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Look to the environment for business opportunities, advises provincial minister.

The environment industry is one of the fastest growing industrial sectors, and there are more opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to get into the act, says provincial Environment Minister Ruth Grier.

Grier predicts that the environmental sector will help create opportunities for manufacturers through development of new products and processes, and that researchers, educational institutions and retailers will respond to the growing concern of consumers about the environment.

"Consumers are becoming more conscious of the need for a clean and safe environment, and as consumers ask those kind of questions (about products) companies will react to it. There is a growing awareness. Everyone wants to do the right thing," Grier says.

She adds that her ministry has been helping a number of entrepreneurs with funding for research and by co-operating in pilot projects in areas such as tire recycling, oil recycling and reclamation of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from refrigeration equipment for recycling.

However, she insists that there remain many opportunities for development.

"We have just scratched the surface," acknowledges Grier. "I think there are enormous opportunities in regard to separation of materials as more things are added to the blue box program."

Approximately 10 million metric tons of solid waste is produced in the province annually of which 60 per cent is from the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sectors.

While Ontario's blue box program has received international recognition, the focus on waste reduction has only recently broadened to the ICI sector.

Grier is proposing to require that Ontario's businesses audit their waste and put together their own action plans under proposed changes to the Environmental Protection Act expected to be enacted early this year.

Sectors affected by the legislation include construction and demolition businesses, educational institutions, food service establishments, hotels and motels, healthcare facilities, manufacturing businesses, multi-unit residential dwellings, office buildings and retail shopping complexes.

These businesses will be required to implement source separation of recyclables, conduct waste audits and implement work plans to maximize waste diversion from disposal.

The audits and work plans must be updated yearly. The work plan must also be on display and on file for checks by ministry officials.

Northern Ontario companies will have more time to comply than those in the south. As well, smaller companies will be added at some time in the future. Requirements for comprehensive environmental audits examining water and energy consumption will also be required eventually.

In Sudbury, the New Sudbury Shopping Centre is getting ahead of the game by collecting not only merchants' recyclable material but those of its customers as well.

Dennis Pelletier, the mall's marketing director, says the program is being initiated by the mall's owner, Cambridge Shopping Centres Limited.

Located in the mall are large boxes collecting recyclable goods such as newspapers, pop cans and styrofoam products.

Pelletier says the mall will also be instituting a coffee mug program to woo consumers away from foam cups.

He admits the program is not profitable, but it does promote the mall as reflecting the concerns of its customers by being publicly conscious of the environment.

"We are really into a situation where we have to go through a lot of changes (customer service and consumer trends). We have to get more involved and it is important for us to get involved in the environment to a certain extent," explains Pelletier.

One problem area for malls is that cardboard shipping containers create a high volume of waste. "A large percentage of our waste is corrugated cardboard. It's recyclable, but the cost to ship to a plant in southern Ontario is too much," he confesses.

However, a corrugated cardboard collection service has recently been added by Sudbury Region.

Prior to December of 1992 the region did not pick up corrugated cardboard. Now, Laidlaw Waste Systems Ltd., operator of the city's recycling depot, has started collecting from the ICI sector.

Louis Moustgaard, director of engineering and construction for the Regional Municipality of Sudbury, estimates that 3,500 metric tons of cardboard waste is produced in the region by the ICI sector alone.

Denis Dignard, operation supervisor for Laidlaw in Sudbury, says that when the company took over the region's operation in April of last year it added cardboard along with fine office paper.

Collection of fine paper and cardboard boxes is only available to the ICI sector, but Dignard stresses that anyone bringing the material to the depot will find it gladly accepted.

Grier praised the efforts of Cambridge and the New Sudbury Centre.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Report on Energy & the Environment; Ontario Environment Minister Ruth Grier
Author:Brown, Stewart
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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