Edmonton's compost centre set to reopen this spring

The city’s composting facility will soon be back up and running after it was closed for six months because of problems in the roof. But it will only be open for the summer.

Compost facility will open for the summer but will have to be replaced within two years

The composting facility at Edmonton's waste management centre was closed in October after engineers found structural problems with the roof. (City of Edmonton)

Eggshells and vegetable peels from Edmonton homes will soon be bound for the city's composting facility for the first time since the centre was closed in October.

The city's waste services branch told the utility committee Monday the facility should be back up and running within two weeks.

It was closed in October after a structural problem was found in the roof that could no longer support the weight of snow. 

With the snow gone, the city says it's safe to reopen the facility.

Mayor Don Iveson said the city will be able to "deal with high season with yard waste and grass clippings, then shut it back down for the winter."

The facility, which diverts about 130,000 tonnes of organic waste a year from landfill, will have to be replaced within a couple of years, said Mike Labrecque, the city's branch manager of waste services.

About 80,000 tonnes of that is food.

Since the composting facility was closed, the city has diverted 44 per cent of waste from landfill, down from 52 per cent previously, Labrecque said.

An audit in February showed the city's waste management system, once considered  world-class, was falling far short of its goal to divert 90 per cent of its regular garbage from landfill.

The fall of the world-leading facility

The city will have to close the existing facility within two years. Instead of lasting the projected 30 years, the centre is now expected to last just over 20 years.

"We made a bet on this technology 20 years ago and turns out, it's not the best choice," Iveson said. "It's certainly frustrating, but it is what it is."

The utility committee heard that the design of the composting facility may have been flawed from the beginning.

But Coun. Ben Henderson said he's not convinced the city should get two more years out of the existing composter if it can only be used in the summer. 

"Limping on for another two years with it may not be the best call even if we can," Henderson said. "At what point do we need to make the call, so that we can actually right this situation?" 

Labrecque said the city will have to determine the requirements for a new composter in conjunction with a new anaerobic digester, scheduled to open in the fall.  

It's costing the city $40 million and is estimated to process 40,000 tonnes of organic waste each year.

The city's waste services branch is reviewing different technologies and the potential costs to demolish the current composter building.  The branch is expected to report back to city councillors in the fall.