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August 01, 2006

Regulatory Amendments Proposed For Recycling, Alternative Fuels, New Waste Technologies

Ontario's MOE posted for comment a number of amendments to its waste management and disposal regime to encourage waste diversion. Most of the amendents will apply to General Waste Regulation 347 under the Environmental Protection Act.

Food Processing, Forestry, Agricultural, Woodwastes For Fuel

Waste biomass for organic fuel production: This will be exempt from waste regulation - if it is used as feedstock in production of ethanol or biodiesel. This feedstock includes organic matter from agriculture, food processing, rendering, forestry operations, pulp and paper effluents and woodwaste.

Woodwaste facilities burning more than 100 tonne per day will no longer be subject to stringent approval requiremets, including a mandatory hearing (so long as the woodwaste is burned as a fuel or fuel supplement). The Electricity Projects Regulation continues to apply.

Industrial Process Residues To Be Deregulated

Under the proposals some industrial process residues will no longer be regulated as wastes if they are recycled. These include printed circuit boards, emission control dust and metal bearing waste (swarf), all recycled by smelters; waste paint and coatings if recycled into paint; spent activated carbon (if reactivated); crumb rubber (recycled into products, not fuel).

Other industrial process residues that will be deregulated include wastes processed and used on the site where generated; waste glass used as subsurface aggregate; waste ashpalt pavement used as aggregate; and waste shingles used as aggregate or surfacing.

These amendments should clarify and expand the current provisions for recycling, considered by many to be complex and ambiguous. (Subsection 3(2)of the Regulation has been the source of litigation and legal opinions on "what is waste" for more than a decade.)

Downregulating Former "Subject" Wastes

Where stewardship systems are established, collection, storage and transfer systems will be exempt from some approval requirements, for batteries; mercury switches, thermostats etc.; waste electrical and electronic equipment and printed circuit boards; used vehicle servicing fluids.

Some health care and medical wastes will no longer be regulated as "subject waste", reducing the regulatory burden and cost of management and disposal. These include wastes from nursing homes, homes for the aged, special care homes and dental and medical offices.

Streamlined Approvals For New Waste Mangement Technologies

"Thermal degredation" will include gasification, pyrolysis, plasma arc and incineration. Proponents and developers of these technologies have been stymied for years, first by government policies discouraging incineration and energy-from-waste, and then by the difficulty of obtaining approval for pilot and demonstration projects.

MOE proposes to exempt pilot and demonstration projects (for non-hazardous wastes) from the Environmental Assessment Act process, and from mandatory EPA waste approval hearings. The projects will have a three year EA holiday so long as they process no more than 75 tonnes of municipal waste per day. An extension of two years is possible. Projects will require waste approvals under the EPA, and must meet air emission standards.

Where a proponent proposes to operate the facility permanently, it will be subject to the EAA process.

For links to the proposed amendments see EBR posting No. 027964ER.