City To Digest Compost Proposal

City administration is exploring the potential benefits of hiring a private company to divert compost from the Mapleward landfill.

Eco Depot made a deputation to city council on Monday, asking that a Request For Proposals be issued for a Category 'A' composting facility.

Project director Tammy Lehtinen offered to build a facility that could process and sell 9,000 metric tonnes of organic waste, while saving the city 30 per cent on its existing leaf and yard waste contract.

A Thunder Bay Hydro power plant currently processes methane waste into 3.2 megawatts of energy, enough to power 2,000 homes.

Lehtinen said that process leaves a waste byproduct where her company's model would leave no waste while it would create between 10 and 20 jobs at its Twin City Crossroad site.

"I'm glad to see the city is embracing this new, valuable infrastructure and exploring new opportunities," Lehtinen said following council's decision to ask its administration to report back on the subject in February.

"The bottom line is that the Ontario government is eventually going to legislate the diversion of organics from landfills, regardless of energy projects. That's going to be an expectation of municipalities."

According to city solid waste and recycling services manager Jason Sherband, citizens removed 400 cubic metres of compost from the landfill site in 2016, making the practice, "one of our more successful waste diversion programs."

While Eco Depot's proposal intrigued some councillors, Coun. Joe Virdiramo was skeptical.

"They're not coming here to do us a favour. They're coming here to open up a business to make money," Virdiramo said.

"If that's the case, why wouldn't we do it ourselves?"

Sherband said it will be necessary to process compost waste in the future but calculations to date have proven contracting it out to the private sector would result in savings.

"The cost of contracting out to the cost of doing it in house, it was always more cost effective to do it externally," Sherband said.

"Having said that, every time we do re-evalaute it, maybe there comes a point where it's more cost-effective to do it the other way."