Environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling facilities under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA)

ERO number
019-4867
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
January 14, 2022 - February 28, 2022 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
January 14, 2022
to February 28, 2022

Decision summary

We have finalized changes to thresholds for thermal treatment facilities that determine the environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling. These thresholds have been incorporated in Ontario Regulation 101/07: Waste Management Projects made under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA).

Decision details

Ontario is taking action to support the use of advanced recycling and energy recovery technologies that can help ensure valuable resources do not end up in landfill. As part of these efforts, we have finalized new environmental assessment (EA) requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling, under the Environmental Assessment Act.

The changes to EA requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling will:

  • encourage innovative waste recovery in Ontario while maintaining strict environmental oversight
  • make it easier for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling to address EA requirements

The changes to EA requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling were made by amending Ontario Regulation 101/07 (Waste Management Projects). This regulation sets out the undertakings that require an individual EA and those which are eligible to follow a streamlined EA process. The amendments to the regulation came into force on July 1, 2022.

Environmental assessment requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling

Ontario is following through on government commitments to recognize the value of thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling to recover valuable resources from waste by updating their EA requirements.

The amendments to Ontario Regulation 101/07 (Waste Management Projects) under the EAA enables advanced recyclers to follow the streamlined EA process set out in the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Waste Management Projects if thresholds based on tonnage treated and recovery rate are met. This will help ensure resources stay out of our landfills and our environment.

Under the amendments to the regulation, where a fuel is produced from thermal treatment, this site is now included in the description of advanced recycling.

In addition, all thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling will continue to be subject to all other permits and approvals required, including Environmental Compliance Approvals.

New requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling

After considering input received from stakeholders and Indigenous communities and organizations on the proposed environmental assessment requirements for thermal treatment facilities engaging in advanced recycling under the Environmental Assessment Act, amendments to the Waste Management Projects regulation were filed on April 20, 2022, and came into force on July 1, 2022.

The amendments include:

  • new classes of thermal treatment to make it clear what types of thermal treatment would qualify as engaging in advanced recycling
  • thresholds for advanced recycling that impact the EA pathway for sites of different sizes and efficiency, providing a more streamlined path for sites that recover more materials
  • operational changes resulting in a new classification (crossing a weight threshold) require a thermal treatment facility engaging in advanced recycling to undergo the EA process for the proposed weight threshold
  • any thermal treatment site which changes their operations to be considered a different class of thermal treatment (e.g., energy-from-waste to advanced recycling) need to go through the EA process for the proposed type of operation

The EA requirements for the establishment of thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling are shown in the following table.

Table: Environmental Assessment Requirements for Thermal Treatment Sites Engaging in Advanced Recycling (Class D)

Environmental Assessment Requirements for Thermal Treatment Sites Engaging in Advanced Recycling

Waste Treatment Recovered Material percentage

Processed EA Process

10 TPD

Processed EA Process

>10 - 100 TPD

Processed EA Process

>100 - 1000 TPD

Processed EA Process

>1000 TPD

Class D <70% Recovery Not a designated undertaking Environmental Screening Process Individual Environmental Assessment Individual Environmental Assessment
Class D 70% Recovery Not a designated undertaking Not a designated undertaking Environmental Screening Process Individual Environmental Assessment

Comments received

Through the registry

19

By email

11

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Please note that of the 19 comments received through the registry, three were edits to one comment which is why a total of 27 comments on the registry were reported.

Effects of consultation

We received comments on the proposal through:

  • the Environmental Registry proposal notice (January 14, 2022 – February 28, 2022)
  • webinar engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations on January 31, 2022
  • webinar consultation with stakeholders on February 7, 2022
  • online meetings with some Indigenous communities and organizations individual stakeholders and associations

Through written and verbal communication, comments were received from a wide range of stakeholders, including:

  • industry associations
  • advanced recycling companies
  • municipalities
  • environmental organizations
  • private citizens

Feedback was also received from some Indigenous communities and organizations.

We considered the comments we received while developing the EA requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling. Those requirements are now incorporated into the amended Waste Management Projects regulation.

What we heard

While there was general support for proposed updates to the EA requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling, commenters also provided suggestions that have been incorporated into the final regulation.

Changes made in response to stakeholder feedback

The ministry considered all comments received on the proposal before finalizing the EA requirements for thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling which are included in the amended Waste Management Projects regulation.

Based on the feedback we received through this consultation, we made the following key changes:

  • created different classes of thermal treatment to easily identify thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling and make it easier for proponents to identify the appropriate EA requirements (see table below)
  • revised the recovery rate from 80% to 70% to promote the processing of less valuable plastic wastes
  • clarified the criteria for an output of thermal treatment sites engaging in advanced recycling to be considered a recovered material
  • indicated that the calculation for recovered material is based on an annual calculation
  • added that the recovered material calculation would be based on normal operations of the site
  • identified the criteria under which fuel is considered a recovered material

Description of all thermal treatment classes

Type of Class Description Changes Differences
Class A
  • Uses coal, oil or petroleum coke as a fuel for thermal treatment at the site.
  • This type of thermal treatment was described in the Regulation.
  • The existing environmental assessment requirements will continue to apply to establish this type of site.
Class B
  • Does not use coal, oil or petroleum coke as a fuel for the thermal treatment; AND
  • Thermal treatment processes are not used for the principal purpose of recovering material; AND
  • Of the energy (electricity and heat) generated by thermal treatment that is used, all of that energy is used to dispose of waste.
  • Thermal treatment sites that do not use coal, oil or petroleum coke as fuel and use all energy generated to dispose of waste were previously described in the Regulation.
  • The amendments remove the “fuel” as a generated output and state that the site is not recovering material.
  • The existing environmental assessment requirements will continue to apply to establish this type of site.
Class C
  • Does not use coal, oil or petroleum coke as a fuel for the thermal treatment; AND
  • Thermal treatment processes are used principally to recover material and of the energy generated and used, some or all of it is used off-site; OR
  • Thermal treatment processes are not used principally to recover material and of the energy generated and used, some or all of it is used at the site for a purpose other than to dispose of waste, or used off-site.
  • Thermal treatment sites that do not use coal, oil or petroleum coke as fuel and generate energy for use other than to dispose of waste (i.e. produce energy from waste) were previously described in the Regulation.
  • The amendments include in this class of thermal treatment, sites engaging in advanced recycling if the site also produces energy from waste.
  • The existing environmental assessment requirements will continue to apply to establishing this type of site.
Class D
  • Does not use coal, oil or petroleum coke as a fuel for the thermal treatment; AND
  • Thermal treatment processes is used principally to recover material; AND
  • Of the energy generated and used, all of it is used on-site.
  • This will be a new description for a thermal treatment site.
  • The streamlined environmental assessment process will be available for establishing this class of thermal treatment, depending on the size of the site (in maximum tonnes thermally treated per day) and the recovery rate. In comparison, the existing (unamended) regulation would require an individual environmental assessment.

To support this transition, we will be amending the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Waste Management Projects. A Bulletin will be posted to the Environmental Registry when the Guide is updated. The revisions will include updates to Part B of the Guide (Environmental Screening Process) and will also provide guidance on:

  • explanation of all the different classes of thermal treatment
  • clarification that anaerobic digestion is not a form of thermal treatment
  • description and calculation of Recovered Materials

Supporting materials

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Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Contact

Ian Drew

Phone number
Office
Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-4867
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

January 14, 2022 - February 28, 2022 (45 days)

Proposal details

Ontario is committed to supporting the use of advanced recycling and energy recovery technologies that can help ensure valuable resources do not end up in landfill. As part of these efforts, we are developing new environmental assessment (EA) requirements for thermal treatment-based advanced recycling facilities, under the Environmental Assessment Act.

Thermal treatment technologies rely on heat and pressure to break down hard-to-recycle plastics and other waste, so they can be reused to create new products, which reduces the need to use new natural resources and diverts waste from landfill.

The proposed changes will make it easier for advanced recycling facilities to obtain their environmental approval by clarifying how advanced recycling recovers resources from waste similar to traditional recycling facilities.

Background

Ontario's legislative framework for waste management and its resulting environmental assessment requirements have not kept pace with modern advanced recycling processes. Meaning the current descriptions of most thermal treatment technologies (i.e., incineration, gasification, pyrolysis and plasma arc treatment), do not recognize the unique recovered materials characteristic of advanced recycling applications of such technologies.

The ministry began consultation in fall 2020 on the proposed Project List for projects that would require a comprehensive environmental assessment, with a subsequent regulation proposal was posted on November 26, 2021. This current proposal on advanced recycling EA requirements is proceeding separately but concurrently, as new EA requirements, definitions, and regulatory thresholds are being proposed for advanced recycling facilities.

Proposal Details

Advanced recycling technologies recover materials that can be put to good use as feedstocks to create new products like lubricants, waxes and potentially the production of alternative fuels, which can support our green economic recovery and circular economy.

We are seeking input on the EA requirements for advanced recycling sites to better support the use of innovative processes, while maintaining strict environmental oversight.

The current proposal is to develop new environmental assessment (EA) requirements for advanced recycling.

This proposal is associated with, but proceeding separate from, the proposal to move to a project list approach under the Environmental Assessment Act.

Proposed Updates

We are proposing changes to the thresholds for environmental assessment requirements for thermal treatment projects which are engaged in advanced recycling. This includes:

  • Developing new environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling by introducing: thresholds based on tonnage treated, with an incentive of reduced burden for good performers with a high recovery rate.
  • An upper threshold that would require very large projects to undergo a comprehensive environmental assessment.
  • An 80% recovery rate that incentivizes recovery and not disposal of waste.
  • Proposing updates to Part B of the Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Waste Management Projects. The updates will provide guidance on calculating a facility’s expected recovery rate and requiring the rate to be included in the Environmental Screening Report for advanced recycling projects.

As the proposal to move to a project list approach is still in consultation, the changes related to advanced recycling could be addressed by:

  • Consolidating with the proposed project lists approach; or
  • Amending the existing Ontario Regulation 101/07 (Waste Management Projects Regulation).

The environmental assessment requirements for thermal treatment projects which are engaged in advanced recycling are shown in the following table.

Table: Environmental Assessment Requirements for Advanced Recycling

Environmental Assessment Requirements for Advanced Recycling
Waste Treatment Thermal Treatment e.g., Pyrolysis, gasification, or plasma arc) Current EA Process 10 TPD Current EA Process >10 TPD Proposed EA Process 10 TPD Proposed EA Process >10 - 100 TPD Proposed EA Process >100 - 1000 TPD Proposed EA Process >1000 TPD
Disposal EFW ESP ESP ESP (No change) ESP (No change) ESP (No change) ESP (No change)
Disposal Incineration (non-EFW) ESP CEA ESP (No change) CEA (No change) CEA (No change) CEA(No change)
Advanced Recycling <80% Recovery ESP CEA Change from ESP to No EA Change from CEA to ESP CEA (No change) CEA (No change)
Advanced Recycling 80% Recovery ESP CEA Change from ESP to No EA Change from CEA to No EA Change from CEA to ESP CEA (No change)

(TPD) Tonnes of waste treated per day, (EFW) Energy-from-Waste, (CEA) Comprehensive EA; (ESP) Environmental Screening Process; (No EA) No Environmental Assessment required.

It should be noted that we are not proposing to update the environmental assessment requirements for waste treatment sites that utilize incineration or other thermal treatment technologies for disposal or energy-from-waste purposes. In addition, despite any proposed change in EA requirements, all advanced recycling facilities will continue to be subject to all other permits and approvals required, including Environmental Compliance Approvals.

Purpose of Engagement

The purpose of engaging with Ontarians in this discussion is to collectively explore ways to:

  • Improve resource recovery and support the development of advanced recycling.
  • Minimize red tape and regulatory burden when establishing a new advanced recycling site that utilizes thermal treatment.

What We Want to Know

We want your thoughts on matters such as:

  • Is the proposed approach to EA streamlining reasonable?
  • Is an 80% recovery rate based on the ministry’s proposed criteria realistically achievable for companies proposing this technology?
  • Do the proposed definitions for advanced recycling site and recovered materials accurately capture advanced recycling technologies?

Other Public Consultation Opportunities

In developing this proposal, we considered feedback provided during consultation on:

  • Reducing Litter and Waste in our Communities: Discussion Paper, and
  • One-on-one meetings with interested and affected industry stakeholders.

Consultation

We are consulting a wide range of interested persons on the proposal for advanced recycling including:

  • Indigenous peoples
  • members of the public
  • industry/industry associations
  • non-governmental organizations

The posting will be complemented with webinar(s) for Indigenous peoples and stakeholders specific to advanced recycling that would occur during the posting.

Feedback can be provided through comments on this proposal.

Regulatory Impact Statement

The RIA analysis shows that there would be net cost savings for proponents associated with proposed changes related to advanced recycling projects. 

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from January 14, 2022
to February 28, 2022

Connect with us

Contact

Ian Drew

Phone number
Office
Resource Recovery Policy Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
8th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number