canada (WM) has unveiled a proposal to expand its waste management facility on Carp Road to meet the recycling, composting and landfill capacity needs of a rapidly expanding City of Ottawa. WM also plans to capture the landfill gas and use it to generate four megawatts and eventually approximately 13 megawatts of electricity, which is enough power to supply up to 13,000 homes every day.
WM will undertake a comprehensive Environmental Assessment (EA) process that will consider the interests of the public, the environment and waste management. The first step in this process is the preparation of a draft Terms of Reference (ToR) document — a detailed plan for how it intends to conduct the EA. After WM has been made aware of the community’s views, a ToR will be submitted to the Ontario Minister of the Environment for approval. Following the minister’s approval, the EA will be initiated, with the ministry providing oversight and guidance throughout.
Contact Wes Muir at 905-633-3940.
EMS financing agreem
Environmental Management Solutions Inc. (TSX:EMS) recently announced that it has entered into a non-binding letter of agreement with ONCAP II, L.P. (ONCAP) through which the company will be recapitalized with approximately $20 million of new financing. EMS will use the proceeds of the ONCAP investment to repay existing indebtedness, to finance certain growth initiatives, and to pay for the litigation settlement with the former CEO. EMS is a leading environmental services company specializing in the management, treatment, re-use, and disposal, of organic waste and contaminated soil, with an emphasis on beneficial re-use.
Company plans new film plastic recycling plants
Mountain Valley Recycling, a plastic film and bag recycling facility and resin manufacturer, has announced the addition of a new processing line to its existing production facility in Morristown, Tennessee and plants for new locations, including Ontario. The company specializes in recycling post-consumer films such as grocery and retail bags, stretch wrap and municipal films. The new line adds 15 million pounds of recycling capacity annually. Mountain Valley has placed an order to install two additional recycling lines in 2006, bringing its film recycling capacity to over 70 million pounds per year.
To meet strong demand, the site selection and qualification process is underway to open three additional plastic film recycling facilities by the end of 2007. The first opening is scheduled for May 2006 with a 90,000 square foot facility in Ontario, Canada. Future recycling facilities will be located in Nevada and Texas to accommodate the flow of recovered material from Mountain Valley’s sourcing partner, NextLife Recycling.