Solid Waste & Recycling


Passing the Sniff Test

From the public viewpoint, odor is a major pollution issue. Ensuring that odors from composting, wastewater treatment, transfer stations and landfills are eliminate or at least severely reduced is key to success in public relations. There are subs...

From the public viewpoint, odor is a major pollution issue. Ensuring that odors from composting, wastewater treatment, transfer stations and landfills are eliminate or at least severely reduced is key to success in public relations. There are substantial opportunities for success if you are willing to research the issues and develop solutions that work.

One would think that odor problems in the waste management industry would have been controlled by now, but they’re in fact a growing concern. With residential development and reduced buffers zones, many operators of transfer stations, landfills and compost facilities are finding that managing odor is a priority.

There are various means to control odors but generally scrubber technology or chemical application are the most popular.

A 2003 study conducted by the McIlvaine Company projected that the worldwide odor-control chemical market at municipal wastewater treatment plants, food processors and chemical plants will rise from $541 million (US) in 2003 to $621 million in 2006. The odor-control market for scrubber technology was estimated to grow from $470 million per year to $585 million in the same time period. The estimate does not even include typical waste management operations such as transfer stations, landfills and composting operations or other methods of odor control.

Many companies with odor control technologies tend to focus on the elimination, masking or neutralizing of odors after they occur. Hydralogic, a company based in Barrie, Ontario, entered the odor control market with a different mind-set. Hydralogic focused its research and development on a solution that would prevent odors from being generated in the first place.

Michael Beckley, president and CEO of Hydralogic, views his company as a centre of environmental research and development first and foremost. Once a product or technology is ready for commercialization, Hydralogic finds strategic partners to help market and sell it. In February 2004, Hydralogic Systems Inc. was listed on the TSX venture exchange and trades under “HSL.”

Several years of R&D focused on prevention of odor-causing substances in biological treatment systems. Hydralogic recently launched the introduction of a unique micronutrient-based supplement for select organic waste applications including landfilling, composting and agricultural waste solids. The natural proprietary formula developed by Hydralogic optimizes specific biological processes.

The micronutrient supplement, marketed as BioStremeTM, is formulated to promote the growth of facultative anaerobic bacteria. Facultative anaerobic bacteria produce nitrogen gas. Standard anaerobic bacteria produce odor-causing ammonia.

Poultry composting

One of the first companies to benefit from the use of Hydralogic’s nutrient supplement was a composting facility in Eastern Canada. The facility processes approximately 35,000 tonnes of organic waste annually through the use of open windrow and passive aeration windrow composting. One of the feedstocks to the facility is sludge generated from primary treatment at a nearby chicken processing facility.

With the addition of chicken processing waste plant to its feedstock, the facility began to generate nuisance odors. A number of options were attempted to control the odors with no success. Exasperated, the compost facility agreed to trial test of Hydralogic’s micronutrient supplement.

With the opportunity to prove itself to a customer, Hydralogic performed bench-scale treatability studies using respiratory (a method of measuring metabolic activity during biotreatment) to ensure the nutrient supplement was tailored to the specific needs of the composting facility and that it would work.

During the four-week trial at the composting facility, no malodors were noticed. The management from the facility was pleased and has continued with the application of Biostreme.


One of North America’s largest hazardous waste landfills had odor issues with its two leachate collection lagoons. The odors were an indication of incomplete and improper decomposition of solids in the lagoons. The original approach to the reduce odors involved the use of applied hydrogen peroxide. It showed limited ability to remove odors. Hydralogic, through treatability testing, formulated a specific micronutrient supplement to enhance the biological processes and reduce odor-producing mechanisms. Within five days of treatment with Biostreme, the operator of the landfill noticed reduced odors. Soon after, odors were virtually eliminated from the first lagoon and noticeably reduced in the second one. Downstream of the lagoons, the odors are virtually nonexistent.

John Nicholson is a management consultant with Environmental Business Consultants based in Toronto, Ontario. E-mail John at

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