In October, Peel Regional Council decided to build a new anaerobic digestion (AD) facility for Peel Region residents’ green bin waste. The Region also increased its 3Rs waste diversion target from 60% to 75%, which puts additional focus on effective organic material collection and treatment.
In January 2016, the Region will start to collect garbage and recycling on alternating weeks, instead of weekly, and it is currently distributing new green carts that are more than twice the size of the original bins. These moves are intended to increase the participation rate in the green bin program. The Region will also need to build new infrastructure, and Council endorsed AD as the solution.
Also starting in January 2016, CNG vehicles will be used for the Region’s curbside waste collection programs. Peel Region has two existing composting facilities, including the largest publicly owned and operated composting facility in Canada: Peel Integrated Waste Management Facility (PIWMF) in Brampton. It also has a smaller facility in Caledon. Both have been used to treat green bin waste (also called Source Separated Organics, or SSO) for several years – PIWMF since 2007, and Caledon since 1995. Together, they process approximately 80,000 tonnes per year – roughly half green bin and half yard waste.
Partially composted material is taken to a third facility: Peel Curing Facility, where the composting process is finished. The Region has been successful in marketing the finished compost to residents, farmers, soil blenders, Filtrex applications, and nurseries.
Currently, green bin material is not collected from multi-residential units.
“The new AD facility will need to have the ability to process 120,00 tonnes of organic material per year, with the possibility for expansion if we are successful in capturing more from residents,” says Brian Van Opstal, Peel Region’s Manager of Infrastructure Development for Waste Management. The facility will be operational by 2021, according to Tom McLenaghan, a project manager in the infrastructure development section of Peel Region’s waste management division. The Region will own the facility, with an operator to be determined.
Currently, Peel Region trucks about 30 tonnes of SSO per week to the Woolwich AD facility in Elmira, operated by BioEn Power. The Region staff wanted to gain familiarity with the process, and be reassured that such a facility could handle the material without difficultly or incident.
Van Opstal, who led the recent development of the Toronto AD facility and is familiar with the challenges and opportunities that accompany AD, points out that the rationale for AD for Peel Region was clear:
What will Peel Region do with the biogas generated? “Producing RNG is the leading contender,” Van Opstal says. “We will also look at electricity production, or an adjacent facility that can use the gas for heating.”
Peel is looking to the Canadian Biogas Association to connect staff with agencies and companies in the biogas business so it can learn more. “We want to leverage the knowledge and experience of other players and stay current on developments,” Van Opstal adds. “For the next few years, the annual conference will be a networking focal point for us.”
Peel Region appreciates the Canadian Biogas Association’s insights related to developments in other municipalities, including Edmonton and the current study that the association is undertaking with London. Peel Region also recently participated in a roundtable discussion, related to potential future RNG production, with municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area and Enbridge Gas Distribution.
Peel’s advice to other municipalities is to “do your homework and don’t underestimate the challenges that come with AD projects.” Understand the implications of waste diversion targets and the need to divert organic material. Consider what approach is best to manage the quantity and composition of the expected organic material.