Nov. 18, 2015
Beyond Paper and Pop Bottles
Improving Management of Challenging Materials
Recycling has plateaued in Ontario. To improve recovery rates the market must broaden the scope of material it manages and go beyond paper and pop bottles.
For this session, representatives from institutions and commercial organizations, large and small, shared their perspective on improved performance with materials that have been historically difficult to recycle, and how they are integrated into their operations.
Krista Friesen noted that one of the big challenges for Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) in tackling diversion is data from the IC&I sector. Specifically, what specifically is being generated and how it is being managed. With a large focus on packaging, plastics are categorized by resin type.
There are six primary plastic resin types indicated as numbers 1 through 6, with a seventh categorized as “other”. Plastics can be grouped as rigid and flex packaging, with the former being more established and easier to recycle.
CPIA has piloted several commercial properties that included education and engagement to help drive greater diversion at a shopping centre and grocery store, for example. Key learnings from each pilot are then included in a ‘tip sheet’ to help communicate solutions and even potential revenue opportunities to organizations in the IC&I sector.
Paul van der Werf of 2cg Inc. shared his expertise in organics management and research. Like Ms. Friesen and other speakers in RCO’s Knowledge Sessions, he stressed that data continues to be an issue worth pursuing and understanding to help make informed decisions.
Organic waste is biological, which means it will create greater odour and decompose at a certain rate depending on how it is stored on site. It can also easily contaminate other recyclables or become contaminated, and overall can be difficult to manage as it has a “yuk” factor (most people prefer to not handle organic waste).
Cost for service is another issue; while compost as an end product creates value, for example, there are enough upfront costs to affect the price per tonne for the generator. Capacity issues for processing facilities can vary by location.
Some types of organic waste facilities may not have enough capacity to meet demand – especially if a new bylaw is introduced mandating organic landfill ban, without a way for capacity issues to be addressed first.
Changing the conversation to food waste reduction. Aiming to factor in what are the environmental and social impacts to food waste can perhaps drive greater action to reduce the overall amount of material generated.
For Ivanhoé Cambridge, a national commercial property management firm, one of the challenges it faces is the geographic diversity of policies and programs. While stakeholder engagement on material diversion continues to be top priority, for Sera Kontarini, the issue in predominantly retail properties is that tenants and the public – not company staff – generate waste.
Waste audits are conducted annually throughout the country and used as tools.
Feedback is provided to stakeholders in order to be more transparent and communicate how site teams can help drive greater diversion.
A friendly competition between property teams is created naturally as each site aims to do better the following year. Target setting at the corporate and building level helps drive both material diversion and reduction of generated waste.
There is no one solution that fits all.
Ivanhoé Cambridge continuously looks for new solutions, as well as to partner with tenants and service providers to increase performance.
Diversion rate can be a misleading metric when it is the only one used, because it relies on weight (mass) to determine performance. Plastics, for example, tend to be lightweight and high in volume.
Producers have been designing packaging that includes less material. The diversion rate of lightweight packaging is therefore affected. Organic waste is very heavy, hence it can positively affect diversion rate but once again, does not help determine the kind of performance that changes behaviour toward overall waste reduction. In other words, the more organic waste that is diverted, the better; however, the creation of unnecessary food waste destined for composting is not captured in the diversion rate metric. Paul van der Werf suggested a per-unit metric that can help determine per person waste generated over a specified period.
RCO’s 3RCertified program reports on three performance matrices: diversion rate, capture rate, and year-over-year per unit reduction rate. Procurement Recommended steps to help ensure service providers meet customer needs:
- Step 1: write down a list of desired services, including the kind of materials your organization would like to recycle. Follow with research to establish whether or not there are established markets for the materials you wish to divert in the locations where the services are required.
- Step 2: Include the list of desired services in an RFP along with a request for service providers to include the location(s) of where materials are destined (recycling facilities).
- Step 3: Markets change and with it service providers must be flexible.
It is the responsibility of the procuring company to request their service provider to ensure the destination and disposition of materials are made available. Transparency reduces generator liability and may result in cost savings through a close involvement in the management of waste services.
Of note, 3RCertified requires each material be tracked down the disposition change encouraging an open dialogue between generator and service provider to ensure both transparency and accountability.
Krista Friesen is Vice-President of Sustainability at the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), and leads CPIA’s efforts in post-use resource recovery, one of the association’s core areas of focus. In this role, she is responsible for the development and execution of CPIA’s advocacy and partnership programs to promote solutions that increase the recovery of plastics at their end of life and reduce marine litter.
Sera Kontarini is Director, Environmental Programs at Ivanhoé Cambridge, a global real estate leader in investment, development, leasing, asset management, and operations. In her role, Ms. Kontarini is Ivanhoé Cambridge’s first point of contact on all aspects of environmental risk management and due diligence. She works collaboratively with corporate investment and development teams on an international scale to ensure good governance and sound advice during property transactions, development, and remediation projects.
Paul van der Werf is a recognized waste diversion and organic waste management expert. For the last 23 years he has worked professionally in the waste diversion industry including facility management, working for environmental consultants, and finally operating his own consultancy. He has extensive municipal waste management data collection and analysis experience, and has completed more than 200 waste composition studies, including residential, ICI, C&D, MHSW and agricultural packaging wastes that has included more than 1,000 days of field sampling.