In Canada, circular economy is a relatively new concept that goes beyond the traditional notion of recycling and shuns the concept of take, make, and dispose. It aims to purposefully keep resources in use for as long as possible; extract the maximum value from them while in use; and recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. The concept also allows us to think more broadly and consider resource efficiencies, sharing economies, and disruptive product and business models.
Photo credit: Government of Ontario
RCO has historically endorsed two key objectives: the most efficient use of resources; and the elimination of waste. Our mandate has been to simultaneously build tools and programs that help transform Ontario’s marketplace to value resource efficiency by embedding material management reutilization in product and systems design. This reutilization is effective if it reduces financial and economic impacts of consumption and production cycles. The circular economy embodies this. While many of us think about the waste value chain more clearly in the context of an individual consumer buying products; equally as important is the opportunity for the industrial and commercial sector to advance a circular economy.
That’s why on June 8, 2017, RCO hosted the second of its three-part Knowledge Sessions series with a forum titled Accelerating Circular Economic Behaviour and Waste Reduction in the IC&I Sector.
- In Canada, the IC&I sector is responsible for 65 per cent of the 25 million tonnes of waste generated annually
- Only 19 per cent of that is kept away from disposal
- The residential sector has a diversion rate of more than 65 per cent largely driven from municipal programs.
- In Ontario 11.5 million tonnes of waste was generated in total and 75 per cent of that is lost to disposal
- Ontario generated about 3.6 million tonnes of food and organic waste, of which more than 60 per cent was lost to disposal, the majority derived from the IC&I sector
Why the IC&I sector
The IC&I sector is diverse, and the waste stream has a more diverse composition of material and collection is more complex compared to the residential sector. As it is predominately serviced by the private sector, on a building by building basis, it is also difficult to build economies of scale and maintain the same level of source separation of materials that is cornerstone of maximizing material values.
Unlike municipalities that service homes, the IC&I generator does not have a standardized method of collecting data or information, or measuring performance. Most analytics are derived from service provider billings or reports, using weights or frequency of pick-up as performance benchmarks. While audits, particularly in Ontario, are required by way of regulation, there no audit standards making them an ineffective management tool.
To take a holistic view and give a unified voice to the challenges of the IC&I sector, RCO convened an Advisory Committee of individuals and organizations that represent the diversity of the IC&I sector. That committee met over the several months to help RCO better understand the sector to identify barriers to improved performance. Discussions from these meetings provided impetus and topic areas for Accelerating Circular Economic Behaviour and Waste Reduction in the IC&I Sector.
Panel 1: Regulatory Landscapes
Policymakers (from left): Renee Dello, City of Toronto; Derek Gray (Facilitator); Lindsay Seidel-Wassenaar, City of Calgary; Andrew Marr, Metro Vancouver
- Metro Vancouver: landfill ban on organics in Metro Vancouver has been largely successful
- 90 per cent of restaurants had access to organics recycling in 2016 compared to 25 per cent in 2012
- Challenges with odours at organics processing facilities, which necessitated a reduction in IC&I material being accepted
- About 1/3 of the region’s municipalities have mandatory bylaws for IC&I recycling or organics diversion
- Waste-to-energy not counted as diversion
- Calgary: goal of 75 per cent diversion in the IC&I sector by 2025
- 220,000 tonnes to disposal
- Implemented mandatory recycling in 2016 and implementing mandatory organics diversion end of 2017
- Landfill bans: 2018 paper and cardboard; 2019 organics
- Not getting data from private haulers that go to private landfill
- IC&I tonnage that goes to city landfills declining; haulers take material to transfer stations and then to private landfill
- Toronto: not obligated or mandated to provide waste management services to IC&I
- Challenge is to identify a mechanism to allow the City to influence greater waste diversion in the IC&I sector
- City Council endorsed a goal of 70 per cent diversion of materials collected for all City-serviced IC&I customers
- Currently examining options under the City of Toronto Act
Slides: (PDF, 45 pages, 13.5 MB)
Generators (from left): Myrka Manzo, Air Canada; Derek Gray, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
- Pearson: 44 million travellers passed through facility in 2016; expects 80 million travellers to pass through facility by 2085
- Current diversion rate is 74 per cent in terminals
- Has to comply with waste regulations at three levels: international, federal, municipal
- Air Canada: onboard diversion most challenging; 5.2M tonnes of waste generated worldwide on aircrafts in 2016
- Flight crew has ability to separate material depending on jurisdiction
- Complex rules for airlines
- Sorting can be done during flight by on-board staff; material not recovered must be done by groomers whose priority is speed to ensure plane is ready for next flight
Slides (PDF, 23 pages, 5 MB)
Panel 2: Organics
Organics (from left): Lisa Vanlint, University Health Network (Facilitator); André Martin, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change; Melissa Potter, Cadillac Fairview; Christine Bome, Walmart; Lori Nikkel, Second Harvest; Paul van der Werf, 2CG; Tim Murphy, Walker Industries;
- Walmart: three primary methods to reduce organic waste: sell material at peak freshness, donate material that’s still useful, divert remaining waste
- Diversion is most expensive option
- All material can be shipped, however, care is taken to not to increase ecological footprint
- Ministry of Environment and Climate Change: Seeks input from stakeholders via a discussion paper to develop a Food and Organic Waste Framework, which will include government directions and actions to:
- Reduce the amount of food that becomes waste
- Remove food and appropriate organic materials from the disposal stream
- Reduce GHG emissions from food and organic waste
- Support and stimulate end markets to recover the value from food and organic wastes
- Increase accountability of responsible parties
- Improve data on food and organic materials Enhance promotion and education regarding food and organic waste
- Walker Industries: Organics are a complex material with multiple potential purposes; the regulations and systems developed to address it must be flexible and robust to optimize best use of organics
- Need to align policies across agencies to ensure co-ordinated objectives; MOECC, OMAFRA, MOE and MMAH policies must align on key issues, including facility location, product quality, energy value, and residuals management
- Economics of scale of collection, processing and distribution infrastructures will help drive greater volumes of organics into recycling rather than disposal
- Contamination is a significant challenge; need to maintain current high standards for compost while enabling beneficial use of material not meeting standard
- Collaborative discussions between government, generators, collectors, processors, and end users must continue on ongoing basis given accelerated advancements
- Second Harvest: Receives/rescues 9.5 million tonnes of food from donation annually
- Not a food bank
- 90 per cent is perishable
- Initially received material exclusively from restaurants and now acquires from through the supply chain
- Federal tax inventive on food waste is preferred over a ban
- America has been able to recover 50 per cent more material this way
- Would like to see Canadian Food Inspection Agency update methods of best before dates
- Cadillac-Fairview: Diversion rates are increasing (74 to 86 per cent) but waste intensity continues to grow due to more material volumes
- Organics diversion most costly waste stream to manage
- Organics 20-35 per cent of total waste; current average recovery rate of managed facilities at 50-60 per cent
- Food courts represent a significant portion of portfolio waste
- Strategies to reduce waste in food courts include reusable dishware, sorting stations, composters on-site.
- 2CG: policy should be based in a case study that looks at behavioural aspect and compares what people think they do compared to what they actually do
- Paper and packaging has been covered, opportunity to apply key learnings to organics where there is a lot of opportunity in the IC&I sector
- Regulation is key to shift the market to increase diversion
Slides (26 pages, 11 MB)
Panel 3: Measuring Waste: Tracking and Reporting
Measuring Waste (from left): Rosanna D’Alessandro, Loblaw Companies Limited; Anika de la Flor, Quadreal; Jorden Lefler, Business, Buildings, Design, & Construction (Facilitator); Larry Freiburger, AET Group
- Loblaw: Recently assessed/analyzed waste operations: key takeaway was to streamline waste terminology throughout organization, to standardize waste classification of materials, and to create check and balances to support data accuracy
- Effective to audit service providers as accuracies based on weight is circumspect
- Tracking incoming material at the source is an effective waste reduction method
- Employees become more engaged in helping fulfil sustainability goals when they see their efforts directly contribute to waste reduction
- Quadreal: formed in 2016, built from consolidating assets and expertise of Bentall Kennedy, GWL Realty Advisors, and Realstar, and manages more than $18 billion in real estate assets globally
- When interacting with haulers, accurate data must be provided, ideally digitally and in real time, in order to improve performance
- Deliberate attention from the property manager and cleaning staff is vital to achieve high diversion rates
- To improve accountability and transparency, measurement and disclosure of waste data needs to be openly shared
- AET: organizations should focus on capture rate as the primary metric to measure performance
- Audits shouldn’t overlook material, and composition of waste is important in tracking waste
- Waste is a result of inefficiencies in the system and written off as a cost of doing business
- Improved inventory control can make significant difference is waste reduction
Slides (PDF, 21 pages, 3.6 MB)
Panel 4: Waste Supply Chain
Waste Supply Chain (from left): Gary Lewis, Walmart; John Pahulje, New West Gypsum Recycling; Bruce Westaway, Cascades; Daniel Reshef, Canada Fibers; Jim Johnston, BMO Bank of Montreal (Facilitator)
- Walmart: Not enough to simply send material to a recycler
- Important to track and document what happens to material further down the supply chain: was material contaminated at any point?
- Cascades: one bin is not a solution, and single-stream recycling is ineffective though less expensive
- Reporting standards will lead to a level playing field that will benefit the industry
- Cost of remanufacturing has to be less than virgin material for a circular economy to be successful
- Products that are not circular are penalized in a level playing field
- New West Gypsum: Limited separation and redirection of recyclable materials from the waste stream
- Organics is currently a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change priority area, however, it can be expanded to other material that has a processor capable of taking material
- When questioned about the most effective tool to assist recycling, landfill ban is preferred to a landfill levy.
- Enforcing a landfill ban (as they have done in Vancouver) provides feedstock for recyclers and benefits users of recycled material. New West Gypsum: Enforcing a landfill ban provides feedstock of recyclers and benefit industry
- Canada Fibers: Important for generators to have an open dialogue with service providers for Request for Proposals to identify more opportunities for improvements and diversion
- Transparency and education for generators are key for facilitating change
- Follow your material and go visit recovery and recycling facilities to learn about where material ends up and what actually gets recycled
- More use of recycled content in new products and packaging strengthens end markets and so drives diversion and infrastructure investments
Slides (PDF, 31 pages, 17 MB)
We were pleased to welcome Mr. Tom Kennedy, Global Civil Engineering Leader for international design firm Arup. Mr. Kennedy oversees the organization’s research goals and priorities for various projects around the world, and in doing so, pursues tangible initiatives that supports circular economy principles:
- Designing for resource efficiency in construction, designing out waste, and using sustainable construction materials
- Using building information modelling (BIM) to improve construction productivity, asset performance management, and provide material passports
- Designing buildings to be modular, flexible, upgradeable, resource productive, and circular
- Applying sensor technology in structural health monitoring systems for infrastructure projects that facilitates predictive maintenance and prolongs service life of assets
- Using innovative materials and solutions such as biopolymers in façades and bioreactor algae for renewable energy generation
- Exploring how additive manufacturing (3D printing) can improve material and construction productivity
- Creating closed loop material flows and eliminating waste
Mr. Kennedy spoke to different strategies and cited a series of examples that apply circular economy principles in construction; presented a series of innovative products and materials that consider end-of-life management as part of the design phase; and challenged the audience and organizations to treat waste as a commodity and a resource throughout the entire value chain.
Slides (PDF, 75 pages, 9 MB)
Discussions between panelists and delegates was fulsome and unfettered. RCO will be sending highlights of key discussions from the event to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Stakeholders are welcome to provide additional input.
RCO Related Programs
A specially designed program for waste reduction and recycling in the IC&I sector, 3RCertified recognizes organizations and properties that demonstrate leadership, helps organizations assess their operations through internal and third-party reviews and verification.
The program's criteria looks at how solid waste is managed, and goes well beyond just diversion from disposal by considering all aspects of management – from policies and waste audits through operations, procurement of products and services, management reviews, and more.
3RCertified also takes into consideration compliance, offers a holistic perspective to review and improve tracking and reporting, can shed light on the waste supply chain to ensure materials are properly managed through to final disposition, and aspects can be linked to review and improve specific waste streams, including organics.
The program can be leveraged in a variety of ways, and offers a series of modules:
- Retail Store
- Retail Complex
- Industrial (manufacturing, warehouse, distribution centre)
- Hotel / Motel : Restaurant (fast food, full service, catering service)
- Educational Establishment
We were also pleased to present Dana Manufacturing and Canadian Tire with their 3RCertified plaques on June 8.
Scott Daniel, Environmental and Health and Safety Co-ordinator at Dana Corporation (left) is presented with a 3RCertified Silver plaque by Diane Blackburn, Program Manager, 3RCertified
Jo-Anne St.Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario (left) and Diane Blackburn (centre) present James Skuza, Senior Environmental Consultant, Canadian Tire (right) with 3RCertified plaques at Gold and Platinum levels for their distribution centres and resource recovery faclility in Brampton.
For more information visit www.3RCertified.ca
Take Back the Light
Take Back the Light is Canada's leading light recycling program for businesses and institutions, and provides a simple low-cost opportunity to have fluorescent lamps and light fixtures to be recycled responsibly.
The program encourages commercial buyers of lighting to make responsible choices. Whether an industrial area or a series of office areas buyers leverage their purchasing influence to choose sellers and retailers that extend their services to include proper recycling. The program also has first-of-its-kind recycling standard that ensures full recovery of mercury and accountability of all material to final disposition.
Since 2008, Take Back the Light has collected 19.6 million lamps; and recovered 70 kilograms of mercury, 4.6 million kilograms of glass, 70,000 kilograms of aluminum, and 67,000 kilograms of phosphorus powder for recycling purposes.
For more information visit www.TakeBacktheLight.ca