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ENVI Committee Report

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Dr. Harold Albrecht, M.P.
Chair
Standing Committee on Environment
and Sustainable Development
House of Commons
Ottawa ON  K1A 0A6

Dear Dr. Albrecht:

On behalf of the Government of Canada (herein referred to as the Government), we would like to thank the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (the Committee) for its report entitled The Management of Municipal Solid Waste and Industrial Materials released February 2015.

We are pleased to receive the Committee’s recommendations concerning the management of municipal solid waste and industrial materials.  Our government agrees that waste management is an important issue in Canada.  While municipal and industrial waste management falls primarily within the jurisdiction of provincial, territorial and municipal governments, we agree that the Government of Canada has a role to play in supporting best practices and the uptake of waste related technologies, and therefore support all of the seven recommendations in the Committee’s report.

Considering the extensive role of provincial and territorial authorities in the area of waste management and their responsibility for approval, licensing and monitoring of waste management operations, the Government exercises a focused role by applying its authorities under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 , to control the international and interprovincial movement of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials, and the Fisheries Act for pollution prevention.  The federal government is also responsible for the control of waste management activities on federal lands, and has responsibilities related to waste management on Aboriginal lands and in Canada’s North through the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in the Northwest Territories, and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act in Nunavut.  In addition, it supports the advancement of best practices and innovation for management of wastes in Canada via a broad range of policies, programs, financial incentives and activities sponsored by several departments.

Our government is committed to continuing to work with provincial, territorial and municipal authorities, primarily through our role in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and also with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, to improve the management of waste in Canada.  We support the shared waste vision adopted by Canadian Ministers of the Environment to make Canada a world leader in waste management. 

I trust that the Committee will agree, as per the following report, that the Government is also actively supporting and encouraging the use of best practices and innovative technologies for improved waste management across the country.  The enclosed report outlines the broad range of policies, programs, financial incentives and activities in place to do this.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

Enclosure

The Government agrees with all seven recommendations made in the Committee report: The Management of Municipal Solid Waste and Industrial Materials.

Recommendation 1 – The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to work with all levels of government and stakeholders to ensure that best practices in waste management are shared and utilized, while respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction in this area.

In the past decade, provincial, territorial and municipal governments have championed waste management, and in particular waste diversion, in their respective jurisdictions with comprehensive policies, programs and regulations.  The federal government’s role on waste management complements the provincial and territorial roles.

The Minister of the Environment, along with her provincial and territorial counterparts, is a member of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).  This forum facilitates collaborative action to address various environmental issues including waste management.  The adoption of a Waste Vision and Action Plan by CCME Ministers in September 2014 will encourage continued collaboration on waste management issues among jurisdictions, the development of strategies and tools for minimizing waste generation and improving diversion in Canada, and the engagement of various relevant sectors.

Environment Canada focuses on promoting best practices in areas consistent with its responsibilities under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) and the Fisheries Act.  Through the Chemical Management Plan, Environment Canada develops measures to prevent releases of toxic substances under CEPA.  Examples of legislative and voluntary tools used to promote the use of best practices and mitigate the releases of toxic substances into the environment through waste include: the requirement for pollution prevention plans for mercury releases from dental amalgalm and mercury switches in end-of-life vehicles processed by steel mills, and the environmental performance agreements regarding Bisphenol A in paper recycling mill effluents.

Environment Canada also conducts research on waste management best practices to share with stakeholders across Canada and internationally.  Some of its most recent work includes: the Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Processing (2013); the Technical Document for Batch Waste Incineration (2010); and the Greenhouse Gases Calculator for Waste Management (2009).

The federal government also plays an important role in waste management data collection and management, as noted in the Committee’s report.  Statistics Canada’s Waste Management Industry Survey for business and government sectors is the only national and publicly available source of waste related data across the country.  It is a vital source for waste management stakeholders to understand spatial and temporal trends in the quantity and types of wastes generated and helps track progress in implementing waste management improvements over time. 

Finally, the Government has established funding incentives and programs that are available to provincial, territorial and municipal governments, public sector bodies, non-profit organizations, and private sector companies to help build infrastructure and encourage community engagement and activities related to waste management.  These funding programs, including the EcoAction Community Funding Program, Gas Tax Fund and Green Municipal Fund described in further detail in the following recommendations, provide opportunities for stakeholders to implement waste management best practices.

Recommendation 2 – The Committee recommends that the federal government encourage all Canadians to incorporate the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – into their daily routines.

Encouraging Canadians to practice the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – is best suited to local, regional and provincial/territorial jurisdictions as economic considerations, waste management priorities and programs vary across jurisdictions.  However, the importance of awareness and education is recognized in the CCME Waste Vision and Action Plan, which proposes to increase consumer, municipal and industry awareness of and support for waste reduction and recycling.  As a member of the CCME, the federal government will continue to participate in this joint work to address the 3Rs.

For its part, the Government leads by example by incorporating the 3Rs into its operational activities through the development of policies and programs, such as the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS).  Government departments and agencies are responsible for minimizing their environmental footprint, reducing waste generated, and procuring, operating and disposing of assets in a manner that supports sustainable objectives and protects environmental health through initiatives such as: Green Procurement; Green Information Technology; Green Office Practices; Sustainable Buildings; Fleet Management; and Waste Management.  As part of the Real Property Sustainable Framework, the government manages the collection, diversion and disposal of workplace and construction, renovation, and demolition waste in Crown-owned buildings in an environmentally responsible manner.  Through the Computer for Schools Program, led by Industry Canada, qualified electronic equipment in working condition can be sold for reuse or transferred to recognized charitable or non-profit organizations.  Electronic and electrical equipment that cannot be reused is recycled in an environmentally sound manner, and in accordance with provincial/territorial extended producer responsibility programs.  Departments report yearly on their performance via the FSDS.

The EcoAction Community Funding Program is a federal funding program that engages Canadians in environmental action projects in the broad categories of Clean Air, Clean Water, Nature and Climate Change.  In the past two years, this program has provided about $850,000 for 18 projects that engaged local communities in local waste reduction projects.  One specific example is a pilot project that removed and diverted hazardous substances and materials found in end-of-life vehicles located in two communities in Nunavut.

Recommendation 3 – The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to support the efforts of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to promote the use of waste management best practices, including through the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility and the Canada-wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging.

Environment Canada is an active participant in the waste-related work of the CCME and will continue to participate in collaborative work to achieve the shared Waste Vision of making Canada a world leader in waste management and support the CCME Action Plan on waste.  Environment Canada is leading foundational work on the construction, renovation and demolition waste sectors, which complements activities under the federal Chemicals Management Plan, and has developed tools to improve the diversion of food and organic wastes and wastes from the institutional and commercial sectors.  Environment Canada will also continue to support the CCME in the development of strategies to advance the diversion of wastes and recycling of resources in northern territories and remote areas.

The Government will continue to support CCME efforts related to the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (CAP-EPR), aimed at diverting products from landfills and increasing recycling.  Extended producer responsibility shifts the burden for diversion and recycling away from general taxpayers, and onto manufacturers, importers, retailers, and consumers of these products.  Environment Canada played an important role in the development of the CAP-EPR by sponsoring studies and consultations with governments and stakeholders, but recognized that provinces, territories and municipalities are best placed to implement the CAP-EPR.  Currently, all jurisdictions have mandatory and/or voluntary programs in place or under development for a wide range of products including packaging, printed materials, electronics and electrical equipment, used oil, and tires.

Recommendation 4 – The Committee recommends that the federal government encourage scalable solutions for waste management that will work throughout Canada.

Recognizing the diversity in provincial and territorial economies and local factors, the Government agrees with the Committee that a national ‘one-size fits all’ solution for waste management is neither feasible nor advantageous.  Thus, the federal government will continue to encourage community-focused solutions for waste management in Canada by providing guidance and funding.

Northern and remote communities have unique circumstances and face challenges in improving waste management such as the high cost of waste management infrastructure and transportation to recycling or specialized recovery facilities, limited access to recycling markets, geophysical conditions, and small and dispersed populations, among others.  The federal government recognizes the need to identify appropriate solutions to support the efforts of northern and remote communities.  Environment Canada is working with territorial governments and key stakeholders to share best practices for northern and remote areas, and, with their support, is developing technical guidance for northern waste management.

The Green Municipal Fund, endowed by the Government and administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, offers low-interest loan and grant financing for municipalities and private-sector partners to support sustainable infrastructure initiatives and investment.  The funds can be used for plans, studies and capital projects to respond to community needs across five sectors: waste (municipal solid waste and institutional and commercial waste), transportation, water, energy and brownfields.

A unique program in Canada is the First Nations Municipal Community Infrastructure Partnership Program (CIPP) which brings adjacent municipalities and First Nations communities together to build partnerships and address shared issues, particularly in regards to community infrastructure.  The CIPP is a joint program between Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  Through the program, First Nation communities and municipalities worked together to develop a toolkit that provides valuable information on cooperation, best practices, and model policies.  This toolkit provides guidelines for communities wishing to collaborate on solid waste collection, transfer stations or landfill sites.

Recommendation 5 – The Committee recommends that the federal government continue to support the commercialization of new technologies that will improve waste management.

The Government is committed to continuing to support economically viable, innovative and new technologies that will improve waste management.

Since establishing Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) in 2001, the federal government has provided the arm’s length, not-for-profit foundation with approximately $1.2 billion (including $325 million in Budget 2013), to the SD Tech FundTM and NextGen Biofuels FundTM, to support the development and demonstration of cleaner technologies, including those in the waste management sector.  One such technology is the project outlined by Enerkem Technologies in their testimony of June 10, 2014.  The consortium led by Enerkem has developed a process to convert municipal solid waste into a liquid biofuel (cellulosic ethanol) and related co-products.  Based in part on the success of their Edmonton demonstration facility, Enerkem recently signed two partnership deals to build similar plants in China and is pursuing similar opportunities around the world.

Another project supported by SDTC is the Autonomous Community Solutions-150 unit being demonstrated in Cambridge Bay, which is an integrated waste management, water treatment, energy storage and heating/cooling module to lower energy costs and address waste disposal and clean water challenges in Canada’s Northern and remote communities.

Recommendation 6 – The Committee recommends that the federal government consider potential incentives to support the adoption and implementation of new technologies in waste management.

The Government has been an important contributor to sustainable infrastructure development and has a range of financial incentives to support new technologies and infrastructure in waste management, including the Green Municipal Fund, Gas Tax Fund and the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund.

The Green Municipal Fund (GMF) is a $550 million permanent revolving fund created by the Government in a series of Budget decisions from 2000 to 2005.  For most municipalities, proposed waste diversion projects must demonstrate the potential to divert at least 60 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill to be eligible for funding.  For remote communities, an eligible project must target an incremental diversion rate of 15 per cent over the current baseline.  The Fund can provide financial support for eligible new technologies in waste management to be adopted and implemented to satisfy municipal needs.

In addition, the Government has been a stable source of funding to help build and revitalize public infrastructure including solid waste management.  Since 2006, over $214 million in direct federal funding from the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund, Green Infrastructure Fund, Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, and the Small Communities Fund of the New Building Canada Fund – Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component has been committed toward solid waste management infrastructure projects across Canada.  These funds have contributed to, for example, the development of recycling centres, advanced organics management facilities and modern environmentally sound solid waste management facilities in communities across Canada.  In addition, through the Gas Tax Fund, the federal government provides a legislated permanent source of federal infrastructure funding for municipalities.  Municipalities accessed an additional $290 million from this Fund for solid waste management projects from 2006 and 2013.  Going forward, the Government will continue to provide funding for important improvements to solid waste management infrastructure through the permanent and indexed Gas Tax Fund, and the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund.

Also, the income tax system encourages business investment in clean energy generation and energy efficiency equipment through an accelerated capital cost allowance (CCA) under CCA Class 43.2.  By allowing the cost of eligible assets to be deducted more quickly in calculating taxable income, this provision defers taxation.  Assets used in a variety of waste management activities can benefit from this provision, including certain equipment used in: generating electricity or heat from specified waste fuels; collecting landfill gas or digester gas; gasifying eligible waste; producing biogas through anaerobic digestion; and converting biomass into bio-oil.

In addition, eligible expenditures in respect of research and experimental development for new waste management technologies can benefit from the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program.  This program encourages Canadian businesses in all sectors to conduct R&D in Canada that will lead to new, improved, or technologically advanced products or processes.

Recommendation 7 – The Committee recommends that the government continue to encourage the use of cellulosic fuel.

The Government supports the recommendation to encourage the use of cellulosic biofuels in conventional fuels through research towards commercialization of new technologies for the production of cellulosic biofuels through a number of agencies and programs such as those outlined below. 

Canada supports a diversified mix of energy sources and recognizes that emerging renewable sources of energy can make an important contribution to that energy mix.  Since 2006, Canada has invested significantly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable environment through investments in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, and the production of cleaner fuels.

The Government has introduced a range of targeted programs that support research towards commercialization of advanced biofuels including:

  • The AgriInnovation Program under Growing Forward 2 with $468  million for industry-led agricultural research, allocates some of the funds for the development of crops and technologies for use in advanced biofuels and other industrial bioproducts;
  • SDTC’s NextGen Biofuels FundTM, created in 2007 to provide support for first-of-their-kind large scale demonstration facilities, is making $275 million available for advanced biofuels;
  • SDTC’s SD Tech FundTM, established in 2001, which has made $915 million available (including $325 million, announced as part of Economic Action Plan 2013) to support development and demonstration of technologies focusing on climate change, clean air, water and soil, including cellulosic biofuels;
  • The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council supports postsecondary research for topics including food, agriculture and biofuels through its suite of programs, including through the Networks of Centres of Excellence.  These large-scale, academic-led research networks bring together multi-disciplinary partners from academia, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations.  For example, BioFuelNet awarded approximately $25 million over 5 years to undertake research in advanced biofuels;
  • Genome Canada supports large-scale genomics research in key economic and strategic sectors, including agriculture, energy, and the environment.  Examples include two large-scale research projects specifically related to biofuels, for a total investment of $12.8 million;
  • Natural Resources Canada supports biofuels research through programs such as the Program of Energy Research and Development and the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative;
  • The National Research Council of Canada, several industry partners, and the Green Aviation Research and Development Network invested in an aviation biofuel initiative fund by awarding approximately $25 million over nine years through the federal government’s Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence program, created in 2007 and under the Government’s Clean Transportation Initiatives; and
  • The National Research Council ’s Algal Carbon Conversion Program will provide Canadian industry with a cost competitive, value generating solution to divert CO2 emissions into algal biomass that can then be processed into biofuels and other marketable products.  This initiative represents an opportunity to address the environmental, energy and economic issues associated with industrial emissions by exploring how CO2 emissions can be sustainably and profitably converted by algae into valuable products.

The Government believes these early investments in the advanced biofuels industry will enable more lucrative and diversified opportunities for biomass producers in the broader bioeconomy while leading to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Conclusion

As this report indicated, the Government will continue to complement the efforts of governments and other stakeholders to achieve the CCME adopted Waste Vision.  The Government will continue to encourage and actively support use of best practices and innovative technologies for improved waste management across the country.