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January, 2014:

Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels facility close to completion

Construction of the world’s first industrial scale municipal waste-to-biofuels facility is about to be completed.

The Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels Facility will be built, owned and operated by Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, a subsidiary of Enerkem. Using Enerkem’s proprietary technology, it will convert 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste into 38 million litres of biofuels annually and help Alberta reduce its GHG emissions. (Waste-based biofuels can reduce GHG emissions by more than 60 per cent when compared to gasoline.)

The City of Edmonton is currently diverting up to 60 per cent of residential waste from landfill through recycling and composting. The Waste-to-Biofuels Facility will enable the City to increase that diversion rate to 90 per cent.

The feedstock for producing biofuels is municipal solid waste that cannot be recycled or composted and has traditionally been sent to landfill. Using waste to produce cleaner burning fuels is a major leap forward in Edmonton’s commitment to alternatives to landfills and an integrated energy vision.

Initially the facility will produce methanol, followed by ethanol. The goal of producing methanol and subsequently ethanol has both environmental and economic benefits since it supports the increasing demand for biofuels.

The Waste-to-Biofuels Facility is part of a larger initiative totalling $131 million which includes a feedstock preparation facility and an Advanced Energy Research Facility.

Using waste as a resource for fuel will contribute to GHG reduction, reduce the need for food crops as feedstock for ethanol, and enable Alberta to lead the way in biofuel production.

Estimates of the amount of Hong Kong rubbish being recycled are plain rubbish

Overhaul of system is promised as officials admit estimates of the amount of waste the city recycles have been drastically overstated

Officials have admitted that estimates of the amount of Hong Kong waste being recycled – once put at over 50 per cent – have been drastically overstated.

They said yesterday that the figures were distorted by “external factors” beyond their control and the system for calculating them would be overhauled. The admission came as the Environmental Protection Department reported a slashed recycling rate of 39 per cent in 2012, down from 48 the previous year and a peak of 52 in 2010.

The department blamed fluctuations in the waste trade and irregularities in export declarations for the distortions. In an effort to improve its data collection, it will introduce extra measures, as recommended by a consultant commissioned to look into the problem. But the officials said they did not believe the distortion would affect policy-making or the achievement of targets set out in the waste-management blueprint released last year. World Green Organisation chief executive William Yu Yuen-ping said he was concerned about the “inflation of the recycling rate” and urged the department to set up an expert group to review the system.

Friends of the Earth said the public would be confused by the figures. According to the 2012 solid waste monitoring report released by the department yesterday, Hong Kong recycled just 2.16 million tonnes of waste, 860,000 tonnes less than 2011. About 60 per cent of the shortfall was due to a sharp drop in the trade in plastic waste.

Last year, a reported 320,000 tonnes of plastic waste was recycled, down from 840,000 tonnes in 2011 and 1.58 million tonnes in 2010. But the amount dumped in landfills largely remained steady at 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes during the same period. Since then, officials have used the disposal rate per person, rather than the recycling rate, as the key indicator to measure policy effectiveness.

In 2012, the former rate rose 3 per cent to 1.27kg. (CTA comment – what about the 50 million Mainlanders’ annual waste here – no doubt excluded?)

The department said the recycling rate had been calculated from waste export figures compiled by census and customs officers, and the booming trade in recent years might have inflated the figure. It also admitted that the formula could not accurately reflect local recycling efforts since it also included waste imported and then exported after processing.

“We believe the 2012 figure is closer to the reality of how the city fared in recycling after a slump in the trade,” said an official, speaking anonymously.

Officials refused to be drawn on whether the admission showed that the recycling rate, used by former environment chiefs to highlight the city’s progress in dealing with its waste problem, had little value.

“The public still have expectations for this figure and we will try to give the best estimate,” said an official, adding that the formula was widely adopted elsewhere in the world.

Greeners’ Action executive director Angus Ho Hon-wai said the government should set up a registration system for recyclers in order to get first-hand recycling data. Lau Yiu-shing, a local waste recycler, admitted some operators might have wrongly reported export figures to suit their needs. But the scope of doing so had shrunk as mainland customs stepped up checks in recent years.

Source URL (modified on Jan 29th 2014, 10:15am):

CNW: PyroGenesis signs $1.5M Agreement with Leading Appliance Recycler; 2014 Backlog now Exceeds 2013 Revenues by more than 50%

from the Canada Newswire:

PyroGenesis Canada Inc. today announced that it has signed an agreement with Canada’s leading end-of-life refrigerator and freezer recycler (“Client”) to provide them with additional equipment and services (including onsite optimization) for PyroGenesis’ patented SPARC technology. As part of this agreement, the Client will commercialize the SPARC technology on an exclusive basis within Canada.  This agreement, totalling up to $1.5M, includes several options for follow-on service contracts, all of which are expected to be executed within 2014.

PyroGenesis’ environmentally friendly and cost-effective Steam Plasma Arc (SPARC) Destruction System allows clients to safely destroy ozone-depleting substances (ODS) which can generate as much as 10,000 times more Green House Gases when compared to CO2 emissions. “The successful introduction of this technology within Canada is the first step to expanding the commercialization of PyroGenesis’ patented SPARC technology on an international scale”, said Gillian Holcroft, Executive Vice President, Strategic Alliances for PyroGenesis.

As previously reported, PyroGenesis’ SPARC technology achieved an unprecedented 10x greater destruction efficiency as compared to current requirements. Conservative estimates show that there are at least 25,000 tons per year of ODS that require destruction. This represents over $100 million of business potential to PyroGenesis with no apparent competition at these destruction efficiencies.

“Our Client intends to incorporate PyroGenesis’ SPARC technology into its existing appliance recycling business. As part of this Agreement, PyroGenesis will also be the exclusive supplier of after-sales service and support. The operation of PyroGenesis’ patented SPARC technology at the Client’s new industrial facility will demonstrate to the world the environmental and economic benefits of safe and effective ODS destruction”, said Gillian Holcroft, Executive Vice President, Strategic Alliances for PyroGenesis.

“With this agreement in place, and with only one week into the New Year, PyroGenesis’ 2014 backlog already exceeds its 2013 revenues by more than 50% while maintaining our recently improved gross margins, as reflected in our most recent Q3  financial results and MD&A”, said P. Peter Pascali, President and Chief Executive Officer of PyroGenesis. “Our continued success with traditional market sectors, combined with our penetration into key markets such as Oil & Gas and Mining & Metallurgy, is yielding significant results, and we expect this trend to continue into the foreseeable future.”

7 Jan 2014

edieWaste: Private equity firm backs Impetus Waste Management MBO

by Liz Gyekye of edieWaste:

Private equity specialist Agilitas has announced that it has invested in the management buyout of Impetus Waste Management.

Agilitas has not disclosed the amount it invested in the MBO.

Impetus was founded in 2003 and is based in Stockton-on-Tees. It specialises in the disposal of commercial, domestic and hazardous waste. It handles more than 500,000 tonnes of commercial, industrial and municipal waste annually. The company has waste transfer stations in Wallsend and Washington, and landfill sites in Cowpen Bewley and Teesport.

As part of the Impetus’ strategy for diversion away from landfills, the company has recently signed a 20-year agreement to supply waste to renewable energy specialist Air Products.

Air Products will construct and operate an advanced gasification energy-from-waste plant in Teeside. Impetus will build a new waste transfer station adjacent to the Air Products plant, which will be capable of processing 600,000 tonnes of waste per annum.

The plant is expected to produce electricity to power up to 50,000 homes. Longer term, this plant would have the potential to generate a renewable source of hydrogen for commercial use, for example to fuel public transport. The facility is expected to enter commercial operation at some point this year.

Commenting on the announcement, Impetus managing director Richard Lord said: “With landfill sites in the north east likely to be full by the end of the decade, it is vital to find a new approach and I am delighted to be working with Agilitas in the development of a new defensible green business.”

Agilitas founding partner Martin Calderbank added: “Impetus is an organisation at the crossroads of transformational change and we see huge opportunities in helping the management team develop their business in waste to energy.”

Torbjorn Midsem, partner at Agilitas and joining Martin Calderbank on the Board of Impetus, added: “This investment enables Impetus to seize opportunities created by two major trends: the need for new solutions for waste, and the need for new sources of energy.”

27 Jan 2014

Burnabynow: Incinerator creates toxic mess for region

from Hildegard Bechler of New Westminster, published on Burnabynow:

An incinerator fouls not only our airshed, with thousands of unknown toxins and a ton of greenhouse gases for every ton burned.  It fouls our rivers, lakes, and groundwater.  Toxic ash landfills foul the soil (25 per cent of our waste – by weight, 10 per cent by volume – remains as toxic ash).  Incineration fouls our health.  Only the unknowable toxic synergies are “unpredictable”; the other impacts are a sure thing.

The Fraser Valley Regional District is only one of many local governments opposing the incinerator: one-third of Metro Vancouver directors voted against it.  Native Nations, community organizations and hundreds of individuals in both regions opposed it.

An incinerator would burn our kids’ resources, waste their fossil fuels, for 50 years.  Long before 2070, the Earth’s 10 billion people will be desperate for resources. Products that are difficult to recycle will be a folly of the past.  Like the costly destruction systems Metro Vancouver is now building, which will be shut down – wasted.  Will our grandchildren have to mine landfills, fish the Pacific gyre?

Metro’s own waste plan (financial implications, page 32) points out that diverting resources from the waste stream has economic benefits.

“There is considerable economic activity that takes place in the process of recycling the collected materials into new goods as an alternative to virgin feed stocks.  Although difficult to estimate, the economy associated with the remanufacturing of recycled materials into new products exceeds the costs for collection, transportation and processing.  Net expenditures associated with disposal more closely reflect the entire disposal economy since there is little economic activity that occurs following disposal.”

So why choose incineration?  Metro Vancouver’s plan states that we can’t recycle more than 80 per cent unless distant markets remain stable; that they are looking for contingencies.  Asian markets fail when the price of oil gets too high, as happened in 2008 when we had to pay to burn or bury our recycled materials.

What contingency could there be besides local remanufacture?  According to Metro Vancouver’s director of policy and planning for waste management in 2011, “The contingency is waste-to-energy”.  (Global incinerator corporations have deep pockets, plenty lobbyists.) This raises the question: what happens to the 80 per cent we’ll be recycling when markets fail?

It pays Asian corporations to buy, ship and remanufacture our recovered resources and ship new products back.  These are cheaper not only because of low wages and poor to no environmental protection.  These industries avoid the cost of extracting and refining virgin resources.

Instead of wasting billions of our tax dollars on massive systems for burning, on garbage transport and ash landfills, we need to use public money to develop diversion and remanufacturing capacity today: to build industries, business, jobs: local economic renewal, for public and private profit.

Metro Vancouver taxpayers can own a paper recycling plant and other remanufacturing industries, the way we own the incinerator.  We can partner with private industry and municipalities as we do with the Cache Creek landfill.  We can work with private recycling industries and publicly owned facilities too, to meet everyone’s needs for resources, as we already do with the various waste management companies.

Each municipality can build a bottle washing plant; facilities to convert textiles to rags and paper, construction waste to lumber, firewood and wood chips, demolition waste to product recovery and building deconstruction.  Reuse and repair community centres for appliances, furniture, bikes, can include a free store to make items available to people who can’t afford even thrift stores, taking the social justice dimension of waste into account.

Diversion options are virtually unlimited.  Most such developments are profitable industries and businesses.  Some cost the region (as does incineration) but are profitable in the long run because they conserve resources and share our wealth-ethical imperatives.    All are better outcomes for our taxes than toxic ash and destruction of our life support ecosystems.

This necessary reconfiguration of our industrial consumer society is happening all over the world.  It can happen here.   We can profit today by protecting our children’s future.

9 Jan 2014

FOTE: Dirty Truths – Incineration and Climate Change

Tackling climate change is the major environmental challenge of our times. Friends of the Earth believes that all government policies should be examined for their climate change impacts, from transport policy to waste policy.

At the same time, other environmental challenges must not be ignored – climate change may be the most immediate environmental crisis, but we should not ignore the possibility of others following on from it. For example, in the case of waste policy, it is vital that we also focus on maximising resource efficiency and on minimising pollution.

Waste policy has important climate change impacts, from, at one end, the emission savings by waste prevention or from recycling, to at the other end, the problem of methane emissions from landfill.

Waste prevention is the most beneficial option from a climate point of view, followed by reuse and recycling; landfill and incineration are worse options.

The UK Government is currently reviewing England’s waste policy, and is proposing to process 25% through energy from waste.

But what is energy from waste? In reality this catch-all term refers to a wide range of technologies, with a whole range of impacts on climate change. In order to better understand the impacts of these technologies, Friends of the Earth commissioned Eunomia Research and Consulting Ltd to examine the climate impacts of the different options.

In addition, in order to improve understanding of the climate impacts of different methods of dealing with residual waste (what is left after reuse, recycling and composting), we also asked Eunomia to examine this complex issue.

This summary report takes the results of the Eunomia research and puts them in context. The full report, A changing climate for energy from waste? is available at Friends of the Earth’s web site.

May 2006

resource: Incinerator correspondence to be made public

by Alex Blake, for resource:

Environment Agency (EA) concerns over the Moorwell incinerator on the Isles of Scilly will become available to the public thanks to a Freedom of Information request.

The request, submitted by Radio Scilly, will see around 400 pages of emails and letters being released. The material details correspondence between the EA and the Chief Technical Officer of the Council of the Isles of Scilly between June 2010 and earlier this year.

Councillor Steve Sims, Chairman of the General Purpose Committee on the isles, stated that the documents would be available to view in the Council’s One-Stop Shop, but that making copies would not be permitted.

It has since been reported that during the sampling periods, levels of dioxins (which the World Health Organization describes as ‘highly toxic’) at the site reached 65 times the permitted levels.

However, the Council took steps to reassure the public that there was ‘no clear risk to human health’ posed by the dioxins.

Andy Street from consultants SLR also commented: “Regarding public health, it is true that the emissions were high on occasion from this incinerator, which was first commissioned in the 1970’s. Initial assessment of the impact of emissions to air was undertaken in 2009 under the instruction of the Environment Agency, which in turn consulted with the Food Standards Agency.

“These investigations indicated that, even with monitored emissions at their highest, there was no clear risk to human health, because of the small scale of the plant and low volume of waste incinerated.”

EA officials brought in consultants SLR to consult with the council and the agency on the site, and according to the group, found that the incinerator was being overloaded and was burning too much unsorted, off-island plastic waste. However, dioxin levels have now reportedly returned to within ‘safe’ limits.

Incineration problems not the first

This is not the first time incineration plants have been in the news over environmental and health concerns. Less than one month ago, Scotgen (Dumfries) Ltd saw its permit revoked for its Dargavel incinerator after the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) declared it had failed ‘to comply with the requirements of [its] permit’.

The revocation notice, served on 23 August, cited the following permit breaches:

  • persistent non-compliance with the requirements of the permit;
  • failure to comply with an enforcement notice;
  • failure to maintain financial provision and resources to comply with the requirements of the permit;
  • failure to recover energy with a high level of efficiency.

According to Ian Conroy, Technical Support Manager in the South West for SEPA: “Since the plant come [sic] into operation we have provided support and assistance to Scotgen (Dumfries) Limited including affording them considerable time and opportunity to demonstrate that this facility can meet the Best Available Techniques, and the specific requirements of European Directives designed to protect the environment. Unfortunately despite this, they have not done so.”

The Dargavel site has suffered a litany of problems. In 18 July 2013 a fire broke out at the site, requiring 30 firefighters to bring it under control. Scotgen is also under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive following a “pipe burst” in August, which damaged nearby pipework and a roof.

Incineration could become ‘obsolete’

In relation to these latest incidents, Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of United Kingdom Without Incineration (UKWIN), stated his belief that incinerators would become ‘obsolete’: “I understand that many of the problems at the facility arose from changes in feedstock composition and difficulties in obtaining combustible material.

“These are issues that I expect will become more prevalent across the UK in the coming years as increases in recycling, waste minimisation, and separate collection of food waste render residual waste treatment unnecessary and show incineration to be obsolete.”

Read more about incineration and the full statement regarding the Moorwell site from the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

11 Sep 2013

IPS: Dioxin Levels Soar on Icelandic Farms (2011)

by Lowana Veal, for the Inter Press Service:

In the northwestern Icelandic town of Isafjordur, milk is causing pandemonium. A local milk marketing board recently tested one farm’s milk for the presence of harmful chemicals. Dioxin, and dioxin-like compounds, were found to be present in amounts higher than the recommended maximum levels, threatening the future of local farmers, and angering residents.

Dioxins are highly toxic compounds produced as a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, notably herbicide production and paper bleaching. They are a serious and persistent environmental pollutant.

The milk that was tested came from a farm called Efri-Engidalur, located in a valley only 1.5 kilometres from a waste-burning incinerator that was closed by the authorities last year due to consistently high levels of pollutants.

“Usually, measurements are done by the authorities, but we decided to test for dioxin because we were concerned about the incinerator,” said Einar Sigurdsson, of MS Iceland Dairies.

As a result of the findings, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (IFVA) decided to test samples of milk, meat, and hay from several farms in the surrounding area.

The findings revealed increased levels of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds in the majority of the samples. Dioxin-like compounds are polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as dioxin-like PCBs, which behave like dioxin, so are generally classified with it in terms of toxicity.


Standard: Democrats hope for $5b recycling fund

from Qi Luo of the Standard:

The Democratic Party is hoping that today’s policy address will include the setting up of a HK$5 billion fund to help promote recycling.

Democratic lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said 60 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by the party recently supported such a move.

“We want competition in the recycling industry, not monopoly,” he added. “The number of recycling agents should not be limited.”

Wu said that sections of the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulation needed to be amended along with arrangements covering contractors for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to allow cleaners to collect materials that can be recycled.

The survey also showed that 61 percent of 859 respondents supported waste charges being levied according to volume.

“We believe this is the best way to push residents to change their habits,” Wu said.

He went on to urge officials to look at charging individual flats for garbage rather than a building.

Backing that plea, Wu said 58 percent of respondents said charging for waste would make them more active in recycling. And nearly 60 percent said a reward for recycling would help.

Another survey by the party showed 53 percent of public housing residents back charges for waste.

15 Jan 2014

grist: San Francisco finds new life for dead threads

by Darby Minow Smith on Grist Magazine:

Style meccas, tilt your ears: San Francisco’s moving sustainability forward along with their fashion. On Wednesday, Mayor Ed Lee announced the debut of a city-wide textile recycling initiative.

San Franciscans trash 4,500 pounds of clothing an hour, according to the SF Environment Department. To put a dent in that number, more than 160 textile recycling bins were rolled out at noon in schools, stores, and libraries around the city.

The bins, and today’s announcement, are the first step in what will be a learning process for both San Francisco and the global clothing recycler they’re working with, I:CO.

To understand why textile recycling is more complicated than the standard plastic #2, cardboard, and glass, simply look down. How many different materials are you wearing? What are the blends? And are your duds in good enough shape that another person would happily wear them? The sorters at I:CO facilities use 400 criteria to determine where a particular piece of clothing is headed to next.

Anywhere from 95 to 99 percent of textiles can be reused or recycled, according to I:CO Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Gilbert. About half of the clothing that comes to I:CO is rewearable and sold on the secondhand market. The rest can be broken down and turned into car upholstery, carpet padding, insulation, and stuffing. Even the infamously hard-to-recycle Lycra can be added in small batches to the shredder in mixed loads.