March 23, 2010 | General

Organic (Residuals) Resources Winning The Gold

BioCycle March 2010, Vol. 51, No. 3, p. 61
Compost Canada
CANADIAN hearts and pride from coast-to-coast were stirred as the world was welcomed to the Winter Olympics on our home soil. For a people who are more-often-than-not understated, the words of “O Canada” were shouted with pride, uniting regions and provinces as one.

This perhaps newly-found national unity has been a long-time undercurrent of our compost family in Canada where our collective belief in the value of organic residuals resources has propelled environmental and economic initiatives forward over the past two decades. In his closing remarks, Vanoc’s (Vancouver Olympic Committee) CEO, John Furlong said: “If we were once the few, we are surely now the many.” These words closely parallel the dynamics happening in our compost world as organic residuals take their long overdue golden position on diversion podiums. Recent announcements highlight the dynamics.

Toronto’s City Council approved construction of an anaerobic digestion facility at the Toronto Zoo, pending the decision by the Zoo’s Board of Management and completion of the request for proposals process. The proposed biogas facility will be built on a 10-acre parcel of land at the Zoo based on a third party design/build/own/operate basis. Also included in the site design will be a visitor education area, to be accessible during regular Zoo hours.
The facility will manage approximately 70,000 metric tons/year, consisting of organic residuals from the Zoo (estimated at 2,000 metric tons annually) and the remainder from off-site industrial, commercial and agricultural sources. The Council’s report indicated that an estimated 35 commercial trucks will be kept busy on a daily, nonstop basis to deliver materials to the Zoo for processing.
The electricity generated will power the Zoo’s requirements as offset its CO2 emissions (estimated at 7,500 metric tons annually). The remainder is to be sold to the Ontario Power Authority through the Feed-in-Tariff Program.


Toronto’s Exhibition Place, host to more than 300 events and 5.2 million visitors annually, achieved a 79 percent diversion rate in 2009. “Staff determination in combination with management direction has helped us deliver a comprehensive waste management strategy that has enabled us to significantly surpass our original 2009 diversion plan of 70 percent,” says Dianne Young, CEO of Exhibition Place. “In addition to incorporating sustainability innovations such as solar, wind, green roofs and lighting retrofits into our operations, we have all taken this diversion commitment to heart, tracking our progress, communicating its importance to organizers of on-site events and reaching out to our visitors to ensure ease of access and participation.”
Exhibition Place initiated its grounds-wide internal Waste Management Working Group in 2002, establishing year-over-year objectives to drive diversion forward. Spearheaded by Mike DiMaso, Senior Facility Coordinator, waste audits have been followed-up with collection programs as well as ongoing diversion tracking throughout the 192-acre grounds.
“We wanted to make it easy for visitors to properly participate in our composting program, particularly as they are usually focused on quick disposal,” says DiMaso. “Consequently, we spent considerable time with our catering partners to move from nonrecyclable food containers to compostable alternatives at our events at BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum and the Direct Energy Centre. This helped us eliminate the garbage bin at our sports venue events, with its replacement being a two-stream bin, one for recycling and the other for compostables, which are then taken directly for composting.”
The conversion to compostable tableware was extended in 2009 to the 110 concessionaires in the Food Building as part of the annual Canadian National Exhibition as well as the eight concessionaires of the annual Rib Fest. “Proper implementation supported with strong communication – with our visitors, exhibitors, maintenance staff and suppliers – has been key to our success,” he adds.

Our edible gardening program, Plant a Row•Grow a Row, has been given a great boost of support through a new partnership with Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. Starting this spring, the makers of Hidden Valley dressings will distribute 225,000 lettuce seed packets across Canada, promoting Plant a Row•Grow a Row and providing the opportunity for gardeners to grow vegetables for their own enjoyment as well as for sharing with neighbors in need. To learn more about this new partnership in Plant a Row•Grow a Row program, contact May Ho Stepanek (


StormFisher BioGas has been purchased by Greenhouse Gas Services LLC, a joint venture between GE Energy Financial Services and The AES Corporation. The venture is focused on anaerobic digestion initiatives with feedstocks from the food processing and agricultural industries.
One of their near future constructs is planned near London, Ontario where the projected $15 million biogas plant will be annually “fed” with a projected 15,000 metric tons of supermarket organic residuals from Loblaw Companies Limited. Total planned capacity of the 2.8 MW plant is 140,000 metric tons. The electricity created, projected to power about 2,800 homes, is to be purchased by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) through its Standard Offer Program (feed-in tariff) at a 20-year guaranteed rate of 11 cents/kWh.

Susan Antler is Executive Director of the Compost Council of Canada, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2010.

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