The Nova Scotia Department of the Environment (NSDOE) has recently issued the new Composting Facility Guidelines. The guidelines follow the NSDOE six-month moratorium on large-scale open-windrow composting facilities in September 1997.
An extensive public consultation process began last September and during the process municipalities, industry, and the public were invited to provide feedback on the type of facility and the degree of protection desired. Almost unanimously, serious concern was expressed about restricting facility types. More performance criteria rather than prescriptive design criteria was requested, so the NSDOE revised its approach. Although there are still some necessary prescriptive criteria, there is flexibility in the guidelines to meet the needs of individual regions.
Any technology–whether open-windrow or in-vessel–can be considered. There are less restrictions for in-vessel than for open-windrow facilities. Vector control, groundwater and surface-water monitoring, and odour-control are all less stringent for in-vessel facilities where these are already built into the infrastructure. Balancing operation costs with capital costs plays a large role when deciding which type of process to consider.
Three facilities in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) have been approved by the NSDOE under the new guidelines. Two of them, Stinnes Enerco Ltd. and Miller Waste Systems, are building wide-bed channel composting facilities. Each has a capacity of approximately 20,000 tonnes per year and both have contracts with HRM to compost source-separated curbside organics.
The third is already constructed and open for business. It’s an in-vessel facility designed, built, and operated by The Good Earth Organic Resources Ltd. The facility has a capacity of 6,000 tonnes per year and is accepting compostable organics from grocery stores, restaurants, and other industry. (See sidebar, page 39)
Overall, response to the guidelines has been positive. Through the application of composting, Nova Scotia intends to announce itself next year as the first province to meet the Canada-wide goal of 50 per cent diversion.
Written by Barry Friesen, P. Eng., the solid waste-resource manager for the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment.