Latest News

Oshawa, Durham lags in recycling aggregates

Study from Toronto and Area Road Builders Association ranks city second last, region fourth last out of 20 GTA municipalities.

A recent study by the Toronto and Area Road Builders Association has labelled The City of Oshawa and Durham Region as lagging behind in recycling aggregate materials such as concrete and asphalt. (Wikipedia photo)

Oshawa and Durham Region have been placed at the bottom of the heap when it comes to recycling asphalt and concrete in the GTA.

A study commissioned and released by the Toronto and Area Road Builders Association (TARBA) placed Durham 17th and Oshawa 19th out of 20 municipalities. The study identified Oshawa and Durham as “laggards” when it came to recycling materials.

Oshawa was given an overall score of 10 out a possible 100. Only Mississauga was lower, scoring a four out of 100.

Research for the study was conducted in July and August, and examines the aggregate recycling practices of five regional and 15 single or lower-tier municipalities.

According to TARBA, Oshawa was one of five municipalities that declined to respond to its survey, but information was received from another source. Others were Guelph, Vaughan, Oakville and Brantford.

The rest of Durham Region did perform much better, receiving a score of 20 out of 100. The top three municipalities were Toronto (76), Cambridge (72) and Markham (64).

According to TARBA, municipalities are the largest consumers of new aggregate in the province, using between 60 and 70 million tonnes a year. In all, about 184 tonnes tonnes of aggregate materials such as asphalt and concrete are used each year in Ontario. Of that amount, only about seven per cent (13 million tonnes) comes from recycled sources.

The Ministry of Transportation uses about 20 per cent recycled aggregate on the province’s highways, while some European countries use more than 20 per cent.

Rob Bradford, executive director of TARBA says municipalities were graded on 15 different key indicators related to aggregate recycling.

“In each, we asked the municipality whether it allows it completely or partially, and they received a point for each of those responses,” he says.

To Bradford, Oshawa “simply falls into the category of those who do not allow it.

“The only reason they got a few points is because they allow a bit of [recycled] material into their new hot mix,” he adds.

As to why some municipalities are behind, Bradford says it could be a number of reasons but he believes it is due to misconceptions.

“There’s a perception that reused material isn’t as good as the new material. That brings questions about performance,” he says. “Like with any material, any given engineer could point out a time in the past that it didn’t work as well as it should have.”

TARBA says benefits for municipalities in using recycled materials include shorter hauls for major construction projects leading to lower emissions and wear and tear, keeping aggregate out of waste streams, easing pressure to develop and expand quarry operations, and building more sustainable infrastructure.

Local contractors are seeing their stockyards filled with aggregate and are being forced to send them to landfills.

“They are taking up space. You reach a capacity at some point,” he says.

Bradford is hopeful their message comes in loud and clear.

“This is not going to be the last [study]. We are going to come back next year and go to the same municipalities and say, ‘Please tell us you’ve given your head a shake.’”

In the past, TARBA tried to reach out to municipalities, but according to Bradford, had little success.

“We’d deliver PowerPoint presentations that didn’t get us anywhere with the people who weren’t open-minded to trying something they hadn’t tried before,” he says. “It really should be a municipal imperative. They speak a good ball game about being green, and this is a perfect opportunity to divert waste from different landfills.”