Moncton solid waste compost

The solid waste is conditioned with lime, and combined with bark, hay and wood chips before it's heated to 75 C to kill bacteria in a process that takes two years. (Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission)

The Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission says residents seem to be embracing its compost made from human excrement.

In 2008 it began making compost from human waste recovered from the city's sewage plant.

Since then, the product has been growing in popularity with those who use it on local gardens, flower beds and lawns, said the commission's Marc Hebert, manager of solid systems and maintenance.

Hebert says the compost site used to see 360 visits when it first started.

"Last summer I would say we had a little over 5,500 visitors so if we can do a little better than that this year we'll be pleased," he said.

Hebert says most visitors are backyard gardeners. He says they've become less hesitant to use the compost, however some newcomers still ask how safe it is.

"Whenever that question arises, which is fairly often, maybe a little less often as time goes by, we just demonstrate the process the product goes through to reach the final stage of finished product," Hebert said.

"They seem to accept that fairly well and realize that it is a Category A product."

Category A refers to the highest quality of compost, according to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). Compost of this quality can be used on agricultural land, horticultural applications, the nursery industry and residential gardens, among other applications.

The compost takes two years to process. Lime is added to the solid waste, and is combined with bark, hay and wood chips.

The substance is then heated to 75 C to kill bacteria.

Ron Hollis, a gardener from the Moncton area, uses the commission's compost program and says the product works wonders.

"Got a load last year for a neighbour and my wife, and they used it around their plants and flowers," Hollis said.

"This year I'm going to expand my use a bit and put a layer over my asparagus bed to help control weeds."

The sewerage commission produces 10,000 tonnes of compost per year.

The site is now expanding after running out of compost last year, said general manager Bernard LeBlanc.

"Now we know it's a successful product so we have to make sure we make the best effort to keep the product moving and deal with all the bio-solids we have as well," said LeBlanc.

Compost is $30 per cubic yard. It's also free to those who wish to shovel it themselves.