Getting Smart About Waste
By Melissa Jacobs
Most Commercial Real Estate companies across Canada do not have a comprehensive national recycling and waste program across their portfolios due to varying local market conditions and the use of regionallybased waste management companies. When thinking about sustainably managing waste and improving a company’s practices, it is important to first understand the waste that is generated across the portfolio and how it is currently managed. High quality data is crucial to driving meaningful waste management improvements but can be difficult to obtain with the myriad of service providers across the country. Hence, monitoring one’s current waste management provides the foundation for implementing a meaningful reduction programme.
In 2015, First Capital Realty (FCR), an owner and operator of urban retail properties across Canada, was seeking to improve the efficiency and reduce the costs related to our existing waste and recycling program. However, we were inhibited by the lack of a scalable waste monitoring method and suffered from inconsistent reporting in different regions across Canada. FCR decided to engage a third-party waste consultant (RecycleSmart) with a focus to maximize cost reduction, increase waste diversion and streamline data collection. The relationship with RecycleSmart began in Western Canada and after having seen progress in our portfolio out there, in 2017 FCR expanded the relationship to include our Ontario portfolio as well. In total, there are now 170 FCR sites working with RecycleSmart across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
RecycleSmart uses licensed and proprietary IoT technology to intelligently monitor waste and recycling measurements throughout Canada. Combined with employing some of the most celebrated professionals in the enviroservices field, they right-size programs while focusing on diversion and sustainability opportunities, combined with money-saving improvements.
RecycleSmart knows that the best way to realize shared fiscal and sustainability wins is to work with progressive partners on building a solid business case for adoption. Being named Canada’s 12th fastest-growing company in 2018 (#1 in industrial services) is proof positive that their service and approach is right at home with the amazing roster of partners putting their trust in RecycleSmart every day.
Using GPS, cellular IoT, sonar and optical technology, fill and contamination levels in bins can be detected across North America. This ability allows for data to be tracked, displayed and shared. Information which was once based on guesses and best estimates is now captured and recorded. The newly tracked data provides real numbers to apply against waste and recycling rates.
Some of the benefits include: • It allows for bins and waste compactors to be emptied only when full • It reduces the numbers of large trucks on the road – reducing the number of deliveries and shipments to busy loading bays • It reduces costs by paying for collection services as required rather than being based on schedule • It provides access to hard numbers to determine weights and diversion rates • It allows the ability to potentially locate where waste is being generated in the facility.
As of December 31, 2018, the 84 sites working with RecycleSmart in Ontario had realized a total savings of approximately $28,000 per month and had increased their waste diversion rates across the board. As part of the effort to improve diversion, 29 sites received specialized tenant training to increase participation and minimize contamination.
Also, 11 third party waste audits were performed and followed by onsite meetings to review recommendations and implement program improvements. Overall portfolio data coverage had also improved significantly, by nearly 15%.
For 2019, FCR is leaning on RecycleSmart to pilot cigarette butt recycling at 12 properties across Canada with TerraCycle, with plans for a national roll-out later in the year. This was a natural opportunity since RecycleSmart knows FCR properties well and has solid relationships with our property managers and their day-to-day demands. They will also continue to collaborate on improving waste diversion and engaging tenants on the topic of waste & recycling.
Melissa Jacobs is the Director of Sustainability at First Capital Realty Inc.