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2016 FCM Sustainable Communities Awards — Waste Program

WINNER: City of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC

A pioneering project in biomethanation

The City of Saint-Hyacinthe took the lead in completing all the research and development for its biomethanation project to produce biogas from waste. The project, completed without external consultants, is a first in Quebec and one of the first in North America. 

Read the case study below to learn about project highlights, as well as the challenges and lessons learned that can help your community in planning a similar project.

Organic waste recycling centre

About the project

Municipal population Project duration Total project value
54,627 2009–2017 $48 million

To manage its organic waste and sewage sludge from water treatment locally, Saint-Hyacinthe undertook a biomethanation project. By constructing a new facility and working with local partners, the city now converts waste from the brown bins of citizens in 23 municipalities and from agri-food businesses into natural gas that can be used to heat buildings and operate vehicle fleets at low cost.

Biomethanation is a stable, environmentally responsible and economic way of generating natural gas. In addition, the municipality produces a surplus of natural gas that it sells to the Gaz Métro utility. In just a few years, Saint-Hyacinthe will recoup the cost of building its organic waste and biomethanation plants.

With this initiative, Saint-Hyacinthe has proven that a municipality can lead and complete all stages of a large-scale biomethanation project, acquire the necessary technical skills, and even make the project profitable.



"We were faced with an environmental issue of how to dispose of sewage sludge and other organic matter. We solved the problem by using both to make energy."
Mayor Claude Corbeil, City of Sainte-Hyacinthe

Aerial view of the biomethanation plant

Vehicles fueled by natural gas

Project Highlights


Environmental Economic Social
  • Conversion of 100 per cent of the region's organic waste (25,000 tonnes per year)

  • Sewage sludge sent to landfill reduced from 14,000 tonnes to 7,400 tonnes

  • 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions caused by transporting and disposing of sewage sludge

  • Biogas used to heat and cool municipal buildings

  • $1.5 million per year saved on transportation and burial of sewage sludge 
  • $500,000 per year saved on fuel, building heating and air conditioning
  • Projected profit of several millions of dollars per year from conversion of organic waste and sale of surplus natural gas to Gaz Métro
  • Odours reduced near the water treatment plant and landfill (odour-related complaints about the treatment plant dropped from 15 to 0 per year)

  • Noise reduced (biogas vehicles are 4 decibels quieter)

  • Reinvestment of profits and savings is a benefit to citizen: lower taxes, improved services and regional development projects


  • Saint-Hyacinthe began its project before Quebec's biomethanation standards were developed. The municipality had to develop benchmarks in conjunction with the Quebec government. This facilitated the development of standards for future similar projects in Quebec.
  • Biomethanation technology was not readily available in Canada, so Saint-Hyacinthe conducted in-depth research in Europe, and transferred the knowledge and acquired equipment from the United States and Europe.

Lessons learned

  • Be inspired — Saint-Hyacinthe's experience shows that municipalities can complete large projects at an affordable cost.
  • Use internal resources to significantly reduce total project costs. This approach means that project schedules and funds invested can be carefully monitored, allowing better control over expenditures and deadlines.
  • Get started with biomethanation projects by visiting other facilities, seeking support from local and regional stakeholders and maintaining regular contact with authorities and citizens. 
Partners and collaborators Project planning documents Related reading


Régie intermunicipale d'Acton et des Maskoutains

Gaz Métro

Environmental report (March 2009)

Environment policy (June 2010)

Action Plan 2010-2014

Report 2010-2013

Quebec Residual Materials Management Policy - Action Plan 2011-2015

GMF funding opportunities for waste initiatives

Waste management resources and best practices

Case study — Town of Cape St. George, co-winner of a 2015 FCM Sustainable Communities Award (waste category)

Case study — City of Whitehorse, YT, co-winner of a 2015 FCM Sustainable Communities Award (waste category)

More information

Brigitte Massé
Director of communications
City of Saint-Hyacinthe
T. 450-778-8300

Jeca Glor-Bell
Advisor, Knowledge Services, FCM
T. 613-907-6393

Page Updated: 25/04/2016