Hop Compost built their first composting operation in Calgary in 2015. According to Kevin Davies, founder and CEO, due to their location in the city, at 17A Street, theirs is currently the most inner-city compost facility in Canada.
This inner-city concept - positioning a small-footprint, high-efficiency in-vessel composting operation within an urban environment, close to the source of commercial food and other organic waste - is one that Davies feels will very likely catch on.
"Composting is ripe for disruption with automation and technology," says Davies. "At a high level, I think that composting in North America relies on very historical production methods that weren't intended to scale."
He says Canada has seen the failure of several centralized facilities, often due to odour or quality issues that arise when agrarian methods are stretched to an industrial size.
"At Hop Compost, we believe that composting should be decentralized, using small and hyper-efficient processing facilities, which makes it not only safer, but actually more competitive."
Davies says their original inner-city composting site in Calgary, similar to their second site in Vancouver, and their third site, currently under construction in Toronto, is only about 10,000 square feet in size, but has the capacity to process about 2,000 tons of certified-organic compost per year.
"This is a very efficient footprint," he says. "We cut about 75 percent of the processing space that's typically required for composting."
In addition, because their sites are located close to the source of their material - all from commercial customers, mainly in the retail food industry - Hop Compost can provide low-cost, customized collection and hauling of organic waste, and offer a truly closed-loop service.
The HotRot System
"We use HotRot in-vessel technology to develop our inner-city compost facilities," says Davies. "Hop converts commercial waste into what is - to the extent that we're aware - the most nutrient-rich organic compost in the country."
HotRot technology provides a fully sealed vessel. Inside the vessel, there are data nodes every two metres that track every live condition. The system uses software that responds to those live conditions and can adjust to allow for ideal microbiological activity.
Davies says by using their HotRot system, every minute of production is automated, so they achieve a very high degree of control over the composting process, including odours. And the system is methane- and leachate-free.
"The degree of control that Hop has over its input and output is unique," continues Davies. "As are the software and diagnostics on the system, the variety of data it collects, our ability to see data online and offline, and its automated controls.
"With many systems, you would set a standardized cycle and let it go. With the HotRot system, it is able to adjust its settings as it goes, based on live conditions, such as the turning on or off of exhaust fans or air injection at different periods based on oxygen demand. Our system can track this based on CO2 levels.
"Another advantage of HotRot technology is that it's completely modular," he adds. "In the future, we're going to be able to grow our facilities beyond their 2,000-ton annual capacities by simply plugging new vessels into the existing system."