Thunder Bay Company Inches Closer Starting Composting Facility

A Thunder Bay company is one step closer to its goal of giving people in northwestern Ontario a chance to compost waste they would normally throw in the garbage.

Eco Depot filed an application with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to operate a composting facility with an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes of organic waste.

The facility, located on Twin City Crossroads and currently under construction, is expected to open later this fall.tammy-lehtinen-eco-depot

Tammy Lehtinen is the project director of Eco Depot. The company is looking to operate a composting facility in Thunder Bay. (Eco Depot)

Tammy Lehtinen, project director with Eco Depot, said the composting facility will take organic waste, such as fruit and vegetables scraps, paper towels and coffee grinds and biosolids (organic matter recycled from sewage), and make Class A compost.

"There's a huge opportunity here to divert 40-50 per cent of the organics that are going to the landfill, which we know does not create or generate a useful product," Lehtinen said.

She said the company looked at a number of other locations operating composting facilities successfully and they believe such a facility can operate in Thunder Bay.

Nutrient Management

Lehtinen said Eco Depot also plans to target larger volume producers of biosolids and organic waste such as pulp and paper operations or ash generated from boilers when it opens later this year.

According to Lehtinen the city's sewage treatment plant generates approximately 9,000 tonnes of biosolids annually, less than a third of the composting facility's capacity.

In the long term the company is looking at servicing all schools, hospitals, grocers, restaurants and residences of northwestern Ontario.

Thunder Bay does not currently sort out organics with its weekly curbside waste collection, but Lehtinen said residents will be able to take food scraps and yard waste to the depot.

"It's not just about diverting from the landfill, the main piece here is nutrient management," Lehtinen said.

"You lose the organics to the landfill [and] you can't return them to the soil. We know that here in northwestern Ontario [that] we have marginal soils, so having this product available to local agricultural operations is highly beneficial."