May 23, 2005 | General

Quebec Prepares For Organics Diversion

BioCycle May 2005, Vol. 46, No. 5, p. 41
With a 60 percent mandate by 2008 that includes organics, Quebec has laid the groundwork to expand on the 865,000 metric tons being composted annually at 38 facilities.
Paul van der Werf

In 2000, the Provincial Government in Quebec required its regional municipalities to undertake waste management plans. The objective was to attain, by 2008, a 60 percent waste diversion rate, including putrescible organics (food and yard trimmings) of which only seven percent are currently composted.
While most of the plans have been written, the means of achieving them are generally not in place. One major plan from the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC) – an amalgam of 63 municipalities that represents 45 percent of Quebec’s population – was completed in 2004 but isn’t yet in effect. According to this plan, collection of source separated organics will take place by 2007 (except for multifamily dwellings), but the MMC’s financial demands must be accepted by the government. This may be problematic as one demand is for 100 percent funding of recyclables collection (currently paid by municipalities) by companies whose materials are recycled via curbside programs. The government recently adopted a regulation that requires companies to pay only 50 percent of those costs, effective in 2005.
Most regional municipalities plan to implement three-stream collection systems before 2008, while more rural areas will rely on home composting and “grasscycling.” Many municipalities recognize the need for new regional composting facilities to convert the source separated organics collected in three-stream systems into high quality compost. Given the current low composting rate, significant infrastructure needs to be built.
Françoise Forcier is a project manager with Solinov Inc., a Quebec consulting firm that specializes in composting and organic residue management. “There is definitely a challenge here,” she states, “because of the delays needed to implement new facilities to achieve the objectives in 2008 and the changes and involvement required at the municipal level.” She says municipalities are still waiting for the money that will come from the newly adopted recycling funding legislation.
Another proposed regulation that may help should take effect in January 2006. It introduces a $10 per metric ton tax on wastes sent to landfill. This money will be directed back to municipalities to help them implement their waste management plans and to compensate communities affected by landfill sites.
Diversion Details
At present, about 865,000 metric tons of wastes are composted at 38 composting facilities in Quebec each year. Almost 60 percent of these wastes are related to the forestry sector, including wood residuals and paper mill biosolids. This is followed by manures. Approximately 9.7 percent consists of putrescible organics from the municipal sector.
A multistakeholder committee (Filière sur les matières résiduelles compostables) of Recyc-Québec is working to help municipalities and the institutional, commercial and industrial (IC&I) sectors meet the government’s organics diversion target. In September 2004, Forcier – a cochair of the committee – prepared and released (in collaboration with Recyc-Québec) a strategic plan.
The plan notes that in 2002, 1.27 million metric tons of putrescible organics were produced from the municipal sector in Quebec. Of this, 84,000 metric tons (or seven percent) are composted. An additional 678,000 metric tons need to be collected for composting annually.
Most of what is collected and composted is leaf-and-yard trimmings (63,000 metric tons in 2002), while approximately 10,000 metric tons is source separated organics (“SSO,” i.e., food and yard trimmings) from three-stream collection in carts. Some additional municipal solid waste is also composted in Conporec’s Sorel-Tracy facility.
Table 1 depicts municipalities currently composting putrescible organics in Quebec. At present, it’s estimated that approximately 51,000 households have access to organics collection and composting. Most programs involve SSO composted outdoors in open windrows.
Composting Programs And Technologies
The largest three-stream collection programs to divert putrescible organics are in Victoriaville (between Quebec City and Montreal), a municipality with close to 10,000 households.
An automated three-stream cart based collection is undertaken by Recuperation Gaudreau Inc. (Gaudreau), a private sector recycling company. Gaudreau also services two other communities with close to 12,000 households.
Gaudreau owns a landfill site, windrow composting facility, materials recovery facility (MRF) and a compost and horticultural products distribution center in Victoriaville. The compost facility has an annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons. The site receives various organics from municipal and IC&I sources.
Groupe Conporec Inc. of Tracy has owned and operated a fully-enclosed composting facility for over 10 years. The facility serves a population of about 50,000 and presently handles about 21,000 metric tons of residential waste. It receives organics from Sorel-Tracy; mixed wastes are received in an enclosed building and directed through a bioreactor for initial composting. Next, the material is refined (i.e., through screens, magnets, manual sorting, etc.) to remove noncompostable items. The compostable material is taken to a maturation building for further composting and processing in windrows. The final material is screened and marketed.
Since 1993, Ferti-Val of Bromptonville has composted a wide array of organics including municipal and IC&I, manures, forestry residuals and other industrial wastes. The company composts almost 100,000 metric tons of materials annually. In 2003, it sold almost 40,000 cubic meters of compost and compost-containing products.
Late in 2004, Ferti-Val announced the development of a new composting system called “System CIS 100.” The system relies on an outdoor aerated static pile as its base technology. Wastes are received indoors and, after initial preparation, are directed by fixed conveyor to a radial and telescopic stacking conveyor. This stacking conveyor facilitates the construction of a composting bed. A composting bed has an approximate dimension that is 30m long by 30m wide and 4.5m high, with an approximate volume of 3,000 m3. The stacking conveyor can be moved to build a number of composting beds. The system can be built to accommodate up to 100,000 metric tons of organics per year.
As 2008 looms over the horizon, there appears to be some movement to composting organic residuals, although much still needs to be done. Sums up Forcier: “It is recognized by municipalities that there is a serious need to implement new facilities to achieve government objectives. Those who completed their waste management plans are already or will soon address that need.”
Additional studies and planning are ongoing, she notes. “There is definitely a challenge here because of the time needed to implement the facilities to achieve objectives. In Québec, composting is mainly done by the private sector.”
Paul van der Werf is president of 2cg, a composting and waste management consulting firm based in London, Ontario. Visit This article first appeared in the February/March edition of Canadian trade publication Solid Waste & Recycling magazine.

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