GFL’s Delta, British Columbia, liquid waste facility recycles an impressive 94 percent of all the materials they receive.
Not only that, they also turn recycled materials into product, including a premium line of recycled antifreeze products that are sold under the brand name Ecofreez™.
“We see ourselves as a true recycling facility like an MRF [materials recovery facility] but with hazardous material,” said Daniel Chau, district manager. “We are one of the few operations within GFL that truly manufactures upcycled product, like our Ecofreez line.”
The Delta facility is the only location in British Columbia that recycles used antifreeze, used oil filters, and used plastic containers of antifreeze, oil and other fluids, all in one place.
Currently, the Delta facility has the capacity to recycle up to 2.4 million liters of used antifreeze a year which they receive or collect from the entire province of British Columbia and receive from Washington State.
Jeremy Smith, operations manager at the Delta facility, was heavily involved in the complex process that pioneered antifreeze recycling in British Columbia.
“We worked with BCUOMA [BC Used Oil Management Association] to build the machines and create the criteria to be able to recycle,” Smith said, “so we worked hand in hand to develop the program to get antifreeze off the street and into our recycling facility.”
Under the BCUOMA stewardship program, used antifreeze is collected from auto dealerships, repair shops, lube centers and farm yards for recycling. The Ecofreez recycled products are then purchased by the same customers, as well as commercial vehicles, fleets of vehicles such as transit buses, and government and retail operations in Canada, thus closing the loop of this circular economy.
The environment benefits when used antifreeze is recycled over and over again, which helps reduce the risk of it being dumped where it can contaminate landfills, soil and groundwater.
Another environmental benefit is that the recycling process saves energy. It takes only 20 percent of the energy to recycle and produce Ecofreez antifreeze products than it does from virgin ethylene glycol, a base component of automotive antifreeze.
To accomplish this important recycling work, Chau credits GFL’s dedicated employees who contribute a variety of skills and knowledge every day.
Running the facility successfully involves collecting used materials, helping clients with the technical aspects of handling hazardous waste at their locations, operating and maintaining the equipment, delivering recycled products, and providing customer service and administration functions.
“I look at Delta as a business center for the Lower Mainland, rather than a stand-alone process facility,” Chau said.
When the collected antifreeze arrives at the facility, it undergoes processing using a state-of-the-art automated vacuum distillation/ de-ionization unit that removes all the contaminants, such as chlorides and sulfites. This returns the recycled antifreeze to its original state, virtually identical to virgin ethylene glycol.
The Delta facility blends its Ecofreez products with a proprietary formulation of corrosion inhibitors to create high-quality blends that meet or exceed international standards to be safer for the environment.
Ethylene glycol tastes sweet, but it’s extremely toxic, so a colorless bittering agent called Bitrex™ is added to the antifreeze to discourage animals and people from accidentally ingesting it.
Along with recycling antifreeze, the Delta facility also receives oil filters from the same sources in British Columbia that contribute the used antifreeze. The facility recycles roughly 100 drums of oil filters each day or 250,000 oil filters each month and has the capacity to recycle more.
A large amount of oil is extracted from the oil filters, tested and cleaned before being sent to GFL’s refinery in North Vancouver, which receives about 1.1 to 1.2 million liters of oil from Delta each month.
“The oil filters are then classified as scrap steel, so we send that to a steel yard in Richmond, British Columbia,” Smith said. “The steel is then shipped to a big steel mill in Washington State where it’s added to their scrap steel mix and smelted back down into metal ingots.”
The facility also recycles various types of contaminated plastics, such as containers for used oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. The used oil or other liquid is removed, then the plastic containers are granulated into flakes which are sent to a local plant where they’re further melted down and turned into pellets that are used to make new plastic products.
“Currently, the majority of oil containers in the entire province come here,” Smith said, “and that’s equivalent to filling BC Place Stadium [located in Vancouver with a seating capacity of 54,500 people] with empty containers twice a year.”
As well as the oil and antifreeze containers they recycle under the BCUOMA program, the Delta facility currently recycles plastics from the farming community, mining labs and painting industries, among others.
“Our team is contributing as best we can to lower our environmental footprint,” Smith said.
“The Delta facility will continue to strive to be a leader in recycling in British Columbia,” he said.
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