Rocky View County postpones decision on Airdrie compost facility
Local residents may soon see the construction of an indoor organic compost facility west of Airdrie.
The City of Airdrie and Rocky View County are planning an open house in September to discuss the construction of a composting facility at Airdrie’s Waste Transfer Site, located west of the city on Highway 567.
Rocky View County council held a public hearing on July 24 to discuss development of an in-vessel organic waste-composting system, which, if built, would be the second of its kind in Canada.
If approved, the facility would break down residential and commercial food waste and other organic material, such as leaves and grass clippings. The materials would then be blended together before being put into a 20-foot shipping container 20 metric tonnes at a time.
Once inside, air would be circulated throughout the container by a fan, expediting the breakdown of the organic material and reducing the volume by half, turning the mixture into Class A compost material.
“This is a world-class facility and having it in Airdrie is a very big deal,” said Kathleen Muretti, Airdrie’s manager of waste and recycling.
Up to 31,000 tonnes could be processed at the site annually, with roughly five per cent of the material coming from the City’s recently announced residential curbside organics pilot program, which is set to begin next year in the communities of Canals and Waterstone and will expand to all of Airdrie in 2014.
Currently, the City pays $98 per tonne to dispose its organic waste at a Calgary landfill. Diverting waste disposal to the proposed Airdrie facility would reduce the cost by up to $40 per tonne. With an annual average of 7,963 tonnes of waste collected from Airdrie residences, the potential to divert up to 60 per cent of that amount to the new facility would mean savings of up to $190,800.
“Instead of taking the material to Calgary, (the City) could have it delivered and processed locally at a substantially reduced rate,” said John Sexton, vice president of business development for Cascade Renewable Carbon Corporation (CRC), the company that would own and operate the facility.
Additional materials would come from area businesses, restaurants and grocery stores, both in Airdrie and Rocky View.
Muretti said since the facility would be fully enclosed, it would not be unsightly or exude bad odours.
“It’s not your transfer site or recycling depot. There is no littering, no waste spillage, no odour and no overflowing bins, because everything is inside,” she said.
“There is also no exposure to rodents or birds,” Sexton said. “It’s a system that really works.”
After hearing from City staff and CRC, council voted unanimously to postpone the hearing to allow for a public open house, submission of a master site development plan and more discussion between and Airdrie and Rocky View.
“Due to the newness of this technology to Canada and Alberta, I think it warrants a little more explanation,” said area Councillor Lois Habberfield. “I would request an open house be held for the community to learn more about it.”
Muretti said the City hopes to hold the open house before the end of the summer.
“We expect an open house to occur before October because we want to move forward with this project,” she said. “We want to provide information to people on this opportunity.”
Muretti said this is the first of many steps in the process. Once all the steps have been taken, she estimated the facility could be up and running in roughly eight months.