At midnight on June 22, 2009, approximately 24,000 City of Toronto workers went on strike.  Four days into the strike, the City announced it was opening 19 temporary garbage drop-off locations for residential waste.  After 36 days, the strike ended. In a little over a month, 48,900 tonnes of trash had accumulated. What this strike highlighted was just how much trash our modern society generates.

Waste is a polarizing issue.  Waste diversion techniques are being used by most major population centers.  But is it enough?  Municipalities, governments, First Nations, and other public organizations around the globe are increasingly looking for alternatives to address their solid, liquid, oil, and hazardous waste needs. Many communities face landfill usage limitations and high trucking costs to transport municipal solid waste to distant locations.

Many are familiar with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach to managing waste, but IGNITE views the waste process as the 5-R approach of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery, and Residual.

The fourth strategy of the 5-R approach, Recovery, means to recover as much material and/or energy from the solid waste stream as possible through the application of technology. The Recovery strategy views waste not as something to be discarded, but as a valuable resource to the community. Through proven technologies known as Waste-to-Energy facilities, a variety of different types of waste can be turned into bio-diesel, thermal heat, or even electrical power. Technologies have advanced, so Waste-to-Energy facilities can be safely operated onsite within communities with no harmful emissions.

Residuals management, which is the fifth and final strategy of the 5-R approach, means to provide safe and effective waste disposal. This is the least effective strategy of dealing with waste. It does not deal with the waste, it just buries it.

To learn more about the 5-Rs, contact IGNITE.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

― Elon Musk

As the Secrets were being developed, it was discovered all the barriers to infrastructure development mentioned in “The Overview” could be resolved by focusing on two questions:

  • Who should serve as the Asset Champion?
  • What format do you roll out any infrastructure planning process?

Asset Champion

As the Secrets evolved, the attributes for the Asset Champion evolved with it. The Asset Champion needs to:

  • Be unbiased and consistent in all its interactions with ALL stakeholders to the infrastructure asset
  • Treat all stakeholders to an asset with an even-hand
  • Focus on providing the best solution without bias for technology
  • Supervise the testing and design of all technology solutions without bias
  • Have an extensive background in development, design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets.
  • Perform all development, design, build, finance, operation, and maintenance without bias to any one stakeholder or solution.
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to the successful implementation of any infrastructure plan, knowing the time frame for oversite could extend for up to 30 or more years
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to work with government regulators
  • Have the time, knowledge, and capacity to commit to search, source, and work with a variety and types of funding alternatives


Format for Rollout

The format had to provide an environment which could:

  • Provide oversite to an infrastructure asset for its full useful life. This could extend up to 30 or more years
  • Bring the brightest minds together to solve complex infrastructure problems in a non-competitive manner
  • Facilitate the numerous transactions to an asset in a transparent and timely manner
  • Facilitate the ongoing monitoring and feedback mechanisms necessary to maximize the performance of an asset for its full useful life without bias
  • Provide procurement processes customized for each public sector organization, which satisfies all necessary bylaws, regulations, and procedures of that organization.
  • Facilitate flexible and attractive funding alternatives to a variety of asset types and sizes
  • Facilitate attractive pricing for contractors and vendors, which not available anywhere else
  • Facilitate project results on-time and under budget
  • Facilitate and encourage continual improvement in process, risk mitigation, and asset sustainability


Potential Solutions

Even if a public sector organization finds ways to overcome the limitations of “silo-effect” problem solving, most organizations still lack the experience and understanding of infrastructure to be able to effectively make risk mitigation and sustainability plans.  They also lack the in-house experience with infrastructure projects to be able to simplify the process down into smaller “bite-size” components to make decisions faster and easier. For so many reasons, an in-house Asset Champion does not satisfy the rigorous requirements to manage these assets for up to 30 years.


Many people who have construction project experience may think that an engineer or general contractor could fulfill at least the Asset Champion role.  Unfortunately, their perspective is much too limiting. As both engineers and contractors are part of for-profit entities hired by a stakeholder to the project, an engineer or general contractor will have competing objectives to many of the stakeholders to the infrastructure asset and will not be able to remain unbiased.  For a variety of reasons, the engineer and general contractor cannot fulfill the numerous rigorous requirements necessary for implementing the 6 Secrets.


IGNITE Infrastructure Association

Historically, for-profit entities such as consultants and large contracting firms have dominated infrastructure, which are for-profit entities. The mandate of for-profit entities is to make profit, which is not always in alignment with the best interest of taxpayers and other stakeholders to an infrastructure asset.

As research into the 6 Secrets evolved, it became clear the two questions could be satisfied with one solution. An independent, member-based, nonprofit known as IGNITE Infrastructure Association Inc was created to act as the Asset Champion and the mechanism to roll-out the infrastructure plan. Only a member-based, nonprofit entity, whose sole focus was infrastructure assets, could satisfy these very rigorous requirements.

The mandate of IGNITE focuses on performing all activities solely to serve its members. Its members are the public sector organizations and the organizations which work with infrastructure such as engineers, funders, vendors, and contractors. IGNITE acts as the “glue” between government departments and other stakeholders. As it is the purpose of IGNITE to serve all its members fairly, it treats all these stakeholders to an infrastructure plan with an even-hand. Using this approach, the public sector organization aligns much better with taxpayer needs of maximizing value and minimizing cost. Only a nonprofit entity avoids conflict of interest and can treat all parties with an even hand.

These secrets were developed, field-tested, and proven to work during the last 10 years. Check out more information on IGNITE.

The Secrets: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Although the primary focus of IGNITE is future-proofing member infrastructure, sometimes situations arise where IGNITE can also help future-proof the member’s social infrastructure.

As it is IGNITE’s mandate to serve its members, it often does so by providing solutions members require.  Sometimes situations arise where IGNITE can help a member fix mechanical process flow or simply find a solution to a complex infrastructure problem. IGNITE is often approached by an organization with a seemingly unsolvable challenge. Alternatively, the challenge may appear impossible because of high costs.