Treated sewage and trashed construction products from the Capital Region ending up at the landfill have caused a new approach to be explored.
The Capital Regional District is looking into thermal technology pilot programs as potential long-term solutions to local waste.
Thermal processing options being investigated include gasification – where high temperatures and oxygen process organic waste into heat and combustible gas – and pyrolysis, the use of decomposition of waste with oxygen and high temperatures to create heat and combustible liquid.
The province requires biosolids to have beneficial use, but a myriad of issues in 2021 saw a small fraction of the CRD’s Class A biosolids – a dried, granular-pellet byproduct of treated wastewater – make it to Richmond’s Lafarge cement plant as planned. The cement facility largely uses those biosolids to make an alternative to coal for fueling manufacturing.
”During the first year of operation, consistent delivery of Class A biosolids to Lafarge under the beneficial use strategy has been challenging,” states a recent CRD report.
The CRD must submit a long-term biosolids management plan to the province in early 2024. In 2021, the CRD board approved a maximum of $400,000 for thermal pilots at existing facilities for processing biosolids.
Contracts for those have been awarded to two facilities, one in London, Ont. and the other in New Jersey. A third contract is underway with a vendor from California.
An update on financial implications, detailed timing and resource requirements of the thermal pilots will land in June. The overall analysis from the pilots is expected in the first half of 2023.
The CRD is also looking closely at Esquimalt’s study into using gasification for waste, including biosolids.
“We need to look at our waste as an energy source as opposed to something we bury,” CRD board chair Colin Plant said in a release. “The CRD is committed to exploring diverse and innovative solutions for the beneficial use of both liquid and solid waste in our region.”
Piloting thermal technologies is also being considered a provincially-required beneficial end-use for the region’s discarded solid waste. Construction, renovation and demolition waste such as wood, asphalt shingles, carpet and flooring currently account for about a fifth of the material received annually at Hartland landfill.
The CRD said the two contracted biosolids facilities, along with the Lafarge plant, could possibly process the solid waste. However, those products would require “significant pre-processing” before being able to meet feedstock requirements for the three processing sites.
Public consultation is expected to be a key part of the planning process ahead of the district’s final long-term waste plan submission to the province.
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