A municipally owned company that runs a large landfill in central Alberta plans to build a compost facility that could process up to 20,000 tonnes of organic waste per year.
Claystone Waste Ltd. — formerly known as Beaver Municipal Solutions — is controlled by Beaver County, the towns of Tofield and Viking and the villages of Ryley and Holden. Like Epcor, the municipally owned corporation pays dividends to the communities when the business succeeds.
The corporation announced this week that it is beginning construction on a $4-million compost facility beside its landfill near the village of Ryley, which is about 85 kilometres east of Edmonton.
CEO Pierre Breau said the corporation wasn't able to secure the contracts to process organic waste from the City of Edmonton but would be interested in doing so in the future.
In the meantime, he said, the facility could serve other municipalities and clients in the private sector, like shopping malls.
"They want to be able to show that they're doing green cart collections just because it's the right thing to do, and many of them say they're thrilled that we're opening up a compost facility," Breau told CBC News on Wednesday.
Claystone Waste Ltd. owns nine quarters of land near Ryley. The landfill occupies one quarter while the compost facility, which has been in the works since 2015, will be built on an adjacent one.
The company would make money by charging fees for dumping organic waste and it plans to give away the compost it creates.
The west Edmonton composting company Cleanit Greenit Composting Systems recently lost its provincial licence and a court application for permission to keep running.
Some residents who live in neighbourhoods near that facility complained for years about odour.
Charles Young splits his time between Edmonton and his rural property, which is about 1500 metres from Claystone Waste's landfill.
He said there is odour, traffic and noise from the landfill and he worries a compost facility could exacerbate those issues.
"I like composting — I'm thrilled with that — I just don't know if it's the right location," he said.
Young said he wants the facility to be continually monitored.
Tracey Carter-Janus, who lives about 200 metres from the landfill, said she was shocked to learn about the compost facility through CBC on Thursday and wished residents had been notified a year ago.
"It's devastating," she said.
Cater-Janus said she opposes the project and worries about effects on her property value.
Breau said the corporation has a plan to prevent odour, which typically results from a lack of oxygen.
Chief operating officer Corey Popick said organic material will be dumped on a concrete pad and screened so the company can determine how to manage every load.
He said each compost pile will be monitored with wireless temperature probes. The probes will send signals to a control system that determines how much air is blown through the piles.
The company's fail-safe is using a bulking agent, like wood chips. These would add carbon, rigidity, room for air to circulate, and be able to absorb volatile organic compounds.
"The biggest thing we have to do, as the operator, is not have any off-site mitigations… odour, air control and temperature management are the keys that we will need to monitor and optimize at all times," Popick said.
Breau said the company is accountable to residents in the rural area.
"We'll know immediately if, for whatever reason, we screwed up someone's Saturday barbecue and we want to do everything possible not to do that," he said.
The facility is scheduled to start operating by the summer of 2023.