February 23, 2010 | General

Compost Canada: Forward Movement On Organics Diversion

BioCycle February 2010, Vol. 51, No. 2, p. 37
Susan Antler

These winter months have been anything but static in the composting, organics recycling and anaerobic digestion world in Canada. Since 2010 began, we’ve seen forward movement on organics diversion on a number of fronts.
First is the province of Quebec. Spurred by funding from the federal Green Infrastructure Fund and Quebec’s Programme de traitement des matières organiques par biométhanisation et compostage, Québec City, Rivière-du-Loup and the Greater Montréal Area recently announced their intent to move forward with both anaerobic digestion and composting to manage their organics residuals.
The Québec City program, valued at $57 million, is focused on construction of an anaerobic digestion facility for food waste from the residential and business sectors. A composting facility also will be built to transform the digestate to compost. An annual throughput of 85,000 metric tons is estimated.
Rivière-du-Loup’s program, valued at $14.7 million, will manage an estimated 20,000 metric tons/year of source separated organics from businesses and residents utilizing anaerobic digestion. Greater Montreal’s initiative, valued at $559 million, involves four specific projects, all focused on organics recovery.
For Montreal itself, two anaerobic digestion facilities will be constructed along with two composting centers, as well as a pilot pretreatment project. The initiatives in Longueil, Laval and Montreal’s South Shore have yet to finalize their processing choice or site location. Those matters will be the focus of discussions in the near term with construction to begin in 2011 and the recovery programs becoming operational by 2014.

Another development is the emergence of a new player in the compostable packaging arena who is making a considerable amount of noise with its introduction. SunChips, a multigrain snack from Frito Lay Canada (a division of PepsiCo), announced the introduction of the world’s first 100 percent compostable chip bag. Some product sizes (225g and 425g) will start appearing in the Canadian marketplace in late March. The remainder of the package sizes will be introduced in August 2010.
Certified through the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), the bag is made from PLA (polylactic acid) and according to the SunChips’ launch materials, “will change the way Canadians hear, see and think about product packaging in the future.” There is definitely no chance of “sneaking” this snack. The package crinkles “loudly,” reflective of the PLA material not being as soft at room temperatures as traditional chip bags.
The packaging research and development that led to this design has been four years in the making, involving a technology to enable the three layers of the snack food packaging – printed outer layer for graphics, an inner layer which serves as a barrier for product integrity and middle layer that links the other two layers together – to be compostable while ensuring product quality. Testing for compostability was conducted through Soil Control Lab as well as Woods End Research Laboratory.
SunChips intends to submit an application for certification under the compostable standard set out by the Standards Council of Canada, once the specifications and certification protocol are finalized through the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (public comment period ends February 26, 2010; The brand’s compostable packaging introduction builds on environmental sustainability programs already undertaken by Frito Lay Canada.
“As packaging is the most visible interaction that consumers have with our brand and in order to continue to reduce our environmental impact as a company, we needed to find more sustainable packaging solutions,” says Marc Guay, President of Frito Lay Canada. “Using plant-based renewable materials for our packaging represents the next small step in our journey of sustainability, our journey to net zero.”
Considerable space is being devoted to the compostable claim on the SunChips’ packaging to help with consumer awareness, extensive consumer advertising and website presence ( Additional outreach is being undertaken to work with local composting initiatives across the country to enable the packaging to be included in green bin programs wherever possible.


The Compost Council of Canada (CCC) has announced its theme for Compost Week 2010: S.O.S. (Save Our Soils) … COMPOST ! Whether through backyard, on-site and centralized composting or anaerobic digestion, all organic residual recovery roads lead to the production and utilization of compost. As such, the theme for CCC’s 15th anniversary of Compost Awareness Week – May 2-8, 2010 – in Canada will focus on the importance of compost to soil’s vitality and fertility. Our S.O.S. message will be delivered through posters (as shown in this column) as well as local gardening and compost sampling events. The week will kick off our Plant a Row — Grow a Row food gardening campaign where people will be encouraged to plant an extra row of vegetables, sharing the harvest with neighbors in need. Special “Compost Garden Parties” will be hosted by compost programs across Canada featuring Jane’s Party, a “folk-pop” band who has signed on with CCC to “spread the compost” message.

Susan Antler is Executive Director of the Compost Council of Canada, which is gearing up to start its 20th Anniversary celebrations in 2010.

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