Opened in July 2017, the City of Calgary Composting Facility is the largest in Canada to use in-vessel composting technology. Yearly, the facility can process over 100,000 tonnes of food and yard waste brought in through the City of Calgary Green Cart collection program, along with 45,000 wet tonnes of de-watered biosolids from municipal wastewater treatment. After one year of operation, the facility processed over 100 million kilograms of organic material.
"We're very happy with the success of the Calgary Composting Facility after one year," says Craig More, P. Eng. and program manager - organics, City of Calgary. "The amount of organic waste that's come to the facility has exceeded expectations, so that's great news because it is more diverted from the landfill than we anticipated heading in."
Laura Hamilton, waste diversion specialist with the City of Calgary, explains that since their Green Cart program was implemented in 2017, city waste sent to landfill from single family homes has declined by 46 percent. She adds that they are committed to a diversion target that encompasses all waste generating sectors, including single-family, multi-family, IC&I as well as construction and demolition, and that by supporting initiatives across all of these sectors, the city is steadily moving towards a goal of diverting 70 percent of waste from landfill by 2025.
"For 2018, the City is diverting approximately 60 percent of waste in its residential cart collection program, through a combination of blue cart recycling and green cart composting," she says. "As the program matures and Calgarians get more comfortable with how to use the cart and the types of materials that can go in, we should see that diversion rate increase."
According to Ken Kielly, general manager, AIM Environmental Group, the operator of the Calgary Composting Facility, and a member of the consortium that designed and built it, the facility is really performing the way that it was intended. "It's been optimized in the first year of operations to achieve what was projected by year 10 based on current operating practices and daily production performance," he says.
In the 2018 calendar year, they expect to surpass 110,000 tonnes of SSO (source-separated organics) - a combination of standard food waste and leaf and yard materials. "In addition, the biosolids program has performed very well during the same timeframe," he says.
AIM Environmental operates multiple composting facilities across Canada, but this one, according to Kielly, stands out.
"It's really a combination of physical size and integrated technology that makes this facility unique," he says. "The technology brings together the latest advancements in business, operations and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) management to create a combination of process and control best practices, enabled by strategic partnerships across North America and Europe.
"It is also our largest Canadian facility," he continues. "If you look at the North American landscape it's also one of the largest. So it has a good strong physical presence."
Kielly adds that the business operations, technical and health and safety models that are in place are sophisticated and fairly integrated as a combination of people, process and technology. "The Calgary in-vessel composting facility certainly brings together an amazing capability to fast-track the normal biological process of composting food, leaf and yard waste, and biosolids, compared to any type of outdoor or traditional composting model."