City reports organics processing is working well, according to plan|
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Contrary to recent media reports, Councillor Jane Pitfield, Chair of the Works
Committee says that Toronto’s Dufferin Organics Processing Facility is working
as expected and according to plan. "The Dufferin plant is the first of its kind
in North America and the business of processing organics is rather new," said
Pitfield. "The plant is a good, reliable facility, however when its capacity
is doubled we will begin heating and lighting other buildings with the methane.
We will work to reduce the waste that is sent to Michigan." The March 8, 2005
staff report to the Works Committee "SSO Public Facility Business Plan"
Preliminary Evaluation of Dufferin" provides an update on the plant’s anaerobic
system that processes Green Bin organics.
The proportion of residue from the organics processing that goes to Michigan
landfill is a planned by-product. The City purposely allows Green Bin
participants to use plastic bags to dispose of their organics knowing that the
bags, being non-compostable, ultimately require landfill. "Plastic bags
contribute to the hygenics of the program and are offered as a convenience to
residents," explained Geoff Rathbone, Director of Policy and Planning for
Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services. "It also gives these bags a second
life in that they are reused." The City is exploring options to recycle
plastic bags should a sustainable market be found.
Organics themselves break down into three natural elements: liquid, methane and
solids. Organics have an extremely high moisture content, especially fruit and
vegetable waste. Some of the moisture evaporates but the remainder, once
separated from the solids, becomes a water-based liquid that is diverted from
landfill and properly treated.
The Dufferin Organics Processing Facility is a demonstration plant that is not
currently of an economic scale to install electric conversion systems to permit
the capture of methane to produce electricity. Recognizing the positive value
of methane as an energy-from-waste by-product, the City plans to capture the
methane once its proposed plans to expand the Dufferin facility are realized.
In the meantime, the methane is combusted to CO2, which is not harmful to the
environment. The carbon content in the CO2 is biogenic (comes from plants and
animals) resulting in a zero net greenhouse gas impact.
Close to 90,000 tonnes of organics are sent to the processing facilities, of
which Dufferin is one. The others include facilities in Guelph and Quebec, that
use an aerobic system, and another in Newmarket, that, like Dufferin, uses an
anaerobic system. The Dufferin facility, situated in Toronto, benefits the
economy by creating local jobs. The anaerobic system requires less land than an
aerobic one, making it better suited to Toronto’s urban environment. It also
allows the City to pursue the capture of methane as an energy-from-waste
Councillor Jane Pitfield
Chair of Works Committee
416-392-0215 (cell: 416-529-9875)
Director, Policy & Planning, Solid Waste Management Services