What is a Circular Economy?

http://bioplasticfeedstockalliance.org/bioplastics/

As the world population continues to grow, the world’s creation of waste (especially plastics) follows suit. As is common knowledge, plastics don’t decompose very quickly; some may even take tens of thousands of years. This poses a problem in terms of sheer volume: there is simply too much plastic and other waste products to deal with. Unfortunately, most plastics don’t make it to landfills or recycling plants and end up in the ocean or natural environment instead. In the Pacific, there are islands of floating plastics so large they can be clearly seen from space.

Landfills are overflowing and the ocean is being severely affected. Many proposed solutions revolve around reducing consumption in general – which is absolutely a necessity, but it is something that is difficult to incentivize and even more difficult to legislate.  Lowering consumption is something that will likely happen overtime, but it probably isn’t going to happen fast enough to mitigate environmental damage in the meantime. So how do we manage all of this waste? One school of thought is to focus on the economic viability of reusing material. Rather than synthesizing new plastics or extracting new metals, manufacturers use recycled materials as their primary inputs. The idea is to lower waste overtime due to a widespread systematic recycling of materials that goes far beyond a given city’s recycling program. This is called a “Circular Economy” due to the circular flow of materials. The intent is to create a strong incentive to make change happen faster by making reuse economically attractive.

The concept of Economies of Scale refers to the lower costs of manufacturing the larger the scale of the operation. This same principle drives Circular Economics – that if reuse and re-fabrication happen on a wide enough scale, it becomes very economical. It makes intuitive sense that turning valueless garbage back into saleable products could be cheaper than extracting raw materials; the problem is that there is a lack of infrastructure to make the reuse economical. This is changing rapidly and many companies are taking advantage of the inexpensive material that comes from making use of waste.

If you or your business are interested in taking advantage of circular economics, or are looking to learn more take a look at Ontario Waste Management Association’s (OWMA) website or check out #circulareconomy on Twitter. If you are looking to improve your businesses waste management, recycling, or ensure compliance with Ontario’s regulations give us a call or check out our website here.

Soils Management – How it Affects your Project

Excess Soils Storage

Often unnoticed, overlooked and presumed innocuous soils are actually surprisingly important. Soils may have a substantial impact on your project; be it construction, remediation or improvement of existing property. As such it is important to understand the laws, regulations and nuances of managing excess soils or bringing soils to a site for use.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has a series of best practices for the management of excess soils generated by construction projects which can be found here. The MOECC suggests wherever possible to reuse soils excavated at the site – for instance as landscaping, berms, or for re-grading – to minimize the amount of waste. If not reused at the site of excavation or another commercial fill site, excess soils are considered waste products and are subject to Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) terms and conditions for disposal. This of course may be costly and logistically difficult if there are large volumes of soil to be disposed. Re-use or sale of excess soil is far more beneficial to your project, however the quality of the soil must be assessed prior to removal.

If your project is on the other side – in that it requires soils for re-grading, a commercial fill etc. – it is most likely worth seeking to use excess soils from a construction project’s excavation. This avoids the higher costs of purchasing soils from natural or virgin sources and transporting it potentially much longer distances and mitigating the associated environmental impacts.

Regardless of whether you intend to re-use, export or import soils for your project, the MOECC requires that the soils are analyzed and characterized by a Qualified Person – a professional geoscientist or professional engineer.  Cambium is an excess soils leader with many MOECC certified Qualified Persons that would be happy to assist you. See here for more information and please give us a call at 866-217-7900 if you have any questions.

Canada Day – the 150th Anniversary!

Photo Credit: Forester 401

What’s going on in Peterborough

Peterborough will be celebrating Canada’s 150th this weekend, and there are lots of things to do! If you’re in the city the Canada Day Parade will be happening on the 1st at 12:00 noon starting at Murray Street and moving down George Street to Morrow Park. The pre-parade ceremonies and entertainment begin at City hall around 9:00am and include a free pancake breakfast (thanks to the East City Lions Club)! In the evening starting at 8:00pm Peterborough’s Mucisfest is happy to present the three-time Juno award winner Kim Mitchell performing live at Del Crary park! Better yet, thanks to local sponsorship (including us here at Cambium) the concert is totally free!

Beyond Peterborough

This year being the big 150th anniversary, there is lots going on in the rest of the country as well. For example: with the free Discovery Pass, all Federal parks are free this summer, you can get your Discovery Pass here. Remember though provincial parks are separate. In Ontario, if you want to see the beautiful and historic Trent-Severn waterway, the locks are free to travel through this summer. This is particularly exciting for us here at Cambium as we have been working hard on several projects upgrading and repairing locks on the Trent-Severn – readying them for the extra traffic they will see this summer!

All of us here at Cambium are proud Canadians. We take great pride in our work maintaining Canada’s natural environment through our environmental work; ensuring the preservation of fragile ecosystems, the protection of threatened species and the safety of our water supply. We are also proud to contribute to Canada’s infrastructure and economy through our inspection and geotechnical services; ensuring the safety and quality of our countries’ built environment. Lastly we are proud of our contributions to Canadian society through our extensive charitable efforts – with a commitment to donating  1% of our yearly gross margins, regardless of whether we actually turned a profit or not.

Join us in celebrating our wonderful nation’s 150th, and reflect on how lucky we are to live in this beautiful country of ours!

Incoming Changes to the Aggregate & Mining Industries

On May 10th Bill 39 received Royal Assent and became law in the Province of Ontario, becoming: “the Aggregate Resources (ARA) and Mining Modernization Act”. The act was designed to increase growth and competition in the mining and aggregate industries while also ensuring environmental oversight, protections and accountability.

For aggregates this means that certain aggregate extraction activities will no longer require a permit or license, and it will become substantially easier to acquire and amend an existing permit or license. There will also be changes to various fee structures and licensing. For example, the Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry will have the ability to waive certain license and permit fees based on a variety of circumstances outlined in the Act. The Act also includes new means of enforcement, including larger daily and maximum fines, a system for reporting regulatory transgressions and new inspection abilities. The act also provides powers to the Minister to make new regulations requiring a licensee or permit holder to prepare various reports on records required by the act and / or direct them to prepare and submit various studies and reports related to the operation of a pit or quarry.

The Mining Act modernization component was more extensive than changes to the ARA; of particular significance was the creation of a new system that allows businesses and individuals to register mining claims through an online system. This system will provide detailed information and mapping, create an easier way to register claims and keep track of them, and ensure accuracy in the borders of claimed areas. This new system is designed to increase Ontario’s competitiveness and responsiveness in the mining industry while modernizing its administration. It is currently unclear as to when the new mining claim system will come into effect, The Ministry provides a Mining Act Awareness Program (MAAP) for anyone interested in the changes or becoming a Prospector, click here for more details.

If you are interested in the specifics of the Act, you can read an overview here. If you would like to see what the future may bring regarding mining and aggregates, the province has an outline of its intentions for mining modernization here – as well as more specific information regarding potential changes and how they will be implemented.

Sweet Tunes and Fast Dragons – what’s going on in Peterborough this summer?

Dragon Races

Grab some friends & paddles and gear up for Peterborough’s annual Dragon Boat Festival! Happening on Saturday June 10 at Del Crary Park, the dragons are back on the water to compete in this fast-paced race to support breast cancer research, screening and diagnosis (right here in Peterborough!). So far there are already 67 teams ready to compete; if you, your workplace or your friends are looking to join in on the fun check out the website here for more details. You will need a team of up to 20 to race, including a drummer and someone to steer. Come out and support a great cause! Cambium’s boat is ready to race: we’ll see you at the finish line!

Music & More

Perhaps you prefer a slower pace and taking it easy this summer? Well the Peterborough Mucisfest may be just the place for you! Cambium is a proud sponsor of this fantastic summer event, with live music at Del Crary Park every weekend starting in July. With tons of great artists on stage there is something for everyone – and it will be particularly exciting this year in honour of Canada’s 150th! Thanks to the many local sponsors (of whom we are proud to be a part of) all concerts are 100% free! So walk on down to the park and check out some fantastic Canadian artists at you leisure.

Peterborough and the Kawarthas are a vibrant place to be this summer with countless local events, farmer’s markets, outdoor activities, and more – there are sites to see and places to be! If you want to know what else there is to do this summer check out the Kawarthas’ website which has some of the best local must-see and must-try locations. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on summer fun in Peterborough!

Aggregate Industry – Protection of Threatened Bank Swallow

Bank Swallow nesting ground
Photo Credit: Tianna Burke

Managing the protection of threatened Bank Swallows

Ontario’s Bank Swallows are small nesting birds that historically make their homes in the sides of eroding cliffs, banks and hills.  Included on the Ontario Species at Risk list, they are considered threatened for a number of reason, but primarily due to habitat loss.  Despite the loss of their natural nesting grounds, Bank Swallows have adapted fairly well to human activity and often make nesting colonies at aggregate sites, quarries and open-pit mines.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) recently published a Best Management Practices – (BMP) resource for use by the aggregate industry. This document is intended for “the Protection, Creation and Maintenance of Bank Swallow Habitat in Ontario” and provides a set of useful guidelines. These guidelines are not mandatory, but they provide useful tools and information that may help user to comply with federal and provincial legislation (such as the Endangered Species Act).

For example, Bank Swallows receive habitat protection under the Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to disturb their nesting sites during the breeding season without regulatory exemption. The BMP document by the MNRF details useful information that can help aggregate site operators to know how to avoid disturbing the nesting sites, what time of year they create their nests, and when it is safe to operate at previous nesting sites.

The MNRF also details methods to deter Bank Swallows from nesting in a given area to avoid having a logistical problem on the hands of aggregate site operators. Some suggestions include ensuring aggregate stockpiles have no vertical slopes, as vertical slopes can be inhabited as quickly as overnight during breeding season (and once they are, they are federally protected and cannot be disturbed).

The MNRF requires businesses to have experts assess potential nesting grounds and conduct Species at Risk (SAR) assessments should Bank Swallows appear at a site, or if a site operator needs regulatory approval for an activity.  Cambium’s biology team has a wide range of experience dealing with threatened and endangered species in Ontario – give us a call or send us an email to get assistance with your situation.

Cambium Quadruples CCIL Asphalt Certified Lab Technicians

Lab TestingCambium congratulates its Materials Testing Laboratory team on their recent CCIL Asphalt Certifications. Their accomplishment increases the number of our staff  with Asphalt Certifications (by four times) from the Canadian Counsel of Independent Laboratories (CCIL).

The CCIL Laboratory Technician Certification is a complement to the Asphalt Laboratory Certification, of which Cambium currently holds Asphalt Mix Compliance – Marshall & Superpave Methods (Type B), Solvent Extraction, and Asphalt Mix Design – Marshall Method (Type A). The expertise and skills of our materials testing team further enhances Cambium’s testing services to meet the ever-increasing demand for quality assurance and quality control relating to asphalt pavements and aggregate. Cambium is dedicated to the providing training and development opportunities for our staff to support their career advancement. We recognize the contributions of each employee towards the development and success of our company.

For more information on our construction testing and inspection services, click here.

Redside Dace now Listed as Endangered in Canada – What Does it Mean for You?

Photo Credit: K. Schmidt

Redside Dace are small freshwater fish that live in shallow streams and slow moving water. They range across the Northern United States and Southern Canada with populations concentrated around the GTA. They were added to the Species at Risk Act in 2009 due to diminishing populations from habitat loss and degradation. Redside Dace require gravel-bottomed waters with overhanging vegetation, much of which has been impacted by agricultural developments as well as diversion of streams and rivers. As of May 3rd, Redside Dace are federally listed as endangered in Canada affording them (and their habitats) substantial protections.

So what does this mean for you? The Provincial and Federal governments provide significant protections for species listed as threatened, endangered or extirpated which may affect any activity that will cause harm to the listed species or its habitat. When a species is listed, it is illegal to:

  • Kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a listed species;
  • Possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a listed species, or any part or derivative of a listed species; and
  • Damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a listed species.

This means that any activity that might affect Redside Dace’s habitat (such as storm water management systems, changing the course of a waterway, excessive sediment or removal of vegetation that might be associated with land development) is illegal without approval.  According to O. Reg. 242/08:

A person who wishes to carry out an activity [that affects Redside Dace habitat] shall comply with the following conditions:

Before beginning any part of the activity that is likely to kill, harm or harass Redside Dace or damage or destroy the habitat of Redside Dace,

i. The person must prepare a mitigation report in accordance with subsection (5),

ii. The person must submit the mitigation report to the district manager of the Ministry, and

iii. The district manager must approve the mitigation report, subject to subsection (6), and the person must have received written notice of the approval.

If you or your company are looking to do work that may affect endangered Redside Dace (or any other listed species) and require a mitigation report, or simply are unsure if your activity may affect an endangered species – give Cambium’s biology team a call, they will be happy to assist you! http://cambium-inc.com/biological-impact-assessment-and-monitoring.php

For more information, see: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/080242#BK28

Shifting Gears and Spring Clean Ups: Fun Ways to Support a Greener Tomorrow

Clean and Green Environmental Sustainability

Spring has arrived and with it a number of environmental clean ups and community eco-events have started in Peterborough. It’s time to spring up and clean up – here are some local Peterborough events to consider taking part in to encourage a green and clean community!

Shifting Gears is one of the annual spring events that Cambium staff has participated in for the past number of years. We take part in the Workplace Challenge and choose car-alternatives – bike, walk, and carpool or telecommute – for getting to work and appointments. Peterborough Moves organizes this month long event. Last year one of our staff even biked to work from Cavan-Monaghan to our Hunter Street Office! The event offers a number of activities including special nights for bike tune-ups, and group rides in addition to weekly draws. Check out the website and sign up – it’s your chance to make the shift towards active and sustainable transportation in a fun and competitive manner.

Everyone has a part to play in keeping our community healthy and green. If you are spring-cleaning your home, check out the City of Peterborough’s Spring Environment Day. It is happening on Saturday May 13, 2017 at Eastgate Park parking lot (2150 Ashburnham Road) from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., rain or shine. This is great opportunity to clean out and recycle items from your home – scrap metal, electronics, single use batteries, and more. A complete listing of items and event details are available on the City website.

Sustainability is a strong component of both Cambium’s work and general office culture. Our team is committed to support community development initiatives and sustainable practices for a greener and better tomorrow. If you or your business are looking for ways to increase sustainability give us a call and we can help; Cambium works with a number of clients to provide options for waste management solutions & audits, sustainability planning, hazardous material disposal, and much more.

Five Solutions to Common Environmental Site Assessment Errors

One of Cambium’s areas of expertise is with Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and Peer Reviews. Our team completes hundreds of ESAs and Peer Reviews annually.  If you require a phase I or phase II ESA, this technical update provides general information on common, frustrating mistakes in Environmental Site Assessments related work and reporting.  With added due diligence, and words of wisdom, many of these common errors should and can be avoided.

Scenario One: Consultant conducts a Phase I ESA and recommends Phase II ESA work as during the records review; hazardous waste generation took place on neighbouring sites within the prescribed 250 m search radius.

Solution: Regulators allow Consultants to make arguments for exclusion, based on 3 facts, including but not limited to depth to groundwater, direction of groundwater flow, soil stratigraphy etc. Did your Consultant postulate with reasoning why a Phase II ESA was required here or merely provide default recommendations without further consideration?

Scenario Two: Consultant conducts Phase II ESA – Soils Investigation and finds samples near surface elevated with pH, EC and SAR. Consultant then suggests site remediation take place.

Solution: Regulators allow Consultants to take mathematical approaches to averaging pH within a 2 metre radius within the same soil unit. Regulators also allow Consultants to consider whether the Site Condition Standards were exceeded at the property solely because a substance was applied to a highway (i.e. street etc.) which is deemed exempt from the regulations.  Did your Consultant examine these possibilities prior to rendering a judgement?

Scenario Three: Consultant provides a Phase II ESA – Proposal and recommends analytical testing for just about every regulated parameter listed in the regulation.   Realtor solicits two (2) more proposals from competitors and finds completely different analytical work programs.

Solution: Experienced professionals understand which analytical test groups are associated with a particular industry or activity. There is no need to over analyze a site and test for all regulated compounds.   If in doubt, Consultants should rely on MOECC and CCME Guidance Manuals and reference documents, rather than offering everything available via our regulations.

Scenario Four: Consultant conducts a Phase III ESA – Environmental Site Cleanup at a former petroleum tankfarm location. Compliance is achieved for soils remediation, however no groundwater sampling was undertaken or if done, did not include recovery of groundwater within the open excavation.

Solution: A mandatory requirement of Ontario Regulation 153/04, as amended includes sampling and analysis of groundwater when a property was used in part for the following commercial uses: as a garage, gasoline outlet, or dry cleaner. Furthermore, to validate this requirement, groundwater must be recovered within the former remediation area, which means that installation of a monitoring well is necessary, post remediation to ensure satisfactory site cleanup.

Scenario Five: Consultant conducts a Phase II ESA Groundwater Investigation and finds elevated concentrations of several petroleum hydrocarbon compounds and/or volatile organic compounds. Consultant then suggests that site remediation take place, or worse yet, nothing can be done here.

Solution: Never rely on one set of data in such a circumstance. Have your Consultant resample and examine trends within the due diligence period.  Consultants need to recognize when more advanced sampling techniques should be employed.  Examples – Low Flow (Minimal Drawdown) Sampling, finer field filtration (0.20 um filters, when permitted) etc.  Consultants also need to recognize whether the results are trulyrepresentative (repeatable, defendable) or perhaps due to sampling/lab error.

We hope you find value in this blog. If you have any questions or would like further information on our ESA services, feel free to contact our experienced professionals: David Mably, P. Eng., out of the Cambium Barrie office or Brad Sawdon, P. Geo., at the Peterborough office.