18 Jun 2019 |
Research article |
Sustainable Development, the Circular Economy and Environmental Issues
Plastics Management in Quebec
The author had an opportunity to participate in the Americana Environmental forum and International trade show for environmental technologies, held March 26, 27, and 28 in Montreal, with the support of the AéÉTS Sustainable Development Fund (FDDAÉÉTS). Americana is organized by Réseau Environnement and is a must for all professionals in the environmental sector. It offers a wide range of presentations and a trade show. This article presents the author’s impressions following the event.
Reference Istock.com. Copyright.
Participation Guided by Research Interests
As a PhD student in environmental engineering under the direction of Professor Mathias Glaus, I am working on issues related to the environmental performance assessment of industrial symbiosis (one of the strategies in implementing a circular economy). My participation in the forum therefore focused on presentations on circular economy, managing residual materials—specifically plastics—topics that will be the object of case studies in my research work.
Circular Economy: Still some Way to Go
Speakers representing Québec, Canada, and the United States reviewed the progress made in implementing circular initiatives in their respective areas. This was an opportunity to present an overview of the different platforms created to bring together the various stakeholders in circular economy (in Québec, Québec Circulaire).
The panel had the merit of highlighting project initiatives and organizations, but remained fairly general and global. I have been interested in this subject for a few years now, but perhaps due to a lack of political will to promote this type of practice, I feel that very little progress has been made. There are several areas in Quebec implementing projects of great interest at the local level and these may be worth promoting at such events.
Management of Residual Materials in Quebec: Issues and Projects
Representatives from Recyc-Québec presented the preliminary data to be officially published in the next Bilan de gestion des matières résiduelles (Residual Materials Assessment Report), planned for this summer, making it possible for me to collect recent data on residual materials at the provincial level.
Recyc-Québec and several Quebec municipalities (Laval, Montréal, Gatineau) are working on projects aimed, for example, at evaluating the results of incentive policies or optimizing the organization of waste collection areas. I was very interested in these presentations because they gave me more specific information on how communities work and presented scientific research methods. In addition, it was interesting to hear of follow-ups in an event where the assessment of implemented measures was seldom mentioned, despite its importance.
Plastics: Recycling Challenges as a Source of Innovation
Obviously, the presentations on plastics all mentioned the “plastic continent” now well known to the general public. This, coupled with the difficulties of recycling plastics and limiting the types of plastics that can be recycled (mainly plastics #1 and #2) has elicited many initiatives designed to alleviate the shortcomings of the plastic waste management sector. During the various presentations on recovering materials, recycling new materials, or circular recycling, I was able to gain a more global vision of the stakeholders in the plastics sector as professionals came to present their own activities. Companies like Loop Industries are standing apart from the “traditional” recycling sector in order to recover waste from sorting centres and recycle plastics usually removed.
What I wanted from this event was to gain a broader knowledge of the stakeholders in the plastics management sector. In this respect, my goal was achieved.
Americana is an opportunity for people seeking employment or for workers who wish to expand their network. In addition, exposure to specialists in the environmental field, from all sectors (water, air, residual materials…), can be a stepping stone to more interprofessional collaboration.
Enora Barrau is a PhD student in environmental engineering in the Department of Construction Engineering at ÉTS. Her work focuses on territorial-based initiatives in industrial ecology and the environmental assessment of these practices.
Program : Environmental Engineering
Research laboratories : Steppe - Experimental Station for Pilot Processes in the Environment (STEPPE)