Let me start off by saying thank you for the opportunity to come and address the standing committee. My name is Dale Harley and I am the general manager of Orgaworld Canada—not just Ottawa but the whole shooting match we have here.
We're a Netherlands-based company that uses innovative technologies to process organic waste into high-quality compost that is sold to the agricultural community to help rehabilitate soil and replace the need for chemical fertilizers. We are truly closing the loop when it comes to waste management.
Orgaworld currently operates two plants in Ontario, one in London and one in Ottawa, that are permitted to process up to 300,000 tonnes of source-separated organics per year. We are Ontario's single largest processor of SSO. We are in the process of expanding across Canada and we hope to have two new plants operating, in B.C. and Alberta, in the near future.
According to the 2013 report by the Conference Board of Canada, Canada ranked lowest internationally of 17 OECD countries for our record on waste management. Nationally the total amount of residential and non-residential non-hazardous waste sent for disposal in 2010 was a whopping 25 million tonnes.
For the purpose of this presentation, I'd like to focus on the management of organics as opposed to talking about all waste streams.
According to a 2006 Natural Resources Canada report, there were 6.7 million tonnes of organic waste produced in Canada, second only to paper. That was back in 2006. Since that time, it's my understanding, organics now represent the largest single stream of waste coming into the waste stream system.
Across Canada there are significant variances among provinces as to how they deal with this organic waste. Ontario and Quebec have general non-mandatory goals for diverting materials from landfills, with a net goal of approximately 60% diversion. One of the primary mechanisms used to achieve this has been the diversion of organics from the municipal sector. But the overall diversion goals have not been achieved, and the industrial, commercial and institutional sector continues to generate significant quantities of organics that are landfilled. Various municipalities, such as the City of Toronto, have gone above that 60% goal and self-imposed a target of 70% diversion.
Nova Scotia has had an organics ban for almost 20 years now and is really a leader in Canada in this area. Other maritime provinces are beginning to impose similar regulations, and British Columbia is now moving towards an organics ban as well. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have fledgling regulatory systems in place, while Alberta's promotion of organics diversion is driven by the specified gas emitters regulation, which seeks to reduce greenhouse emissions through a cap-and-trade system. In this respect, a number of organic diversion projects have been developed to create offset credits in the marketplace.
By comparison, the European Union has made significant progress in diverting organics from their landfills. In 1999 the EU adopted a landfill directive that called for a reduction of organics to 35% of their 1995 tonnes by either 2016 or 2020. In the U.K. they instituted a landfill tax that was to rise to $86 a tonne by 2011, and in fact that tax today stands at $144 per tonne. In Germany they introduced a disposal restriction of less than 3% organics.
What Canada needs is a national ban on organics going into landfills. This ban would not only be good for the environment but would also be good for the economy and the reduction of greenhouse gases.
One of the strongest points in favour of the zero-waste concept is the impact on job creation. According to a European Commission study, 400,000 jobs could be created in Europe if they implemented the current EU waste policies. The environment commissioner, Janez Potocnik, said:
We need to see waste as a resource—and to bury that resource in the ground is worse than short-sighted. This report shows that waste management and recycling can make a big contribution to economic growth and job creation.
That report actually went on to find that four jobs could be created for every 10,000 tonnes per year of compost that was produced.
Looking at it from a greenhouse gas perspective, waste management is the fourth-largest contributor to greenhouse gases. ln terms of greenhouse gases, there are a number of benefits to organic diversion.
First of all, organics in landfills create methane, which is actually 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. While many landfills attempt to collect and destroy this methane gas before emission, it's not possible to collect it all. Generally, landfills successfully recover only about half of all the methane they produce. The end result is all of that entering our atmosphere.
Next, landfills are generally further away from municipal hubs than are localized organics processing facilities or handling facilities. Generally, the trucking and diesel fuel consumption associated with hauling to the landfill is greater than diverting to nearer organics facilities.
Also, organics that enter a landfill provide no nutrient value. Organics that are converted into compost, at least at Orgaworld, can be used to displace petroleum-based fertilizers, which is a significant greenhouse gas reduction strategy.
The U.S. EPA estimates that diverted food waste can actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.42 tonnes equivalent of carbon dioxide per imperial ton of food. For California alone, looking at their food waste bulk, the total potential emission reduction is nearly six million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Given that a typical vehicle emits 4.7 tonnes of CO2 per year, the food waste processing in California could thus potentially reduce the equivalent of 1.28 million cars' worth of greenhouse gas emissions. We would expect the same here in Canada, given our equivalent population.
ln closing, I'd like to thank the standing committee for the opportunity to speak on this important topic. There is definitely an opportunity for the federal government to take a leadership role in waste management and the banning of organics from landfill sites. Such a ban would be good for the economy and for reducing greenhouse gases.
When appropriate, I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have. Thank you.