According to the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), between 20-25 million cubic metres of excess soil are being excavated annually from construction sites across Ontario.
The landfilling of this soil puts more trucks on the road increasing greenhouse gas emissions and fills landfills more quickly.
“Our current dig-and-dump practice in Ontario is just not sustainable,” said Andy Manahan, executive director of RCCAO.
A recent RCCAO study stated that landfilling excavated soil increases costs upwards of 15 per cent for road, sewer and water, public transit and other infrastructure projects, or up to $1.7 billion annually.
To help counter the landfilling of soils, the RCCAO has proposed a few alternatives, including an online soil matching service. The soil matching service would assist in connecting generators and receivers of excess
construction soils and facilitate transfers between them.
The service would be modeled after an initiative between the private sector and the government in the United Kingdom, where it is recognized that some soils can be re-used or remediated.
The RCCAO stated that the majority of excavated soils in Ontario are currently treated as brownfield sites and considered unsuitable for re-use.
Brownfield sites are the only soils currently regulated in the province.
Liability concerns have led some municipalities to apply the Ministry of Enivronment’s regulations regarding brownfield sites to all excavated soils, which has resulted in the restricting or banning of excavated soils from
outside their jurisdiction.
The RCCAO also proposed the further development of soil recycling centres and “a transparent process that produces a Materials Management Plan (MMP) for the handling of non-waste excess soils tied to the remediation and/or development plans for the site involved.”
Manahan said the RCCAO's proposals are designed to provide suggested guidance with respect to the handling of soil from non-contaminated sites.
“The main objective is to reduce the amount of excess construction soil being shipped to landfill, and to do so in a way that is consistent with regulatory requirements of producing no adverse effect on human health or
the environment,” he said.
The RCCAO stated it plans to field test its proposals and to further refine its best management practices.
For more information on the RCCAO and its initiatives, click here.
Source: Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario.