Hastings Highlands generate RFQ for appliance refrigerant disposal at waste site

The municipality of Hastings Highlands council, at their meeting on Sept. 21, directed staff to generate a request for quotation for a licenced technician/contractor to remove refrigerants from appliances that have been disposed of at the municipality’s East Lake Waste Disposal Site. Operations manager Adrian Tomasini comments on the status of the RFQ, saying he expects to have a deadline for the tenders by the end of October.

At the Sept. 21 council meeting, Mayor Tracy Hagar introduced Tomasini’s report titled “Storage of Residential Household Appliances Containing Refrigerants” to council for consideration. He suggested that council direct staff to proceed to generate a request for quotation for a licenced technician/contractor with a valid Ozone Depletion Prevention certificate to remove these refrigerants from the appliances at the East Lake Waste Disposal Site in a safe, environmentally friendly manner.

Approximately 90 per cent of refrigerant emissions occur at the end of appliances’ life, according to a non-profit that analyzes climate solutions called Project Drawdown. If carefully extracted and stored they can be reused for other purposes and not have otherwise harmful effects on the environment.

Tomasini’s report arose from an April 6 Waste Management Committee meeting where a resolution was struck; that the waste management committee directs the operations manager to investigate temporary storage of appliances containing coolant at a municipal waste site. At that meeting, the committee talked about their concerns about appliances like fridges, air conditioning units, dehumidifiers and similar appliances containing coolant being dumped onto municipal and crown lands and potentially doing environmental harm. They also discussed the need to have resources available to the public to dispose of these appliances in an environmentally safe manner.

According to Tomasini’s report, staff did an investigation into all of Hastings Highlands Waste Site Environmental Compliance Approvals and contacting the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, it was found that these appliances could be stored at the East Lake Waste Disposal Site if they are no longer carrying any refrigerants and that said refrigerants had been removed by a qualified ODS technician so that these products could be recycled safely. Records of these refrigerant removals must be kept on site. Tomasini said that the RFQ, once advertised and bearing interested parties, would be brought back to council along with information about any potential impact to user fees.

Deputy Mayor Dorothy Gerrow thanked Tomasini for his report, and the positive impact it would ultimately have on the environment, with no potential refrigerants leaking from discarded appliances.

“One has to presume that it’s because the items cannot be taken as scrap metal at waste sites or outside waste sites for scrap metal until the refrigerant is removed. So, this would be a solution that would help, making access to a technician that can do this. I’m in full support of staff making a proposal so we can make a decision on what the financial impact would be,” she says.

Councillor Alex Walder had a question regarding costs for the program.

“So, let’s go ahead to the next step and find out those costs,” he says.

Tomasini said that once the RFQ was prepared and the tenders were submitted, they would have a better idea what those costs would be.

Gerrow reiterated the environmental importance of this RFQ, not only precluding scrap metal from ending up being dumped but also refrigerants not leaking out and having deleterious effects on the environment.

“That is good for our environment as it’s been proven. Individuals would have a cost no matter where this was taking place, and they may not be able to readily get this done by a professional that’s able to do it. So, I think being able to offer this program would be important but of course we’ll wait for the next step from our operations manager with the quotations,” she says.

With that comment, the vote was called and council voted to direct staff to generate the RFQ for a licenced technician/contractor to remove refrigerants from appliances that have been disposed of at the municipality’s East Lake Waste Disposal Site.

David Stewart, the CAO/deputy treasurer, asked Tomasini when the RFQ would materialize, and this was his response to The Bancroft Times on Sept. 28.

“I will be working on an RFQ in the next couple of weeks. Typically, I post an RFQ in the local papers and on the municipality’s website for a two-week period,” he says. “I would place a closing proposal date of Oct. 28, 2022.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times