The Disco Road Organics Processing Facility, Ontario

The challenge

Every year, Ontarians generate about 3.7 million tonnes of food and organic waste, and of that amount, around 60 percent is sent to landfills. When we send food and organic waste to landfills, we are not only creating methane gas — a greenhouse gas (GHG) that is 85 times stronger as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide but we also lose all the resources embedded in food, including energy, nutrients and organic matter used to grow, harvest, process, transport and sell food products.

In 2013, the City of Toronto, expanded its Green Bin Program and built its second anaerobic digestion plant designed to divert and revalue a broad range of acceptable materials from landfill and convert them into renewable energy and other beneficial use products. 

To effectively undertake the day-to-day operational management of its $75 million (CDN) facility, the City of Toronto was looking for an expert to manage the operations and maintenance of its plant.

 

Veolia's solution

Veolia has been working hand-in-hand with the facility technology provider and anaerobic digestion expert CCI BioEnergy Inc. (CCI) since 2014 to operate, manage and maintain the City of Toronto Disco Road Organics Processing Facility. By doing so, Veolia ensures that 75,000 metric tonnes — 55% — of the residential and commercial organic waste, including food scraps, soiled paper, disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products and pet waste, generated annually by the residents of Toronto through the Green Bin program are:

  • Pre-Processed: organics undergo a pre-treatment system to remove non-organic materials such as plastic, glass and metal. To minimize the volume of waste sent to landfills, all non-organic materials are washed and pressed prior to disposal.
  • Converted: the remaining contaminant-free organic slurry is processed through an anaerobic digestion system where, over an approximate 15 day period, the organics are converted to biogas and digester solids.
  • Reused:
    • A portion of the biogas is used to provide heating for the facility and for the functioning of the anaerobic digestion system. The remaining biogas will be, starting in 2021, upgraded to renewable natural gas and injected into Ontario's natural gas grid
    • Digester solids are sent on to a composting facility in southern Ontario, where they are used to make a final Class AA compost product that is later on sold to local agricultural, commercial and horticultural markets in Ontario
    • All excess liquids are treated and purified at the on-site water treatment plant before being discharged to the City's sewer

The benefits for our clients

This partnership helps the City of Toronto effectively tackle the food and organic waste challenge in Ontario and establish a resilient, long-term and self-sustaining farm-to-fork supply chain that is built on the principles of sustainability and circularity.


Results:

  • Create a durable closed-loop food and organics system that replaces the end-of-life concept of waste with restoration, maximizes the use of existing resources, addresses the City’s landfill shortages and protects the environment and the community
  • Achieve the goals set in Ontario’s Food and Organic Waste Action Plan
  • Ensure that more than 98% of the organics found in the Green Bin of the City are captured and revalued, which avoids the annual discharge of approximately 50,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — equivalent to removing more than 10,800 cars from the road 
  • Ensure compliance with all provincial environmental laws and regulations related to the collection, transportation, processing and conversion of organics
  • Supply more than 15,000 tonnes of nutrient-rich digester solids for composting, an inexpensive, sustainable and natural method that reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and improves the structure and moisture holding capacity of the soil, traits that are of an economic benefit especially given the high cost of planting and maintaining crops in Ontario
  • Improve the water sufficiency and water recovery of the facility by collecting, purifying and reusing all liquid digestate, rainwater, and all other water used on-site