Net Zero Waste turns city’s compost into soil

Net Zero Waste on The News by Alex Butler - Abbotsford News posted Oct 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Abbotsford's Net Zero Waste facility will process about 11,000 tonnes of compost this year. — Image Credit: Alex Butler

Abbotsford's Net Zero Waste facility will process about 11,000 tonnes of compost this year. — Image Credit: Alex Butler

Abbotsford will divert an estimated 11,000 tonnes of organic waste this year – and it will end up at Net Zero Waste to be turned into high-quality soil.

Politicians and community members gathered at the Net Zero Waste compost facility at its official grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The operation opened in January with the implementation of the city’s curbside compost program, and the city entered into a 10-year contract company that built, designed and owns the facility.

Mateo Ocejo, director of Net Zero Waste, said the city originally predicted about 7,000 tonnes of organic waste to come through the facility in the first year, but that has been raised to 11,000. That organic waste will become around 10,000 yards – each yard being about 27 cubic feet – of soil.

Mayor Bruce Banman said one of the best aspects of Net Zero Waste’s system is the new and innovative technology it uses, which helps to keep the smell to a minimum, minimizing the impact on neighbouring communities.

The system uses Gortex covers over the waste, reducing the odour by about 90 to 97 per cent. It also allows CO2 to pass through, retaining heat and allowing the compost to break down faster, in about six to eight weeks. The compost is brought into the facility and placed under covers for the first stage of breaking down. Once the smell is minimized, it’s moved outdoors and covered to continue the process with minimal smell.

Ocejo said they have received no complaints from neighbours about odours.

Banman called the facility a “phenomenal success,” adding that diverting waste from landfills allows the city to spend less on tipping fees for garbage, which he said is important as Metro Vancouver works towards implementing a waste flow management plan – which would raise tipping fees.

John Vissers, chair of the city’s environmental advisory committee, said that he is pleased with the facility.

“We’ve been waiting for this for so many years. Finally we’ve got a very sophisticated, clean, efficient facility for turning our organic wastes into beautiful soil.”

He said that Abbotsford’s higher than anticipated diversion rates shows how ready the community is to participate.

The city program currently collects only from single-family homes, and Vissers said the next step is to collect from multi-family residences and industrial and commercial enterprises.   “The community is on board ... we just have to provide the infrastructure and make it happen.”

Ocejo said that collecting from commercial sources like restaurants and grocery  stores is an important step in garbage diversion, and Net Zero Waste is already planning its first expansion to accommodate more waste.

The soil produced by Net Zero Waste is sold to landscapers, organic farms, and the public, and Ocejo said it is already being used on local sports fields.