Ontario's move to a circular economy requires a comprehensive organics diversion strategy. see more
Ontario is steadily advancing toward a circular economy. The government has already taken steps to reform existing recycling programs and has laid out its Waste-Free Ontario Strategy to guide the province’s path toward a diversion rate of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Achieving these goals, however, will require a comprehensive plan to tackle organic waste.
Every year, Ontarians generate more than 12 million tonnes of garbage, which is enough to fill the Rogers Centre nearly 16 times. About a third of that number, or roughly four million tonnes, is organic waste.
Throwing out such a large amount of organic materials not only represents a lost opportunity for Ontario to create jobs and growth in the circular economy, but it also generates a significant amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the province.
With roughly 5% of GHG emissions coming from disposal, Ontario must increase organics diversion to meet its climate change goals and advance toward a more circular economy.
Moving in this direction will better protect our environment and promote job creation by opening up new markets for recovered organic waste, which can be used to generate biogas energy and create compost or other amendments to enrich soil on farms.
Ontario government places priority on organics diversion
To facilitate Ontario’s transition to a circular economy, the government has already taken action in several areas that the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) has advocated for in our ReThink Organic Waste paper in 2015 and in our most recent submission to the government.
First, the government has announced that it intends to release a Food Waste and Organics Action Plan by the spring of 2018. To assist with the development of this plan, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has established a working group of producers and waste management service providers to help set standards, timelines and responsibilities for the reduction and diversion of organic waste.
Second, the government is working with the Climate Action Reserve to adapt existing protocols under the Western Climate Initiative to govern the sale and trading of offset credits for organics diversion within the province’s cap-and-trade market. These offset credits will provide a financial incentive to invest in the compost and biogas sectors.
Third, the government intends to develop a policy statement to complement its plan to reduce and divert organic waste in advance of introducing a food waste disposal ban.
For the government to achieve all these goals, several regulatory and policy changes still must be made.
Transitioning to a circular economy for organic waste
As an active member of the province’s organics working group, the OWMA has highlighted the need for more processing capacity in Ontario.
In the OWMA’s State of Waste in Ontario: Organics Report, which was released last year, we determined that 1.4 million tonnes of Ontario’s organic waste is currently being processed while more than 2 million tonnes is not.
That means Ontario will require significantly more processing capacity to achieve the government’s potential targets of 40% organics diversion by 2025 and 60% by 2035.
Currently, our research shows Ontario has a total of 76 organics processing facilities, or 41 compost and 35 anaerobic digestion facilities.
To increase the province’s processing capacity, the OWMA has outlined steps that must be a part of the government’s strategy.
First, the government must reduce the regulatory burden for organic processing facilities while maintaining the highest level of environmental protection. Ontario businesses can wait up to 300 days to get a standard environmental approval required to develop or upgrade a facility. These delays must be reduced to attract further investment in processing facilities.
Second, the government should encourage the best use of organic materials by introducing new policy tools, such as disposal bans, disposal levies and, potentially, extended producer responsibility programs.
Finally, the government should align its climate and energy policies, which includes those for offset credits and renewable natural gas. Reducing regulatory overlap and ensuring policies complement, not conflict, with one another will play an essential role in encouraging the required investment to build the processing capacity Ontario needs to achieve its waste diversion and climate change goals.
(This op-ed was written by OWMA Communications Director Shane Buckingham and was published in Solid Waste & Recycling Magazine.)
OWMA Letter in Support of Organics Action Plan see more
The OWMA sent this letter to Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray to show the association's support for the development of an Organics Action Plan, which was a key committment of the provincial government indicated in Premier Kathleen Wynne's mandate letter to Minister Murray.
Glen Murray stressed the importance of continued collaboration on building a circular economy. see more
Ontario’s move to a more circular economy is “an entrepreneurial exercise” that requires continued collaboration and new partnerships, Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said in his speech at the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority’s annual general meeting in Toronto on June 21.
Creating a circular economy will take “societal transformation,” he said, which starts with a cultural shift similar to what occurred during the founding of the province’s first recycling programs, such as the Blue Box.
“The success we had in getting here was because we all put aside our individual interests … and decided that we were going to build something together that government couldn’t build on its own,” he said.
To help develop partnerships between industry and government that can facilitate the transition to a more circular economy in Ontario, Murray encouraged attendees to connect with the Authority’s board members and set up meetings to discuss shared priorities.
“Walk away with a sense of mission and get to know one member of the board, and figure out how you can support them,” he said. “Start engaging with them as your representatives in this process.”
To view the Minister’s full speech, click here.
The OWMA and EREF are gathering feedback on designing a Canadian-based research program. see more
The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) and the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) are seeking feedback from waste management professionals on how to effectively conduct and promote academic research that supports the sector in Canada.
The feedback gathered from the survey, which can be accessed by clicking here, will be used to help structure a Canadian research program managed by EREF and prioritize areas of focus, including advances in technology, workplace health and safety, the development of end markets, the optimization of operations and the collection and standardization of data.
The survey launch follows a successful meeting held in Toronto on March 2 hosted by EREF and the OWMA to bring together industry representatives, municipal officials and regulators to work on finding ways to better coordinate research efforts on sustainable materials management.
At the meeting, participants reviewed EREF’s work in the United States and discussed ways to meet Canadian research needs and build upon the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year by the OWMA and EREF. The MOU sets out a framework to fund and facilitate research to address the needs of the waste management sector in Canada and foster relationships with Canadian academic institutions.
Developing an EREF-led research program in Canada has several different advantages for the sector. It would:
- Provide a neutral platform for private and public organizations across the country to collaborate on common research interests;
- Leverage the expertise of EREF on facilitating and overseeing academic research; and,
- Connect North American research efforts, including those that involve companies already operating in both Canada and the United States.
To play a part in the helping to structure this program, all OWMA members are encouraged to take the survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EREFCanada).
EREF is a 501(c) class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, scholarships, visit www.erefdn.org.
The OWMA is representing the sector's key priorities on the used-tires regulation to the province. see more
OWMA staff and members met last week with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to present the association’s recommendations for a new used-tires regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (RRCEA).
The OWMA’s draft recommendations, which were developed by the association’s Used Tires Caucus, were well received by MOECC officials and will serve as the foundation for our efforts to reform the province’s e-waste, household hazardous materials, and printed paper and packaging programs.
In early May, the Ministry will be holding broader consultations to provide stakeholders with an overview of the key components of the government’s planned used-tires regulation while gathering feedback that will help to refine and improve this proposal.
This plan keeps the government on track with its timeline to wind up the province’s existing waste diversion programs and industry funding organizations (IFOs), such as Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS).
On February 17, 2017, the Minister sent a letter to OTS, requiring it to submit a plan to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority to wind up the used-tires program and IFO by Oct. 31, 2017.
According to the Minister’s directions, the organization and program must be fully wound up by Dec. 31, 2018, so that the government can implement a new producer responsibility regulation for used tires under the RRCEA.
The OWMA's most recent edition to its leading publication series: ReThink Waste. see more
Read the second installment in the OWMA's leading publication series: ReThink Waste. The recommendations contained in this report have had a noticeable impact on the development of waste management policy in Ontario and the transition to a more circular economy. To download the report, click here.
StatsCan's latest data shows waste diversion is up, along with job creation and operating revenues. see more
The Ontario waste management sector made gains in operating revenues and job creation while the amount of waste diverted to recycling and organics processing facilities in 2014 increased by more than 7%, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
Total materials managed by recycling facilities in Ontario rose to more than 3 million tonnes in 2014, up 7.6% from 2012. However, the provincial waste diversion rate remains at roughly 25%.
More than 2 million tonnes of the materials diverted from landfill in Ontario were from residential sources (a 5.3% increase from 2012) while slightly less than 1 million tonnes were from non-residential sources (a 12.5% increase from 2012).
Gains in job creation, operating revenues accompany increased waste diversion
The uptick in waste diversion was accompanied by increased revenues and job growth in the sector. The number of waste management workers inched up in 2014 to 14,476 – a 1% improvement over 2012. Operating revenues for the sector saw bigger gains, rising more than 6% to $3.77 billion in 2014, up from $3.55 billion in 2012.
The national trend was similar to Ontario, with gains in job growth and operating revenues, along with a 7% increase in waste diversion. Total waste diverted in Canada, as of 2014, now stands at 9.1 million tonnes.
The OWMA has continued to call for a greater focus on increasing waste diversion because of its positive effect on the economy.
In 2014, our association commissioned a study with the Conference Board of Canada, which found that moving to a more circular economy, in which materials are increasingly recovered and recycled into new products, could support the creation of about 13,000 new jobs and provide a $1.5-billion boost to the province’s GDP.
Sarnia-based recycler names new business ReVital Polymers. see more
Tony Moucachen, founder and President of Merlin Plastics Group, and Emmie Leung, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Emterra Group, have taken another step forward in the development of their plastics recycling company by naming the business ReVital Polymers Inc. and launching a new website, RevitalPolymers.com.
Leung and Moucachen formed a partnership last summer to purchase the assets of Entropex, a Sarnia-based recycling company that went into receivership in July 2016. The partners acquired the company’s recycling equipment and a 180,000-square-foot facility with the aim of developing a new business, which would recover both consumer and industrial plastics to process them into different types of resins.
Choosing the brand
The company chose the name ReVital Polymers because it signifies regeneration, which is a key theme in the transition to a more circular economy, said Paulina Leung, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development.
“When we were developing the brand, we wanted a meaningful and current company name that embodied a sense of energy and action. As we went through the creative process, all of the words that kept coming to mind had the prefix ‘re’ in it – words like regenerate, restore and revitalize,” Leung said. “We agreed that we liked the word revitalize, and shortened it to ReVital to represent our company’s mission to recover and recycle plastics into products that can support growth in Ontario’s circular economy.”
The business objective
A core component of increasing waste diversion in Ontario is the creation of sustainable end-markets for recycled products, Leung said. “ReVital’s business model is to establish steady, local demand for recycled plastics that are generated right here in Ontario. We’re investing millions of dollars into our facility to increase its efficiency and produce high-quality, end-use products that remain in demand despite fluctuations in the global economy.”
ReVital Polymers is well-positioned for success given the record and experience of its founders, Leung said. “Both Emmie and Tony are serious entrepreneurs. They can see the potential of people, assets and locations when others can only see risk.”
The business record
The two partners have identified and seized opportunities to develop new business before, most notably in British Columbia with the launch of a joint-venture, Green by Nature EPR, which includes Merlin Group, Emterra Group and Cascades Recovery.
GBN receives, transfers, processes and markets printed paper and packaging (PPP) in B.C. under Recycle BC (previously known as Multi-Material BC). B.C. is the first jurisdiction in North America to have a full extended producer responsibility (EPR) program for PPP.
“Canada’s geography and population density makes recycling collection and processing much different than in Europe,” Leung said. “To be able to efficiently manage printed paper and packaging across such a wide region like B.C. is a real accomplishment and positions us well in Ontario to provide the same level of service.”
Leung said that the upgrades and improvements on ReVital Polymers’ facility are about 75% done, and the company should be ready to begin operations within the coming months.
The OWMA made several recommendations last year on modernizing approvals. see more
This letter to the Ontario government, which was sent on Nov. 16, 2016, includes a comprehensive list of recommendations on how to streamline the Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs) process in a way that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance the province’s move toward a more circular economy. To download the letter, click here.