US Inspector General report updates case against hazardous industrial waste into sewers

The case against allowing hazardous industrial waste to be discharged into sewers received a boost this week with the release of a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General. The report carries the self-explanatory title More Action Is Needed to Protect Water Resources From Unmonitored Hazardous Chemicals. As in Canada, the US EPA is responsible for discharges from sewage treatment plants while the municipalities that own the sewer systems are responsible for allowing or not allowing industry (and householders) to discharge to sewer systems. The problem arises in part because historically municipalities were led to believe that sewage treatment plants could detoxify almost anything. Today we know that sewage treatment plants are good at dealing with human waste and some biodegradable wastes but are not effective at dealing with hazardous materials including much of the toxic waste that is discharged by industry to the sewers.

Among the points made by the Inspector General’s report:

  • US EPA regulations are not effective in controlling the discharge of hundreds of hazardous chemicals to surface waters such as lakes and streams.
  • This is due to a general regulatory focus on the priority pollutants list that has not been updated since 1981, limited monitoring
    requirements, limited coordination between EPA offices, a lack of tracking hazardous waste notifications required for submittal by industrial users, or a lack of knowledge of discharges reported by industrial users under the Toxics Release Inventory.
  • The US TRI Program currently covers 683 chemicals and chemical categories including many, but not all, hazardous chemicals. [Canada’s equivalent, the National Pollutant Release Inventory, covers 346 substances.]
  • EPA has not taken actions to address discharges of hundreds of hazardous chemicals from sewage treatment plants.
  • Sewage treatment plant staff do not monitor for hazardous chemicals discharged by industrial users.
  • Hundreds of hazardous chemicals are not listed as clean water act priority pollutants.
  • Under the general pretreatment regulations, industrial users are required to notify the sewage treatment plant, the EPA Regional Waste Management Division Director, and state hazardous waste authorities in writing of any discharge into the
    sewage treatment plant of a substance, which, if otherwise disposed of, would be a hazardous waste. This refers to RCRA hazardous wastes. However, when EPA staff were asked about these notifications, there was a general lack of awareness
    of the requirement.
  • Whole effluent toxicity tests are not effectively used for monitoring and enforcement.
  • Some sewage treatment plant operators believed, incorrectly, that monitoring of toxic chemicals was not necessary because the chemicals in question should be metabolized and rendered harmless in the sewage treatment process.
  • US EPA has agreed with a set of recommendations made by the Inspector General, including a review of chemicals monitored nationwide in sewage treatment plant discharges.

GallonDaily repeats its prediction that discharge of industrial wastes to sewers will be severely restricted within five to ten years.

The full 20 page report is available at

Is such a small mention at least a step forward?

The following is a brief extract from Prime Minister Harper’s address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City last evening:

That’s why Canada has always been ready and willing to join with other civilized peoples and to challenge affronts to the international order, affronts to human dignity itself, such as are today present in Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine, in the Middle East, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, and of course many parts of Africa. Canada’s positions on these issues are well known, and we will continue to contribute to the extent to which we are able in assisting our friends and allies in the international community to deal with these grave challenges. But while these extreme situations are being confronted, other problems, pandemics, climate change, and of course the problems of underdevelopment remain.

The complete address, in which he also said:

“As indicated by my colleague from Senegal, President Macky Sall, aid is needed for development but what is needed even more is investment. He is quite right. Yet, no matter how freely we trade, millions of people will for some time to come need a helping hand.”

can be found at

Canada not part of New York Declaration on Forests

Announced at the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday of this week the New York Declaration on Forests is a commitment by governments, industry and NGOs to end deforestation by 2030, with an intermediate target of halving the rate of deforestation by 2020.

Other goals of signatories to the non-binding Declaration are to:

  • Support and help meet the private-sector goal of eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, paper and beef products by no later than 2020, recognizing that many companies have even more ambitious targets.
  • Significantly reduce deforestation derived from other economic sectors by 2020.
  • Support alternatives to deforestation driven by basic needs (such as subsistence farming and reliance on fuel wood for energy) in ways that alleviate poverty and promote sustainable and equitable development.
  • Restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020 and significantly increase the rate of global restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030.
  • Include ambitious, quantitative forest conservation and restoration targets for 2030 in the post-2015 global development framework, as part of new international sustainable development goals.
  • Agree in 2015 to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as part of a post-2020 global climate agreement, in accordance with internationally agreed rules and consistent with the goal of not exceeding 2°C warming.
  • Provide support for the development and implementation of strategies to reduce forest emissions.
  • Reward countries and jurisdictions that, by taking action, reduce forest emissions – particularly through public policies to scale-up payments for verified emission reductions and private-sector sourcing of commodities.
  • Strengthen forest governance, transparency and the rule of law, while also empowering communities and recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, especially those pertaining to their lands and resources.

Achieving these outcomes is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4.5 – 8.8 billion tons CO2e per year by 2030, equivalent to removing every vehicle off the world’s roads.

The 27 countries that have signed on to the declaration include France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. Among the 34 companies that have signed on are such well-known names as Asia Pulp and Paper, Barclays, Cargill, Danone, Deutsche Bank, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, L’Oreal, Marks & Spencer, McDonalds, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Unilever, and Walmart. The only company which GallonDaily recognized as a Canadian company is Sobeys.

The Declaration will remain open for signature until the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015. Hopefully by that time both the second largest exporter of primary forest products in the world (Canada) and some of Canada’s leading forest product producers and processors will have signed on.

The New York Declaration on Forests can be found at

The UN press release announcing the Declaration is at

UN Climate Summit achieves quite a bit more than expected

The Climate Summit convened by UN Chairman Ban Ki Moon at UN Headquarters in New York City yesterday was intended to be an event ‘to raise political momentum for a meaningful universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015’. In fact, the event encouraged the release of more commitments than are usually seen at the annual UN Framework Convention on Climate Change annual negotiating sessions. Among the many commitments tabled:

  • Many leaders called for all countries to take national actions consistent with a less than 2 degree pathway and a number of countries committed to doing so.
  • Leaders committed to finalise a meaningful, universal new agreement under the UNFCCC at COP-21, in Paris in 2015, and to arrive at the first draft of such an agreement at COP-20 in Lima, in December 2014.
  • Many leaders, from all regions and all levels of economic development advocated for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, dramatically reduced emissions thereafter, and climate neutrality in the second half of the century.
  • European Union countries committed to a target of reducing emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Leaders from more than 40 countries, 30 cities and dozens of corporations launched large-scale commitment to double the rate of global energy efficiency by 2030 through vehicle fuel efficiency, lighting, appliances, buildings and district energy.
  • The New York Declaration on Forests, launched and supported by more than 150 partners, including 28 government, 8 subnational governments, 35 companies, 16 indigenous peoples groups, and 45 NGO and civil society groups, aims to halve the loss of natural forests globally by 2030. [GallonDaily will report on the New York Declaration on Forests tomorrow.]
  • Twenty-four leading global producers of palm oil as well as commodities traders committed to contribute to the goal of zero net deforestation by 2020 and to work with Governments, private sector partners and indigenous peoples to ensure a sustainable supply chain.
  • The transport sector brought substantial emissions reduction commitments linked to trains, public transportation, freight, aviation and electric cars.
  • Some of the world’s largest retailers of meat and agricultural products committed to adapt their supply chains to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change. They will assist 500 million farmers in the process.
  • A new coalition of governments, business, finance, multilateral development banks and civil society leaders announced their intent to mobilise over $200 billion for financing low-carbon and climate-resilient development.
  • Countries strongly reaffirmed their support for mobilising public and private finance to meet the $100 billion dollar goal per annum by 2020.
  • Leaders expressed strong support for the Green Climate Fund and many called for the Fund’s initial capitalization at an amount no less than $10 billion. There was a total of $2.3 billion in pledges to the Fund’s initial capitalization from six countries. Six others committed to allocate contributions by November 2014.
  • The European Union committed $3 billion for mitigation efforts in developing countries between 2014 and 2020.
  • The International Development Finance Club (IDFC) announced that it is on track to increase direct green/climate financing to $100 billion a year for new climate finance activities by the end of 2015.
  • Leaders from private finance called for the creation of an enabling environment to undertake the required investments in low-carbon climate resilient growth. They announced the following commitments:
    • Leading commercial banks announced their plans to issue $30 billion of Green Bonds by 2015, and announced their intention to increase the amount placed in climate-smart development to 10 times the current amount by 2020.
    • A coalition of institutional investors, committed to decarbonizing $100 billion by December 2015 and to measure and disclose the carbon footprint of at least $500 billion in investments.
    • The insurance industry committed to double its green investments to $84 billion by the end of 2015.
    • Three major pension funds from North America and Europe announced plans to accelerate their investments in low-carbon investments across asset classes up to more than $31 billion by 2020.
  • Seventy-three national Governments, 11 regional governments and more than 1,000 businesses and investors signalled their support for pricing carbon. Together these leaders represent 52 per cent of global GDP, 54 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and almost half of the world’s population.
  • More than 30 leading companies announced their alignment with the Caring for Climate Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing.
  • Leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020.

In today’s Toronto Star, columnist Thomas Walkom observes:

Given his record as a spoiler, maybe it’s just as well that Stephen Harper didn’t attend Tuesday’s climate-change summit in New York. The prime minister has never liked meaningful plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Over the years, he has done his best to sabotage them.

The Chair’s summary of the event can be found at

Number of Green Party politicians growing slowly but steadily in Canada

The election of David Coon, Leader of the New Brunswick Green Party, in yesterday’s provincial election brings the number of Green Party politicians to four across Canada – Elizabeth May (Saanich – Gulf Islands) and Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay – Superior North) in Ottawa, Andrew Weaver (Oak Bay – Gordon Head) in BC, and David Coon (Fredericton South) in NB. Combining both federal and provincial governments, there are now Green Party politicians from BC, Ontario, and New Brunswick, along with a scattering of municipal politicians who are members of or ideologically aligned with the Greens.

Political predictions are a fools game but slow and steady growth in the Green Party seems likely. Both May and Hyer are hard working and high profile in their constituencies, positioning them well for re-election in next year’s federal election, though Hyer has never been elected as a Green (he was elected previously as a New Democrat).  Weaver and Coon are new but barring major mistakes or unexpected trends their first election was likely the most difficult and future ones should be easier. They are both very solid policy wonks and should have little difficulty convincing voters that Greens are not radicals, meaning that their party may pick up a couple of additional seats in each province in future elections.

David Coon may be known to more senior readers as the Manager of Pollution Probe Foundation’s Ecology House, an energy efficient and ecological living demonstration home in downtown Toronto in the 1980’s, when GallonDaily’s editor was Executive Director of the same organization. Subsequently he moved to New Brunswick and became Executive Director and a staff member of the conservation Council of New Brunswick.

This article is a GallonDaily original.

Global population may grow to exceed previous projections

In recent years the United Nations and other population agencies have projected that the global population will grow to just over 9 billion by 2050 before starting a gradual decline. Resource planning has often been based on this number.

Now an international group of scientists has analysed the latest data on population and has concluded that the gradual decline scenario is unlikely. Their analysis suggests that the global population could reach by 2100.

Some of the key findings of this new research include:

the world population can be expected to increase from the current 7.2 billion people to 9.6 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100.

Asia will probably remain the most populous continent, although its population is likely to peak around the middle of the century and then decline.

the projected population of Africa, with a current population of about one billion, is projected to rise to between 3.1 and 5.7 billion with probability 95% by the end of the century, with a median projection of 4.2 billion.

rapid population growth in high-fertility countries can create a range of challenges: environmental (depletion of natural resources, pollution), economic (unemployment, low wages, poverty), health (high maternal and child mortality), governmental (lagging investments in health, education and infrastructure), and social (rising unrest and crime)

Projections of population data are important for both ecological and economic planners as well as for business. An abstract of the article, published in the journal Science, and a link to the full text (subscription or fee required) with more information on country data and probabilities can be found at

US Administration takes steps to combat antibiotic resistance

Yesterday President Obama issued an Executive Order which begins, or restarts, the battle against antibiotic resistance. Given the widespread use of antibiotics not only for maintenance of human health but also as animal growth promotants and in household, commercial, industrial, and institutional products, the future of US initiatives should be of interest to a wide range of sectors in Canada and may point the direction of future Canadian initiatives.

The President’s Executive Order puts in place processes which could lead to new regulations and codes limiting the use of antibacterials. The time frames are quite short. In summary, the steps the US is taking in this important field include:

  • making combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria a national security priority.
  • establishing an inter-agency Task Force to identify actions that will provide for the facilitation and monitoring of implementation of this order and the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. By February 15, 2015, the Task Force shall submit a 5-year National Action Plan (Action Plan) to the President that outlines specific actions to be taken to implement the Strategy.
  • establishment of a Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to provide advice, information, and recommendations regarding programs and policies intended to: preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by optimizing their use; advance research to develop improved methods for combating antibiotic resistance and conducting antibiotic stewardship; strengthen surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections; prevent the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections; advance the development of rapid point-of-care and agricultural diagnostics; further research on new treatments for bacterial infections; develop alternatives to antibiotics for agricultural purposes; maximize the dissemination of up-to-date information on the appropriate and proper use of antibiotics to the general public and human and animal healthcare providers; and improve international coordination of efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.
  • new regulations will be recommended to require hospitals and other inpatient healthcare delivery facilities to implement robust antibiotic stewardship programs that adhere to best practices.
  • the US will engage in international action to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including the development of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance.

The complete Executive Order is available at

Innovative thinking about a hotel product

At least one Vancouver B.C. hotel has implemented an innovative lodging product. While most major hotels now offer the option of a guest choosing to not have sheets and towels changed every day the Lonsdale Quay Hotel at the SeaBus terminal in North Vancouver has implemented a room rate which gives the guest a big saving on their room rate if they choose not to have daily housekeeping service.

Under the hotel’s Eco Discount Package, the hotel offers “We’ll have fresh sheets ready for you, and clean them when you leave. No Housekeeping Service during your stay…great savings for you and the planet!” The package is for a 3 night minimum stay but the savings are quite awesome. For example, for five days at the end of October the Eco Discount Package rate is $85 per room per night compared to a rack rate of $200 and a super saver rate of $110.

Locking in the ‘no housekeeping’ obviously saves the hotel a chunk of money but passing those savings on to the client is something that not only helps to save water and energy involved in laundry but also helps to make the hotel more competitive for lower budget travellers. It is an example of the kind of ‘beyond the box thinking’ that GallonDaily encourages as an example of environment and the economy working hand in hand. Obviously the Eco Discount Package rate is offered only when the hotel is not fully or nearly fully booked at other rates. Even so, GallonDaily highly commends the initiative and recommends the hotel which is only a 12 minute SeaBus ride away from the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Unlike some supposed ecoefficiency initiatives in hotels where  housekeepers do things like change towels daily even when the guest requests that they not be changed, the Lonsdale Quay’s Eco Discount package actually seems to work. GallonDaily’s editor recently stayed at the hotel and effectively received no housekeeping during the four nights of his stay.

If you, or some business that you know, is offering a unique product or service that benefits both the economy and the environment please let us know by sending an email describing the product or service to . Please include your name and phone number as we may wish to talk to your about your nomination. We will publish information about some of the products and services nominated.

Information about the Lonsdale Quay Hotel may be found at

This is a GallonDaily original article.

BC Environment Minister cool towards MultiMaterial BC

Multi-Material British Columbia is an industry led and funded non-profit organization established with the encouragement of the BC Ministry of the Environment that assumed responsibility for managing residential packaging and printed paper in the Province in May 2014. The launch of the MMBC program was very controversial among municipalities and many have yet to join.

Normally Ministers express a high degree of enthusiasm for programs initiated by their governments but BC Environment Minister Mary Polak was less than enthusiastic about MMBC during her opening remarks to the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference 2014 today. She told the conference that her Ministry is watching MMBC closely to see if the initiative will be a success.

Waste management, especially including recycling, composting and aerobic/anaerobic thermal systems continue to be very controversial in Canada. New legislation for Ontario’s packaging stewardship system is stalled with the government not wanting to raise a matter that has been very controversial. MMBC has partially copied some of the Ontario system, with modifications, and similar mistakes are being made. There is a risk that it will not succeed and that the BC Environment Ministry will be forced to re-engage with recycling and other municipal waste management issues. In the current era of 100% brandowner stewardship, increased government involvement will almost certainly increase the cost of packaging stewardship recycling costs for many brandowners.

In GallonDaily’s opinion key problems arise because:

  • industry is not taking sufficient account of broad political and social issues in its management of product stewardship and related recycling and waste management programs.
  • a huge amount of recycling and waste management misinformation is in circulation. Until the public becomes better informed, public pressure will push governments in environmentally and economically inappropriate policy directions. Industry needs to play a much stronger role in public education.
  • division of recycling and composting activity between governments and industry often means that municipalities and households bear the costs while industry reaps the profits. Recycling collection monopolies often make this situation worse. Systems need to be established so that those who bear the costs also make the profits.

This post comes to GallonDaily from our Editor direct from the floor of the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference 2014.

New Champions conference discusses the engagement of business in the new climate context

The New Champions Conference claims to be the foremost global business gathering in Asia. Also known as the “Summer Davos”, the Meeting creates a unique opportunity for exchange between leaders from top-ranked multinationals and chief executive officers of dynamic and fast-growing companies, including key decision-makers from government, media, academia and civil society.

At this year’s conference one panel focussed on how business should engage in the new climate context. Among the key points made by panel members were:

  • Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Minister of Climate, Energy and Building of Denmark: “Creating a stable framework has helped our businesses create the solutions we need to combat climate change.” “The transition from black to green economies will only be achieved when businesses can make decisions. We need to recognize the need for profitability when we do our regulatory work.”
  • Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Chairman, National Development and Reform Commission, People’s Republic of China, and China’s lead negotiator on climate change at the United Nations: “We need to find a circular pathway to development.” “Businesses need profit, but they need to find a way to achieve common prosperity. If we can do that, we can respond to the climate change challenge and turn the world into a more beautiful place.”
  • Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington DC: “There is huge innovation taking place in the private sector around solutions. This is happening in the absence of a global agreement. This is the most exciting part of what we are seeing today.”
  • Mark Herrema, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Newlight Technologies, USA: “What is missing is something to bridge the gap between what we need to address [in terms of climate change] and people who ask why they cannot use carbon to growth their businesses.” “Industry is taking climate change into their own hands and sequestering carbon.”
  • Feike Sijbesma, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM, Netherlands: “Mother Earth is not helped by targets and good intentions, but real innovations to change things.” “We in the private sector cannot hide ourselves behind the lesser progress made in public debates.”

For a more detailed summary of the session, and links to other comments and analysis, visit

For more of the highlights of the conference held this week in Tianjin, China, visit