Elmira biogas plant allowed to boost capacity (Waterloo Record, 6 November 2020)

This item was mirrored from https://www.therecord.com/news/waterloo-region/2020/11/04/elmira-biogas-plant-allowed-to-boost-capacity.html on 24 September 2021.

By Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Fri., Nov. 6, 2020

ELMIRA — Residents can soon expect more trucks carrying organic waste rumbling through Elmira’s main street.

The Ministry of Environment recently approved an increase in capacity to the Woolwich Bio-En Power Inc. anaerobic digestion facility, the Elmira biogas plant that turns organic waste into renewable natural gas through bacterial digestion.

The approval includes an increase in the amount of waste material for the plant’s digestion process from 70,000 to 110,000 tonnes per year.

The approval also allows for 160 truck movements, or 80 trucks per day. This is an increase from the currently allowed 40 trucks per day included in the original 2012 renewable energy approval.

The extra truck traffic is a contentious issue for citizens who feel there is already too much of it in Elmira. Comments on the Environmental Registry of Ontario’s posting expressed worry about the toll the trucks will take on roads, homes and air quality.

Shannon Purves-Smith lives near the plant. Its trucks go by her home regularly.

She feels biogas plants are a good idea but should be located closer to their sources of waste, and not in residential areas.

She said she’s been living with the extra truck traffic from the company since 2012.

“It gets worse all the time,” Purves-Smith said. “The front of my yard is covered in truck dust, and it gets in the house, and we have to have air filters. If you’re gardening outside, you’ll just faint at the smell.”

The province also approved more flexibility in types of wastes allowed to be used as material for the plant. Inbound trucks could be carrying an assortment of approved organic wastes through Elmira’s main street, including food waste, manure, glycerol, fats oils and grease, renewable energy crops like corn silage, and organic waste skimmed from wastewater treatment systems.

“We expect this change at our plant to lead to no more than perhaps a dozen additional vehicles passing through the area in a typical day. It will not be a significant change,” said Paul Taylor, manager of business development.

The Region of Waterloo’s 2015 traffic count estimated average annual daily traffic at 16,145 vehicles at the main intersection of Arthur and Church streets.

The ministry stated that Woolwich Bio-En will work to ensure odour and noise limits are met.

Bio-En produces 2.85 megawatts of electricity and 3.02 megawatts of heat, though the company is considering focusing on selling its product as gas, rather than electricity, according to Taylor.

Purves-Smith and her late husband have been involved with the community debate around Woolwich Bio-En for many years. She said her main concern is that the emissions created by the trucks bringing wastes from across the Greater Toronto Area and throughout Ontario could negate or severely reduce the climate benefit of the technology itself.

Taylor said the plant is one of the largest carbon sinks in Waterloo Region.

The facility has three pre-treatment tanks, two digester tanks and one repository tank where the biogas is generated and stored. The gas can then be used to produce heat and power.

The company also participated in a pilot project last year with the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area to divert organic wastes from downtown businesses.

Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email lgerber@therecord.com

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Pilot project turns food waste from Kitchener businesses into clean energy (CBC, 25 July 2019)

This item was mirrored from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/compost-pilot-downtown-kitchener-ontario-1.5225440 on 24 September 2021.

13 downtown Kitchener restaurants and grocers are participating in a composting initiative.
Alexandra Burza · CBC News · Posted: Jul 25, 2019 4:59 PM ET | Last Updated: July 26, 2019

A new composting initiative in downtown Kitchener collects commercial food waste and turns it into clean energy.

The Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Area (BIA) has asked 13 restaurants and grocers to participate in their pilot project.

“This pilot is about supporting a circular economy by using local partnerships and expertise to provide local jobs and solutions to a global problem,” said Linda Jutzi, the BIA’s Executive Director in a press release.

How it works

The waste is transferred to Bio-En Power in Elmira to be processed into a flexible and green energy source called biogas.

Sustainable Waterloo Region is also collaborating on the project, supporting the businesses by measuring how much waste they divert from landfill, and helping to implement good composting practices.

Julia Gogoleva, co-owner of Full Circle Foods, said her business already had a composting solution in place before they were approached by the BIA.

“Really the reason we’re excited to participate is because it’s a systemic solution,” she said.

She said she wanted to support the initiative because it offered a hassle-free and cost-effective solution for small businesses that may not have funds to spare for waste diversion.

Thinking bigger

At La Cucina, Bobby O’Brien’s and McCabe’s, vice-president of operations Darryl Moore anticipates 70-75 per cent of food waste will be diverted into the new compost program.

But Moore, who also serves as the chairman on the BIA, refers to the project as an interim solution. He said that the Elmira facility is already near maximum capacity.

“I’m hoping really the region takes a bigger part in looking at commercially how they’re going to deal and manage in the next few years to come with the compost,” he said, “There’s still got to be a long term goal and solution for everybody wants to participate in the city.”

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CLC Meeting Agenda for 12 August 2014

The minutes of the 3 June 2014 meeting of the Woolwich Bio-en Community Liaison Committee are now available on the Bio-en CLC Minutes page, and mirrored on this site at Bio-en CLC Meeting Minutes, 3 June 2014.

Also, the agenda for the CLC meeting on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 has been posted on the Bio-En Agendas page as Aug12_2014meeting.pdf (10.6 kBytes), and mirrored here:

Woolwich Bio-en CLC Meeting

When: August 12, 2014

Time: 7:00 to 8:00pm

Where: Meeting Room at the Elmira Branch, Waterloo Region Library


  1. June 3rd meeting minutes
  2. Woolwich Bio-en update
  3. Other Business
  4. Schedule next meeting

This meeting is also open to the public.

CLC members
Earl Brubacher, Chair
Doug Thomas, V chair
Marg Tassy Kreller
Earl Martin
Jerry Heidbuurt
Bob Gray
Micheal Purves Smith
Kevin Martin

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CLC Meeting Notes for 3 June 2014

Due to work commitments I was not able to attend the Bio-en CLC meeting on Tuesday, 3 June 2014. Fortunately, Alan Marshall wrote a good summary on the Elmira Advocate entitled Last Evening’s Woolwich Bio-en Meeting.

Meeting minutes and reports will be posted here once they become available.

Alan reports that there may be a CLC meeting on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 if there is an issue that requires a meeting, otherwise the next CLC meeting will be on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 at the Elmira Public Library. Map

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Agenda for Bio-en CLC meeting on 3 June 2014

Due to some technical difficulties with their web site, Bio-en has not been able to put the minutes and agendas for the last few meetings online. But thanks go out to Tom Fahey of Bio-en, who has made the minutes of the CLC meeting on 6 May 2014 and the agenda for 3 June 2014 available.

Woolwich Bio-en CLC Meeting

When: June 3, 2014 iCal
Time: 7:00 to 8:00pm
Where: Meeting Room at the Elmira Branch, Waterloo Region Library Map

  1. May 6th meeting minutes
  2. Woolwich Bio-en update
  3. Other Business
  4. Schedule Next Meeting

This meeting is also open to the public.

CLC members
Earl Brubacher, Chair
Doug Thomas, V chair
Marg Tassy Kreller
Robert Musselman
Earl Martin
Jerry Heidbuurt
Bob Gray
Michael Purves Smith
Kevin Martin

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Biogas news from Twemlow and Goostrey

Cropped aerial Twemlow houses site

Twemlow and Goostrey

Here are a couple of news stories about biogas plants in England, from the Twemlow and Goostrey no to waste plant web site. I wonder when we’ll see similar stories coming out of Elmira.


Digestate spreading banned due to foul smells

from Farmers banned over digestate smells, 22 May 2014

The Poplars site at Cannock has had well-documented odour issues – but protests about a ‘stink’ received from neighbours late last year were after farmers started using digestate from the plant. The local paper reports that the environmental health department stepped in and banned farmers from spreading the digestate, produced by the anaerobic digestion process, as fertiliser on fields due to the foul smell.

There have been seven ‘catastrophic’ failures of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants from March to November 2013, two of which were of an ‘explosive nature’, the Environment Agency reported

from EA point to catastrophic failures in AD plants, 14 May 2014

When the House of Lords looked into the economics of ‘biowaste’ in December the executive director of environment and business at the Environment Agency, Ed Mitchell, reported that regulation surrounding AD should be based on risk rather than maximum value for stakeholders given the track record of biogas technology.

There is sometimes out there a polarisation that does not take into account the benefits that regulation provides. It is incumbent on people to deliver the objectives they are given by the regulator. Nobody built plants expecting them to fail, but our experience of course is that all these plants are not perfect and the regulation is important. To give an example, we have had seven catastrophic failures of anaerobic digestion plants in the last nine months, two of which were explosive in nature where the gas built up and the lids popped off or the walls blew out.

So when there is a debate about the right amount of regulation it absolutely has to be based on risk.

Chaired by Lord Krebs, the committee was set up to investigate how Government incentives can be designed to make the most of the bio economy, and get the most value from biogas projects.

On our doorstep? – we hope not.

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