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2013 Waste Category ― Co-winner 1

Town of Vegreville, Alberta

Vegreville Residential Compost Program

Population: 5,834
Project duration: 2011 to present
Estimated total project value 2011–2015: $321,500

The Town of Vegreville has found a way to deliver cost-effective, residential composting services to its small community. The program will extend the life of the town's landfill without a costly commitment to developing and operating a municipal composting facility.

The town has contracted with local company Growing Power Hairy Hill to generate electricity, distill ethanol, and produce nitrogen-rich soil from waste. The anaerobic digestion process uses a range of materials, including grain and feedlot waste, to create compost. This compost is used to produce green power that is fed into the provincial grid. Diverting compostable material from the town's landfill will extend the site's life and help reduce odours and organic compounds leaching into the soil.

This project, along with the town's extensive recycling program, is helping to change residents' mindsets and encouraging them to be more conscious of the environment and aware of the impacts of their efforts.

Results

Environmental

Economic 

Social 

  • 365 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill annually at project completion
  • Reduced leachates at town's sanitary landfill
  • Composting with anaerobic digester produces green power and nitrogen-rich soil
  • Extended landfill life will defer cost of closing and replacing site
  • Cost-effective outsourced residential composting at a fraction of the cost of developing a municipal composting facility   
  • Support for the local economy through contracting with an innovative local start-up and purchasing from local suppliers
  • Diverting compostable material from the town's landfill will reduce odours
  • Residents are becoming more environmentally aware

Challenges

  • Faced with a landfill site reaching its capacity, Vegreville determined that 40 per cent of waste going into the site during the summer was compostable garden and household waste.
  • Handling compost at the landfill site would involve constructing a one- to two-acre treatment site with an effective rainwater control system and secure fencing; processing and testing equipment; and ongoing staffing and training.
  • The financial and operational commitment for this development was far beyond Vegreville's current program budget.

Lessons learned

  • Develop educational materials explaining what can be composted. Contaminated loads are rejected by the composting company and redirected to the landfill. By educating its residents, the town has reduced contaminants to zero.
  • Commitment from the community's administration is critical. The Vegreville Town Council dedicated funds for green bins and equipment, allowed sufficient time for staff to develop the project, and participated in the pilot program.

Partners and collaboration

Resources

Page Updated: 21/12/2015