Cleaning up by cleaning up

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Courtesy of OZONATOR Industries Limited

Historically, some big businesses have made big messes. Greenhouse gas emissions, oil spills and unsafe water have become unsavoury but all-too-commonplace topics in the news and industry is beginning to sit up and take notice.

Within the past couple of decades, businesses have been cropping up in Saskatchewan with the goal of cleaning up others’ messes - or simply keeping a mess from happening in the first place. Some of them are turning a pretty good profit in the process. And that isn’t something that’s likely to change, according to those involved in the field.

Vern Corbett, head of several SIAST programs including environmental engineering technology, said former students have gone on to find work in the environmental field - something he expected to see continue.

“In terms of prospects for that type of industry, they can only expand …,” he said. “I would say it’s probably the strong natural resource base that we have and I think that industry is experiencing some growth. The mining and oil and all that type of thing, it’s not going to slow down.”

 “We don’t see any softening of the market for people with environmental employment …,” agreed Grant Trump, president of the Environmental Careers Organization Canada. “There’s a greater public awareness of environmental issues … and I don’t think these environmental issues are going to subside.”

Trump said statistics show Saskatchewan environmental employment - jobs with an environmental component to them - increased nine per cent between 2000 and 2002. While the number of environment-based businesses did not grow dramatically, total jobs increased, as did revenues by 2.5 per cent.

 “It appears as though we’ve got about the same number of companies employing more people, but doing a lot more business …,” noted Trump. “(The environment) really has a direct impact on a lot of the ways in which provinces including Saskatchewan are looking at economic diversification. So we turn to look at it as the business of the environment, because it is a business.”

Peter Klaptchuk’s Regina-based business Ozonator Industries - a branch of Sanitec Canada - is one of those businesses, on the cusp of success with its biohazardous waste treatment technology. The Ozonator Industries president and chief executive officer said Sanitec got off the ground in 1998 as a way to deal with biohazards, something Klaptchuk knows a lot about with a 30-year history in dealing with biohazardous waste.

 “We’re having our kids and our grandkids and we’re realizing that we can only dump on Mother Nature so much - and we’ve been doing a pretty good job of dumping on her …,” said Klaptchuk. “Getting back to our Ozonator project, the millions of tons of greenhouse gases that we can take out of the air with this process is just phenomenal.”

The made-in-Regina Ozonator technology uses ozone gas to disinfect and dispose of biohazardous waste. The material decays when treated with ozone, leaving only oxygen as a byproduct, explained Klaptchuk.

This technology is ideal for treating biohazardous waste generated by the health-care industry, he said - waste that is now frequently burned, creating greenhouse gases.

 “For every ton of waste you burn, you generate a ton of (carbon dioxide) greenhouse gases …,” said Klaptchuk. “One of the driving forces behind making this new technology, this Ozonator, is that our technology can be taken and put right in the back door of a hospital.”

While Sanitec’s market base is in Saskatchewan, currently all Ozonator Industries deals are outside of Saskatchewan. Earlier this year, the company won the approval of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a major breakthrough for the Ozonator. Klaptchuk is hoping Saskatchewan businesses will soon catch on.

“We’re used to in Saskatchewan - and in other provinces here in Canada - to using heat to sterilize biohazards, and what happens is we’re kind of stuck in that rut, and when new technology comes along, it’s hard for us to accept it,” said Klaptchuk. “What’s really driving our technology, the Ozonator technology, in other countries is the fact that it has no emissions. And not only does it have no emissions, but things like when you incinerate medical waste, that’s the No. 1 generator of dioxins in the world. And dioxins have been a known carcinogenic for years.”

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