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Winnipeg should demand more recycling of construction waste: MHCA

There are numerous opportunities and dividends for the City of Winnipeg in adopting a robust recycling policy for construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) waste materials, the MHCA has told a City Council standing committee.

MHCA President Chris Lorenc sent a submission recommending the Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development Committee consider a broad policy for recycling CRD materials, as part of a motion that asked for stronger control of waste management and recycling at construction sites. The committee met June 8 and 9.

“The reuse of the significant volumes of waste materials generated by construction, renovation and demolition projects is a necessary element for environmental stewardship and responsible resource management, and fundamental to pursuing the goal of a circular economy,” the submission explained.

“Municipalities can exert considerable influence to encourage recycling and reuse of CRD waste materials, through their waste management services and policies, landfill tipping fees, recycling programs, procurement policies, public tenders and construction contract documents.”

While jurisdictions around the world have been aggressively pushing recycling of CRD materials, the reclamation and reuse of them in Canada is just an estimated 16%.

In Manitoba, recycling of heavy civil construction waste is minimal, largely the result of industry initiative in business development and environmental stewardship. For example, the use of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) on public works projects – primarily within Winnipeg – was introduced in the late 1990s by the heavy construction industry, which saw value in re-processing and repurposing the base and sub-base materials (aggregates) torn up in street rehab and reconstruction projects.

The MHCA is in discussion with the City regarding new specifications for roadbuilding base and sub-base materials, which have made the reuse of RCA difficult.

Recycling CRD materials holds real benefits, the paper noted.

“Procurement practices should consider the environmental attributes of a product to mitigate environmental impacts such as GHG emissions, energy consumption, waste generation or accelerated depletion of finite natural resources.”

The MHCA recommended Winnipeg collaborate with surrounding municipalities on a regional approach.

The MHCA is working with the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, and in discussion with relevant provincial department officials, to promote public policy encouraging a provincial and regional approach to recycling of CRD materials.

The MHCA recommended that Winnipeg join with Manitoba, the WMR, MHCA and interested stakeholders to develop a provincial-municipal approach to recycling of CRD waste materials.