What happened when this cop and deer met on a crowded street in New York City? Click on the image to find out (you’ll need sound on) then come back here and let me know what you think of the message and how it has been communicated.
I’ve created a new blog! reGreen-ing takes over Green-ing as of October 2011.
Content remains the same, focusing on Canada’s environmentally sustainable (r)evolution.
Come visit, and don’t forget to bookmark us! Contributions are welcome, email me for details if you would like to submit articles for reGreen-ing Canada.
Regards and thanks for reading!
Jeff Nagel, June 9, 2011 for BC Local News
Fat and grease from slaughtered animals is now helping generate more biogas at Metro Vancouver’s Annacis Island sewage treatment plant.
The methane-rich gas is so far burned to generate electricity for the plant in Delta, but could in the future be cleaned and sold into the natural gas distribution grid to heat local homes.
Waste grease from renderers arrives in tanker trucks at the plant and is added to digester tanks where bacteria treat sewage and burp out biogas as a byproduct.
The $2.6-million pilot project to add grease and fats to the process began in April.
It’s so far yielding an extra 8,000 cubic metres of biogas per day and is expected to boost gas production 20 per cent overall.
“It’s working very smoothly,” said Paul Lam, Metro’s waste water treatment division manager.
Metro estimates the project will pay for itself within eight to 12 years, based on the value of the electricity or biogas produced and the tipping fees the region charges suppliers to dispose of the fat.
Engineers also plan to test out the use of brown grease from restaurants as another way to produce more biogas at Annacis.
Restaurant grease also goes to biodiesel makers and Lam acknowledge that could put Metro in “a little” competition with them.
But he said suppliers would ultimately go to the cheapest place for disposal.
Similar co-digestion projects exist in Europe and parts of the U.S. but Metro is one of the only operators using the technology in Canada.
The use of captured biogas – a powerful greenhouse gas – helps Metro reduce its carbon emissions by offsetting the burning of fossil fuels.
“Selling the gas would generate more carbon credits than the electricity,” Lam said, but added the power produced on site is an important backup source in case of outages.
Other treatment plants in the region, including Lions Gate on the North Shore, also capture biogas but Annacis is the first to supplement the feedstock with grease.
Metro is committed to recovering more energy from its sewage under its now-approved Liquid Waste and Resource Management Plan.
Other avenues being pursued to reclaim resources from sewage include tests underway to capture phosphorous, an increasingly valuable commodity needed to fertilize crops.
Sewage sludge is already turned into compost for limited uses and Metro engineers think that material could also be used as fuel by some local industries.
See related video ‘Grease in Sewers’: http://bcove.me/7vb6ef2n
Vaasa, Finland – Metso will supply a 140MW bio-gasification plant to Vaskiluodon Voima Oy in Vaasa. The bio-gasification plant, which will be adjoined to the existing 565MW coal-fired power plant, will be fuelled mainly by forest residues.
The biogas produced will then be combusted with coal. The bio-gasification plant enables Vaskiluodon Voima to replace 25-40% of the coal it now uses with renewable energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 230ktpa.
Vaskiluodon Voima’s total investment is approximately Euro40 million, of which Metso’s delivery represents more than half. The new bio-gasification plant is to start up in December 2012.
Metso’s delivery encompasses a complete solution including fuel handling, the drying plant and gasifier, the modifications needed for the existing coal-fired boiler, and the entire plant automation and information management systems.
Vaskiluodon Voima’s biomass gasification plant will be the first in the world on such a large scale, according to Metso. The operation will employ about 100 people.
“The majority of the world’s energy production is still heavily relying on coal. Metso’s new bio-gasification technology, including biomass drying, offers a new, cost-effective alternative for large coal-fired plants to increase the share of biomass and reduce the proportion of coal and emissions,” says Juhani Isaksson, Product Manager for Metso.
Mauri Blomberg, MD of Vaskiluodon Voima, explains that the investment allows a relatively low-cost and rapid deployment of bioenergy: “Metso proved to be a partner that could supply a comprehensive bio-gasification technology solution, which combines the power plant process, biomass drying, modifications to the coal-fired boiler and automation into one competitive and functioning unit.
Monday, May 9, 2011
By Jeff Gray
Lawyers for Vale SA head into a Toronto courtroom on Monday to appeal a groundbreaking class-action ruling that ordered the company to pay homeowners in Port Colborne, Ont., $36-million in compensation for decades of pollution from an Inco nickel refinery.
The Brazilian mining giant, which took over Inco in 2006, is challenging a decision by Mr. Justice Joseph Henderson of the Ontario Superior Court that would see affected homeowners in the city of 18,000 compensated for the effect of the nickel pollution on their property values.
A three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear the case, which is scheduled to last four days.
Judge Henderson’s ruling, issued last July, raised eyebrows. Some legal observers said it could mean more U.S.-style “toxic tort” class-action lawsuits against polluters, the kind of confrontation dramatized a decade ago in the Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts.
Some critics said the judgment should be “terrifying” to any industry with a smokestack, as it could expose even companies that follow all environmental rules to massive liabilities.
Inco was not found to have been negligent or to have broken any laws. And the company’s lawyers argue in their appeal that the nickel residue has not damaged people’s health or their properties.
While the health effects of the nickel fumes that came out of its smokestacks have been hotly debated among people in Port Colborne, the plaintiffs dropped their health claims in this class action.
The company disputes Judge Henderson’s use of an 1868 decision by Britain’s House of Lords called Rylands v. Fletcher to find Inco liable for the nickel residue that ended up in the soil of many of the town’s gardens and backyards.
In the Rylands case, a landowner was found liable after a water reservoir, deemed a “non-natural” use of land, flooded a neighbour’s mine. Vale argues that legally operating a nickel refinery should be considered a “natural” activity.
The company also criticizes the calculations the court used to compare property values in Port Colborne with those in a nearby town.
And Vale disagrees with the judge’s decision to stretch the standard time-limitation period for a lawsuit like this one. Normally, plaintiffs would have six years after the pollution ceased to make their claims. Inco stopped refining nickel at its Port Colborne plant in 1984, but the lawsuit wasn’t filed until 2001.
Read the whole article
A report by Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Industry group and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index is based on the responses of more than 400 chief executive officers and senior manufacturing executives worldwide to a survey conducted in late 2009 and early 2010. It also draws on select interviews with key manufacturing decision makers.
The report indicates that access to talented workers capable of supporting innovation is the key factor driving global competitiveness at manufacturing companies — well ahead of ‘classic’ factors typically associated with competitive manufacturing, such as labor, materials, and energy.
Newcomer economies to gain ground
The report identified the emergence of a new group of leaders in the manufacturing competitive index over the next five years. These include Mexico, Poland, and Thailand — countries not always considered alongside longer-standing, up-and-comers like Brazil and Russia. Not unexpectedly, Asian giants like China, India, and the Republic of Korea are projected to dominate the index in five years, as they do now. Further, dominant manufacturing super powers of the late 20th century — the United States, Japan, and Germany — are expected to become less competitive over the next five years.
Competing seen as easiest in Asia, tougher in United States and Europe
The report identified a clear geographical divergence in the perception of public policy support for competitiveness. Most respondents from China think that their government makes competitiveness easy compared to respondents in Europe and the United States, with 70 percent of them citing government support of science, technology, and innovation as advantageous.
Read the report published June 2010 (56 p.)
Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist
The Conference Board of Canada
Almost all organizations rely on supply chains for their operations. For decades, firms in many sectors, but especially in manufacturing, have focused on going global and making their supply chains as efficient as possible to keep input and operating costs to a bare minimum and remain competitive. But recent events have demonstrated that resiliency and reliability are quickly becoming more important factors in effective supply chain management.
What is a supply chain? It is a strategic process in which inputs for an end-product come from a variety of sources. A related and larger concept is value chains, which encompasses all activities that create or add to value for an organization – like research and development or marketing, in addition to key business inputs.
For at least the past two decades, many firms have worked to make their regional and global supply chains as efficient as possible. They have searched continually for the lowest possible cost of inputs, and the most efficient business model while respecting standards of quality. Firms have therefore relied more heavily in imported inputs, and they have adopted practices like global and regional sourcing and just-in-time inventory management, all in an effort to reduce operating costs.
But the world of supply chain management is changing and assessing the risks to supply chain management is becoming trickier. The price of oil and many other commodities has risen significantly along with the global economic recovery, propelled upward by strong sustained growth in emerging markets. Oil prices have recently jumped well beyond $100 a barrel due to the remarkable political events in North Africa and the Middle East.
Higher oil prices have raised necessary questions about whether firms should shorten their supply chains (i.e. bring supply closer to their core markets) in response to higher oil prices, in order to reduce shipping and other energy-related costs within their supply chain. The relationship between the value of inputs and the related shipping costs is being examined more closely, the longer the price of oil stays beyond $100 a barrel.
In addition, recent tragic events in Japan have brought the fragility of some global supply chains even more sharply into focus. The auto industry in particular –Japanese manufacturers, but also others – seems to have relied on specific parts and inputs that were made in only one or a few locations in Japan. Due to the earthquake and tsunami, those inputs have suddenly become unavailable and firms are scrambling for replacement parts and inputs. Assembly lines in Japan, but also in North America, have been forced to shut down at least temporarily, and some end products will not be available for sale to consumers.
The combination of these forces should lead to a fundamental re-think of the global supply chain model. The drive for efficiency will constantly have to balanced against a desire to ensure greater resiliency to unexpected shocks, and increased reliability – that parts will be there when they are needed.
A reassessment of the risks to specific links in the supply chain will likely make supply chains shorter in future – less global, more regional and local – thanks to higher oil prices and resulting higher shipping costs, especially for inputs that have low value relative to their weight. Supply chains will likely be made more resilient, such as by shifting from just-in-time supply of inputs, to greater use of just-in-case inventory management. And supply chains should be made more reliable by identifying more than one source of supply for key inputs, from locations that are geographically separated. Business continuity plans will also need to be reviewed and sharpened, since we now understand that what can go wrong sometimes does go wrong.
Global supply chains will continue to be a source of value creation for business, but their continued success will require a careful and constant balancing of economic efficiency with resilience and reliability.
Special to The Star by Steve Maxwell April 13, 2011
Just over in Europe, you’ll find a group of modern, northern people thriving in a challenging landscape very similar to our own.
They have relatively small populations, they deal with harsh winters, and they rely on wisdom and good planning to survive and thrive in an environment with limited natural resources. What I learned about how these people meet the challenges of living sustainably and elegantly in the frozen north fills me with both joy and at least a little despair. Joy that some people have achieved goals that I didn’t think were possible, and despair because of a question: Why haven’t we Canadians managed to achieve anything close to the same levels of beauty and sustainability?
My mixed emotions sprang from the CanNORD 2011 conference last month, where I was a delegate. Leaders in urban design and sustainability from five Nordic countries — Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland — gathered with their Canadian counterparts at the Allstream Centre at Toronto’s Exhibition Place to share ideas and experiences about building better cities.
In this case “better” means boosting the efficiency of energy use, reducing our burden on the environment and creating city landscapes that are beautiful, emotionally uplifting and ecologically sustainable. It’s not that we Canadians haven’t made some progress in these areas, it’s just that I now know how much this progress falls short of what’s happening elsewhere. Take Helsinki, the capital of Finland, for example.
More than 90 per cent of all buildings in this city of almost 600,000 are connected to district heating plants. This is one of the highest rates of district heating in the world, and it’s also the most efficient and least expensive option possible for space heating. Insulated, underground pipes connect buildings, both large and small, to efficient central heating and cooling plants that condition indoor air at much lower financial and environmental cost than individual furnaces. Toronto only has district services like this in part of the downtown core.
Helsinki’s civic leaders are also committed to the lofty and necessary goal of completely eliminating all fossil fuel consumption for power generation. This isn’t even on our radar screen here in Canada, and part of the way the Finns are making this happen is by recapturing heat wherever it is given off by other processes. Heat is even extracted from purified municipal sewage and large computer halls, for example, and used again for space heating.
Does this sound like it takes impossibly expensive infrastructure? That’s our usual North American thinking, but it’s not the only way to look at things. “Sustainable development is not a burden to the economy,” explained Pekka Sauri, deputy mayor of Helsinki. He’s officially in charge of public works and environmental affairs, and has seen first-hand that green building initiatives are “sexy and lead to all kinds of other benefits.”