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Fuel of beans

 11 JUN 2018

Fuel of beans

This year, our Municipal Division pushed the boundaries of innovation in the Canadian market, achieving multiple 'firsts' at our organic biofuels processing facility in the City of Surrey, part of the Metro Vancouver area.

Not only does the 60m Canadian Dollars site bring three processing technologies – standard in-tunnel composting, dry anaerobic digestion and wet fermentation – together under one roof for the first time in North America, it is the first waste recycling facility in Canada to be built under a public–private partnership (P3) financing model.

Funded in partnership with the City of Surrey and the Government of Canada, Renewi provided the upfront capital costs and will operate the facility over a 25-year term.

The site will convert up to 115,000 tonnes of domestic and commercial organic waste per year into biomethane gas, which will power Surrey's fleet of 18 wastecollection trucks and other operational vehicles. Using the renewable gas to power the collection trucks that supply the site with organic waste makes it a fully closed loop facility – a living example of our efforts to play a connecting role in the circular economy.

The facility is expected to supply the national grid with more renewable gas than the City of Surrey needs, making it the first municipality in Canada to have a negative carbon footprint.

Being a good corporate citizen
We started accepting first waste for commissioning in December, expect to supply first gas to the national grid by the end of May, and will be fully operational in the summer.

Alongside the innovative combination of waste processing technologies, the site has a state-of-the-art odour abatement system, which treats more than 200,000m3 of air per hour. The building is under negative pressure, sucking in fresh air whenever a bay door is opened. With local residents living within one kilometre of the site, the odour abatement system is critical to our efforts to be a good corporate citizen.

Truly waste no more 
True to our 'waste no more' approach, we are leveraging every recycling opportunity at the site, even extracting recyclable materials from the odours created by the organic waste. The odour abatement system features an ammonia scrubber, which uses sulphuric acid to extract ammonia from the water droplets created within the damp environment. That ammonia is collected and recycled into ammonia sulphate, a mild fertiliser.

Other recycled products include compost, a few thousand tonnes of which will be given away to local residents free of charge at open-house events that will seek to bring the community together to learn more about what we do at the facility.

The site itself is built to high environmental standards, achieving gold certification under Canada's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, which provides independent verification that a building has been designed and built with human and environmental health in mind. LEED takes account of sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The Surrey facility is also the first waste sector infrastructure project in North America to be awarded the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure's Envision Platinum Award for sustainability.