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
Proposal
Proposal 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

Proposal summary

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is proposing updates to the thresholds for determining the environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling facilities under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA).

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.

The comment period was from January 14, 2022
to February 28, 2022

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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

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