The city of Surrey, BC, will soon be able to convert its household kitchen and yard waste into renewable natural gas that will fuel its waste collection trucks. The city is calling the project North America’s first closed-loop, fully integrated waste management system. “We’ve reached an exciting and important milestone in our progression towards generating renewable energy from our waste,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner in a press release. Surrey will partner with Iris Solutions to build a biofuel processing facility with a capacity to process 115,000 tonnes of organic waste each year. In addition to natural gas, the facility will produce compost that can be used in landscaping and agriculture. The city estimates that the facility will be up and running by late 2016. Surrey may be developing the largest facility of its kind in Canada, but it’s not the first municipality to think of using organic waste as a renewable resource. The Quebec town of Ste-Hyacinthe has recently announced plans to convert organic food waste to natural gas for use in a fleet of city cars and to heat city buildings. In Alberta, a biodigester that was built to convert manure to biogas for electricity production is now mainly using organic waste from Edmonton. And in 2013, Harvest Power launched its Energy Garden in Richmond, BC. The facility can convert 40,000 tonnes of food and yard waste per year into biogas and compost.
The potential for converting municipal organic waste to renewable energy is growing as more Canadian municipalities divert food waste from landfills. Vancouver now keeps 55 per cent of its organic waste out of landfills. The city only collects garbage on a biweekly basis, while organic waste is collected weekly. As of January 2015, the city’s condo owners are required to separate food scraps from garbage, a policy that already existed for single-family homes. Ottawa also implemented biweekly garbage collection in 2012, and now diverts 40 per cent of its solid waste from landfills. With more policies like these, biogas facilities for municipal waste may become an appealing option for an increasing number of Canadian cities.
The Climate Examiner speaks to BC-based Carbon Engineering about the technology, the business and the policies that could make direct air capture, synfuels and carbon sequestration work.