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What’s going on with the composting facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre?

Nov 23, 2018

Christopher Wood, ENVS Student

Composting is an important strategy designed to divert waste from landfill, or incineration. The Anaerobic Digestion Facility (ADF) in Edmonton’s Waste Management Centre is stated as being the ‘largest of its kind in North America.’ The facility opened in 2000[1], with the goal to divert over 50% of waste from landfill[2]. The facility was closed on October 26th 2017 due to the roof rotting “from the heat and chemicals in the composting facility. It was closed over the winter season due to the possibility of heavy snow and the potential of a roof collapse, making it a safety risk for staff and contractors.”[3] Currently, the waste facility is not able to meet its goals of reducing waste going to landfill, because “all food waste in Edmonton is being sent to the landfill until the ADF is repaired”[4]

The Waste Management’s website states that the facility processed up to 48,000 tons of organic waste per year, created renewable energy in the form of electricity and heat, produced high quality compost for use in agriculture and horticulture, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and removed odours created during the process by using bio filters.[5] News outlets, such as Global News, were saying that a report finds Edmonton’s composter building cannot be saved, but on the Edmonton Waste Management’s website it says that “the ADF is scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2018.”[6] I phoned the cities information line (311) and asked about the facility, and the information I received was that ‘the facility is still under reconstruction with no set date for reopening.’

Neil Burkard, the Public Education Specialist at the Waste Management Centre in Edmonton, said “it is an exciting time for the operators and engineers of the Waste Management Centre as the ADF is currently in its first stages of reopening. The facility is now undergoing the hot commissioning process and during this time, plans are made to move the facility into ongoing operation.” He also added that safety is the number one priority of The City of Edmonton and its contractors will ensure the safety, quality, and efficiencies of the operation before it is officially operating.  This is great news as the city will be able to get back on track with its goals of diverting over 50% of composted waste from landfill.

Due to the temporary closure of the facility, and the set back that occurred, it is important that each individual and businesses operating in the city continue to do their best to reduce their waste and continue to follow the basic four R’s - Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, and Refuse. Operation of the ADF is a vital component to the objective to reduce waste that is going to landfill. The Edmonton Waste Management Centre is viewed all over the world as a leader in its waste management systems. The roof decay was an unexpected problem, but the centre was able to resolve the issue and will continue to show the world why it is still one of the best Waste Management facilities in the world.

 

[1] History of Waste Management in Edmonton – City of Edmonton https://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/garbage_waste/about-history.aspx

[2] Anaerobic Digestion Facility – City of Edmonton https://www.edmonton.ca/projects_plans/waste_drainage/anaerobic-digestion-facility.aspx

[3] Scott Johnson - Report finds Edmonton’s composter building cannot be saved – Global News. Published April 19th 2018 https://globalnews.ca/news/4156234/edmonton-composter-unsafe-facility/

[4] All Edmonton food waste diverted to landfill after structural problems found at compost site – CBC News. Published October 31st 2017. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/councillors-closing-compost-facility-1.4381325

[5] Anaerobic Digestion Facility

[6] Edmonton Composting Facility – Edmonton Waste Management. https://www.edmonton.ca/projects_plans/waste_drainage/anaerobic-digestion-facility.aspx

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