June 9, 2017 8:06 pm

Edmonton looking at whole new garbage collection system

Enerkem's Waste-to-Biofuels and Chemicals Facility, is located at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.

Vinesh Pratap/Global News

A proposal is in its very initial stage to change how you sort your garbage. City council’s Utilities Committee reviewed the long-term plan Friday, ahead of what will be a presentation of a new business plan for waste management next year.

A target of diverting 90 per cent of material from the landfill has been in place seemingly forever. They’re nowhere close, so this new way of doing things is hoped to change that.

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This year, the new Enerkem waste-to-biofuel facility will come on line after testing is complete. Tests right now show our garbage is too wet. Blame that on too much coffee grounds, spaghetti sauce and egg yolks among other things.

READ MORE: Enerkem strikes deal to supply methanol from Edmonton plant to Methanex Corp.

Enerkem craves dry garbage, and deputy city manager for city operations Doug Jones told the committee, if they can manage more dry garbage, the diversion rate for the landfill can hit 70 per cent from its current 50 per cent.

“That’s one reason why we want to do something different with the organics because that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

A better product for Enerkem will provide more revenue for the city’s bottom line. Already, the city has invested $10 million in a new dryer. “The brand name is actually, Stella,” said Mike Labrecque, the branch manager for waste services. “It’s a large dryer and essentially, the product goes through on a belt and the heat is pushed through on the belt.”

“The value of the dryer will still be retained because every pound of water that you can remove out of that thing can create more value for the waste to biofuels facility, and then the city shares in that revenue down the road,” Jones said. “We’ll never totally get 100 per cent dry product out of the system.”

Coun. Michael Walters is pushing for a curbside waste separation program, to help improve what goes to both Enerkem and to composting.

READ MORE: Garbage or recycle? Where does my Christmas trash belong?

“Is there innovation or technology within the industry that allows us to do it differently than we’ve done before which ultimately changes the product, the feedstock for the waste-to-biofuels facility? We should look at that stuff, and that’s what this new business plan allows us to do is think about all this stuff and where there’s new innovation, where there’s new technology.”

The plan already envisions the day when the massive composting process the city has run for two decades changes. The composter is wearing out and is at the end of its natural life. Jones said it could have five years left in it. That’s when they’ll have to be ready to do something else.

“It could be neighbourhood composting. It could be separation at the curb. There’s other options out there,” Jones said.

Walters has been approached by a company called Recycle Now, with a curbside proposal that would have more localized composting.

The new council will get updated on the situation in November, before the rollout of the business plan in 2018.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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