Campbell River could compost biosolids

City looking to site a treatment plant on 10 hectares of land available at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre

An organic compost facility in Campbell River could save the city millions of dollars in improvement costs, says the city’s general manager of operations.

A compost centre could accommodate the city’s biosolids, which are digested at the city’s Norm Wood Environmental Centre.

If the city continues with its current practise, however, the centre’s biosolids treatment plant will need to be expanded long-term.

A solution is to process the biosolids at the proposed compost centre.

“If we put the compost facility here it would allow us to alter or eliminate the expansion of the waste treatment plant,” said Ron Neufeld on Thursday afternoon during a tour of the Norm Wood Environmental Centre grounds.

Neufeld said an organics facility could save the city $2.5 million in capital costs to upgrade the biosolids treatment plant.

The city is looking to site the treatment plant on 10 hectares of land available at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre.

The plan is to build the facility large enough to accommodate organics from the entire region – including the Comox Valley, Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos.

The initiative is part of the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management Plan. Campbell River was chosen as the best location for the regional-wide centre for efficiency reasons.

With waste to be trucked from the Campbell River dump’s transfer station to the Comox Valley landfill, it wouldn’t make sense to have empty trucks returning to Campbell River, according to Neufeld.

With the compost centre here, trucks could take their load of waste from the Campbell River transfer station to the Cumberland landfill, pick-up organics in the Comox Valley and truck them back to Campbell River for drop-off at the compost centre.

With the Campbell River landfill near capacity, the compost facility will play a role in expanding its life span.

Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s sustainability manager, estimates organics make up 35 per cent of our household waste.

“If we divert it all, it would make a huge impact with the landfill near capacity,” Zirnhelt said.

Waste that would be accommodated by the compost centre would include food scraps from households and restaurants, yard waste and possibly some industrial organic waste.

The city estimates the amount of material going into the compost facility could be up to 11,000 tonnes per year, depending on regional participation.

The city is preparing to issue a Request for Proposals in early 2014 to seek out a company to build the facility.

The city is looking for a public-private partnership and has not ruled out allowing a private company to not only build, but finance, operate and own the facility.

Neufeld said once the Request for Proposals is issued and answered, the city will have a better idea as to the size and logistics of the proposed facility.

“We have not prescribed a particular model,” Neufeld said. “What role the private partner will play is still to be determined. They could be the operator, they could be the operator and financer.”

Neufeld said the City  of Campbell River could enter into an agreement similar to the Community Centre, which was privately built and financed and then leased to the city for 10 years after which time the city took ownership.

The city expects to select a company to take on the compost facility sometime in the first few months of 2014.