A Convertus biofuel facility in Surrey. Screenshot, Convertus Group video

A Convertus biofuel facility in Surrey. Screenshot, Convertus Group video

Nanaimo facility could take some of Comox Strathcona’s compost

Industrial and commercial organics would likely be shipped, not regular food or yard waste

Comox Strathcona Waste Management’s plan for waste in the not-too-distant future involves sending all garbage to the Comox Valley landfill and backfilling trucks to bring organics to a regional compost centre in Campbell River.

Looking south though may also provide another option for some organic material from the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts.

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona awards contract for organic compost facility

For the board meeting in December, CSWM hosted a delegation from a firm called Convertus, which manages organics material in parts of Europe, eastern Canada and, closer to home, a couple of B.C. locations, including Nanaimo. Two representatives were appearing as a delegation to explore ways to support CSWM in its management of organic waste.

“I think we’re at the forefront within the country as far as working towards diversion goals,” said Sean Kawakami, business development manager for Convertus.

Convertus has four facilities across Canada where it handles more than 300,000 tonnes of organic waste each year. The company wants to increase capacity from about 20,000 metric tonnes at the Nanaimo facility, for which it recently secured a long-term contract with the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). The plan is to have the site handle more than 40,000 tonnes of food, leaf and yard, co-mingled and fish waste. The upgrade will include four in-vessel composting tunnels, air humidification and biofilter capacity for odour abatement.

“We’re in the process of renovating that facility,” said Kawakami. “Some of this is absolutely state of the art.”

CSWM board member Arzeena Hamir wanted to know about pricing to receive materials as well as of the end compost product.

Convertus CEO Michael Leopold responded that in Nanaimo they have varying pricing structures.

“It really depends on the volume and the contamination of the waste,” he said.

The Nanaimo facility, he said, has had no odour complaints. This site will be able handle the ICI, or industrial commercial and institutional waste.

Leopold said, “What our facility really is … it’s able to handle your complex organic waste.”

Andy Adams, one of the Campbell River board members, asked about the potential percentage of organic material that could be diverted to Nanaimo compared with the amount the new regional facility, once operational, would handle.

Marc Rutten, CSWM general manager of engineering services, said the new facility in Campbell River, slated to open in 2022, could handle about 14,500 tonnes of mostly co-mingled food and yard waste. Roughly 3,000 tonnes are allocated for ICI waste, and expansion would be required to handle more, though Rutten added there is more ICI waste in the community. In all, around 20 per cent of the facility has capacity for ICI.

Jim Abram, a Strathcona board member, asked if there had been any consideration, in order to take advantage of economies of scale, for the region’s waste to go to Nanaimo rather than building a facility in the CSWM area. He also wanted to know if the company had been aware of CSWM’s interest in building its own facility or if staff had been aware of the company’s ability to take on waste from outside the Nanaimo region.

Chief administrative Russell Dyson replied that the planning and grant process for a facility at Campbell River is well underway, as the board has planned on the site for several years. He said staff could do an evaluation but that there are deadlines, including grant requirements, for the project. He also said they have held conversations with RDN staff about alternative outlets for organic materials.

“We have always been looking at all available options,” he said, adding there might be opportunities later to ship the ICI part of waste to the Nanaimo site.

Abram asked whether all the waste could go to Nanaimo or if there should be a further study on CSWM’s building its own facility.

“That’s a political discussion as to where this board wishes to go with this project,” Dyson responded.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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