21-Jan-2022

GFL: Changing Waste Management for a Sustainable Future

GFL is a leading Canadian-based provider of sustainable services and solutions that revolve around efficient waste diversion initiatives at a reasonable cost. GFL is a one-stop shop service provider of all its customers’ needs. Early in the company’s history its focus was on finding environmental solutions geared towards diversion from landfills. Since its founding in 2007, GFL has continuously grown and developed to become a leader in virtually every division it operates in, with a focus on being Green for Life and helping customers meet their sustainability goals.

GFL offers many solutions to support this focus with one of the most prominent being material recycling facilities (MRFs). These facilities utilise many different types of technologies ranging from AI powered optical sorters to mechanical separation. These technologies are important because packaging and other recyclable waste is continuously evolving, and there is a need to ensure that there is flexibility within operations to accommodate these changes and return as much material as possible into the resource stream. These facilities contribute to a circular economy and provide producers and clients the materials needed to input recycled content into new products. This recycled content will replace virgin products, whether that is virgin fibre or virgin plastic resins. GFL is continuously upgrading its MRFs and the technologies within to continue to reduce its customers carbon footprint and lower overall greenhouse gas emissions.

In the province of Ontario, Canada, organics constitute around 25 to 30 percent of the residential waste stream. Decomposing organics can generate significant methane emissions in landfills. GFL is acting to reduce the amount of methane gas that is generated by diverting organic waste from landfills into dedicated aerobic composting operations which produces relatively low levels of methane. Not only does this have a direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it also provides customers with a sense of connection as everyone generates food waste which can be converted into compost. This compost is then used to grow new foods, creating a circular connection between food waste and food production.

Despite GFL’s best efforts, not all organic material can be diverted from landfills. At many of GFL’s landfill facilities, including one in Moose Creek, Ontario, landfill gas is used to generate green energy in the form of electricity that is introduced to the grid. This is done by capturing landfill gas in the landfills where methane is generated. That gas is used to fuel turbines to generate renewable electricity.

GFL is continuously looking for new uses for captured landfill gas which led to the recent formation of GFL Renewables. This is a new line of business which is taking GFL’s captured landfill gas and investing in plants that process that landfill gas into renewable natural gas. This renewable natural gas is then introduced into the North American supply and is used as a replacement for the traditional fossil fuels and virgin natural gas. Through GFL Renewables, GFL will have the capability to create a cradle-to-grave solution to potentially fuel the company’s vehicles which are currently running on compressed natural gas.

The future of the waste industry will be solely focused on creating sustainable solutions for customers' waste needs. A need exists today to find different ways to tackle climate change and discover new ways to divert as many waste streams as possible from landfills. Customers are asking for a way to make waste management as sustainable as possible and GFL can provide these solutions. GFL is contributing to a circular economy and working towards a more sustainable solution for all.

GFL Environmental’s vision is to be Green for Life, just as simple as that.

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