Skip to content

Banff may ship own food waste

BANFF – The Town of Banff is considering taking over shipping its food waste and food-soiled paper out of the townsite to a compost facility in the Strathmore-Olds region.
Craig Douce photo
Banff intends to borrow $750,000 to buy equipment so it can extend its contract with Parks Canada to collect garbage and recycling in Lake Louise.

BANFF – The Town of Banff is considering taking over shipping its food waste and food-soiled paper out of the townsite to a compost facility in the Strathmore-Olds region.

On Monday (June 25), council asked administration to compare the current contract in which Walker Environmental hauls and tips source-separated organics generated in Banff at a regional compost facility, to the Town taking over in the short-term.

Shannon Ripley, the Town’s environmental coordinator, said a preliminary study indicates there may be financial benefits for the Town to handle and transport its own food and food-soiled paper, rather than contract the service to a third party.

“However, further financial analysis is required to confirm this,” she said, adding staff would look at costs to handle and prepare for transport; transportation costs and associated greenhouse gas emissions and tipping fees at various facilities.

For more than 10 years, the Town of Banff has offered a collection service for food and food-soiled paper to divert this material from the waste stream for processing into a valuable compost or fertilizer.

Initially, the Town composted food and food-soiled paper, together with biosolids, at its compost facility located adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant, and then cured the compost near Castle Junction.
Due to challenges with finding a place to sell it, the Town selected a private company in 2013 to manage the municipality’s biosolids, food, and food-soiled paper using the N-Viro technology located in a facility at the wastewater treatment plant.

Ripley said the N-Viro process is working very well to convert biosolids – treated sewage sludge – from the wastewater treatment plant into an agricultural fertilizer, noting demand exceeds what is being produced.
However, she said, Walker Environmental has found the N-Viro process is not well suited to process food and food-soiled paper because of contaminants such as plastic bags, cutlery and other non-compostable materials.

As a result, Ripley said Walker Environmental has been receiving food and food-soiled paper at its N-Viro facility for two years, and then hauling it to the Huxted Compost Facility near Strathmore, where it’s turned into compost and sold to local soil blenders.

“An alternative option is for the Town to manage its own source-separated organics by taking over the transportation and deposit of this material at a regional compost facility,” said Ripley.

“Administration has spoken with managers at four regional compost facilities that have expressed interest in accepting the Town’s source-separated organics and provided preliminary pricing to accept these materials.”

The Town of Banff will also investigate long-term options.

One of those options includes anaerobic digestion – a managed biological process that uses microorganisms to decompose organic materials in the absence of oxygen. Biogas is the most sought after end product because it’s a renewable energy fuel source.

“We’ll look at longer term approaches given council’s recent direction to substantially increase the volume of food and food soiled paper that we’re diverting,” said Town Manager Robert Earl.

“We recognize that we need to better understand what to do in the shorter-term, but in the long-term we will bring possible capital intensive projects that make more sense on the 20-year horizon.”

Councillor Chip Olver welcomed that news.

“There is something to be said for closing the loop in terms of dealing with the product where you generate it rather than having to send it someplace else,” she said.