January 15, 2007

Strict terms attached to approval for use of tires as fuel at Lafarge plant

The Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) has set out strict conditions in two air certificates of approval (C of As) that will allow Lafarge Canada to replace about 30% of the fuel it currently uses at its cement manufacturing plant in Bath with used tires and other municipal wastes.

In a pilot project, Lafarge will be allowed to burn these wastes under strictly controlled conditions in order to confirm that the process can meet Ontario's stringent air emission standards. The phased approach calls for the tires to be burned in gradually increasing amounts in three demonstration stages over a period of two years. During each phase, emission levels must meet the MOE standards before Lafarge can proceed to the next stage.

The conditions set out in the C of As, issued under the Environmental Protection Act, require the following.

*Rigorous third-party oversight: The demonstration phase of the project will include an independent third-party technical review of the facility's performance testing on behalf of a community liaison committee. Lafarge's emissions results will also be reviewed by the Ministry.

*An open and transparent process: The company is required to monitor emissions continuously. Lafarge has also agreed to display its continuous monitoring in a public place. The community liaison committee will review the results.

*Strict standards: The facility will have to meet strict air emission limits based on Ontario's rigorous A7 air guideline. These standards are more stringent than either the European Union or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits. Lafarge will also have to achieve even lower limits for lead and cadmium.

*Success criteria: If, during the demonstration phase, Lafarge verifies, to the Ministry's satisfaction, that the technology has met the required emissions standards at each level of testing, the Bath plant will be allowed to continue, subject to routine performance testing and continuous emission monitoring.

Under its C of A for waste, Lafarge has committed to ensuring that the wastes received at the site are either not recyclable due to their properties or are surplus to the capacity of Ontario recycling markets. The company is further required to provide the Ministry an annual detailed assessment of the efforts it has taken to restrict the receipt and use of potentially recyclable material.

In a related development, the MOE is proposing a temporary ban on the burning of tires for a period of two years. The regulation, under the Environmental Protection Act, would likely come into effect in the spring of 2007 and would not apply to any facility with approval to incinerate tires issued before the ban is in force.

The ban will give Ministry scientists and experts the opportunity to ensure the environmental performance of facilities that convert tires to energy. If the results are not complete, the halt can be extended to three years.

Alternative fuels, including tires, have been used for many years in safe, proven processes to make cement in Quebec as well as such jurisdictions as Sweden, Germany, and California. No facility in Ontario currently uses tires as an alternative fuel, including those with approval to do so as a replacement fuel in a manufacturing process. As a result, the MOE has no experience in monitoring the environmental performance of facilities that incinerate tires.

The plan for a proposed suspension on the burning of used tires has been posted on the Environmental Registry for public comment; submissions are due by February 4, 2007. The proposed regulation may be viewed on-line at www.ene.gov.on.ca/envregistry/029090er.htm.

In British Columbia, meanwhile, an industry-led group, Tire Stewardship BC (TSBC) has taken over the province's tire recycling program, replacing the government's Financial Incentives for Recycling Scrap Tires (FIRST) program which had been running since 1991. The new stewardship initiative, which came into effect January 1, is similar to its predecessor in that it will continue levying an eco-fee on new tires and will enable consumers to return used tires for recycling and further processing.

As part of the new plan, however, TSBC will replace the FIRST fee with a fee schedule based on the collection and processing cost of specific tire products. This will result in fee increases of $3 or $4 per tire, but all revenues will be used exclusively to support tire collection and recycling.

Other features of the new program include:

* a research and development program focused on market development, to ensure environmentally efficient and economically viable markets for products made from scrap tires;

* a cleanup program to ensure the elimination of potentially dangerous tire stockpiles;

* a formal dispute resolution process, incorporating both mediation and arbitration, to settle disputes in a timely, fair and impartial manner; and

* a public education program to make consumers aware of the benefits of reduction, re-use and recycling of tires.

More information on the program, including the new fee schedule, is available on the TSBC Web site, www.tirestewardshipbc.ca, E-mail info@tirestewardshipbc.ca.

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