November at-a-glance…environment

NAFEM developing program to comply with Quebec recycling/reclamation

Work is in process to respond to the six-month “tolerance” granted by Quebec’s Ministry of Environment and Fight Against Climate Change (MOE) for the industry to comply with the province’s new recycling/reclamation legislation that takes effect Dec. 5.

“NAFEM maintains the rule is based on the domestic market and does not address how the commercial foodservice industry goes to market and decommissions equipment at the end of life,” said NAFEM’s Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs Charlie Souhrada, CFSP. “NAFEM is working with industry stakeholders to outline the differences and will use the information to develop a realistic commercial program with the Ministry.”

The new rule requires that sellers have or be a member of a program that allows products to be returned to the seller or a designated recycler that will certify products are recycled in an approved manner. It applies to refrigerators, freezers, refrigerated vending machines, ice machines, food displays, dairy bar equipment, cooling cells, beverage centers and beverage coolers. It does not include used appliances or anything heavier than 300 kilograms or 660 pounds, walk-ins, or products that are less than 2.5 cubic feet.

Producer responsibility laws similar to the Quebec regulation that encourages a circular economy, also are under consideration in British Columbia and Ontario. NAFEM is closely monitoring this situation. It’s likely that some U.S. states are considering similar legislation.

COP26 spotlights changing energy economy

This year’s U.N. Climate Change Conference began Oct. 31 in Glasgow, and although slated to conclude on Nov. 12, ran over an extra day as delegates struggled to agree on the language around reducing the use of fossil fuels and subsidies to help poorer nations fund efforts to address climate change. At the conference’s conclusion, an agreement was reached by the 197 nations in attendance to “phase down” the use of coal, rather than “phase out”, which was opposed by India. The agreement also includes language around moving away from fossil fuel subsidies. Countries left Glasgow with a request to come to the 2022 COP27 in Egypt with plans for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The Conference of Parties (COP26) of countries that signed the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, brought together more than 100 world leaders plus those representing nonprofit organizations (NGOs), businesses and governments from more than 200 countries.

The overarching work at this and previous COP meetings focused on cutting carbon emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Climate Action Tracker estimates that with the new emission reduction pledges, the world is on track for 2.4 degrees of warming by 2030.

This year, more than 40 countries pledged to phase out coal power plants by the 2030s in major economies and 2040s in smaller economies. The U.S., India, China and Australia did not sign the accord. The U.S. generates approximately 20 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants.

Earlier in the Conference, the U.S. and China agreed to cooperate and accelerate their efforts to reduce emissions to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The two parties stated their intent to hold future meetings to determine details.

The U.S. also agreed to end financing unabated oil, gas and coal plants in other countries that discharge pollution directly into the air by the end of 2022.

“While COP agreements are not binding, they do put significant pressure on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as it considers future energy policy,” said Jeff Longsworth, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. “From a longer-term perspective, we should plan for more expensive electricity and increasing energy-efficiency standards.”

Also at COP26, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced Net Zero World. Through Net Zero World, countries will work with the U.S. and with DOE’s 17 national laboratories and private entities to create and implement programs that put net zero emissions within reach. Founding partners of Net Zero World are Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ukraine, with more countries expected to join. The initiative supports the portion of the Paris Agreement that calls for wealthier nations to provide financing and technology to help poor and more vulnerable countries achieve emission-reduction goals.