Proper waste management ensures you have a clean, safe, and healthy environment, home, and workplace. It also means you are doing your part to protect the environment. So, what are the up-and-coming waste management Toronto technologies and what is the future of garbage?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Reclaim
The recycling tagline for the past few years has been “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, but the new tagline is now “reduce, reuse, recycle, and reclaim.” Although the fourth “R” is the lowest in the hierarchy, it is increasingly important today. The trend is towards reducing landfill content through energy reclamation systems and organic waste conversion to compost.
Currently, Canada is only using 2% of energy potential from solid waste to produce energy. Some organisations like Zooshare and Enerkem are, however, hoping to change this. These organisations are converting waste to synthesis gas through an energy-reclaiming method called pyrolysis.
To do this, these organisations first have to treat the solid waste in the absence of, or in controlled amounts of oxygen. This gas is clean and low-cost and can be used as a fuel. It is being used in the manufacture of crude oil, ethanol, ammonia, methanol, and such fossil fuel replacements as green diesel fuel.
Bioplastics, Recyclable Plastics, & biodegradable Plastics
Regular plastics are made from petrochemicals and have polymers that are very difficult to dispose of (plastic can stay in a landfill for up to 500 years). Even when burnt, regular plastic gives off toxic fumes.
There is a trend towards the use of environmentally-friendly plastics. These are broadly categorized as bioplastics, eco/recyclable plastics, and biodegradable plastics. So, how do these green plastics work?
- Bioplastics are made from organic or biomass material derived from sources like cornstarch, vegetable fats, and microbes.
- Biodegradable plastics, like traditional plastics, are also made from petrochemicals, but they have additives that allow for an easy breakdown when exposed to moisture and oxygen.
- Recyclable plastics are made from petrochemicals but can be re-used.
The trend is towards the use of RFID-enabled “smart bins.” RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are the tags you see in such things as Canadian passports, medical equipment, and library books.
Some cities are now adopting “pay-as-you-throw” fee structures. With this structure, the waste management company can chart garbage weight throughout a route and it will give individual houses bills based on how much waste they dispose. This, obviously, will not work in high-density areas where communal dumpsters are used.
The aim of RFID-enabled is less about changing individual recycling rates and more about real-time tracking and data collection. Cities can now know who is recycling, where recycling is being done, and why some people are not recycling and they can then generate appropriate policies.
Re-use and Donation of old Electronics to Manage e-Waste
The Canadian government has come up with an e-Waste management strategic plan that calls for the re-use and donation of old electronics.
Most cities, Toronto included, have also come up with their own e-waste management programs. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) system, as an example, recycles 95% of all electronics material (by weight) and has the added benefit of destroying all data left in the electronics.
Using Toronto’s Electronic Recycling Program, transfer stations like that of Romano Disposal Services Inc. are shredding old electronics, separating the different materials, and then the materials can be shredded or melted and resold.