Manitoba

Manitoba hopes to stem organic waste emissions at landfills with green impact bond

The Manitoba government is earmarking $1 million for a project it says aims to drive down greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the amount of organic waste heading to local landfills.

Winnipeg-based company to process trashed organics, reduce GHG emissions in 3 rural communities

The Manitoba government says a new green impact bond will help spur innovative solutions to greenhouse gas emissions at landfills through public-private partnerships. (CBC)

The Manitoba government is earmarking $1 million for a project it says aims to drive down greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the amount of organic waste heading to local landfills.

The province announced a green impact bond on Monday in hopes of reducing methane emissions that are released from decaying food and other organics at garbage dumps in three rural areas, said Manitoba's climate minister.

In a news release, Sarah Guillemard said the investment will help prolong the lifespan of landfills and create "clean-growth jobs."

The province has chosen Innovative NRG, headquartered in Winnipeg, as the green impact bond recipient and service provider.

The Pallister government has touted the strengths of social impact bonds in other contexts in recent years. How effective they are as a government tool is a topic of debate among some economists.

Broadly speaking, these bonds involve public-private partnerships. They are intended to tie financial incentives to specific outcomes, with the risk shared by government and business or non-profit partners.

A private investor is paired with a company or non-profit or charity and fronts the costs of a project.

Targets set for Innovative NRG

In this case, if the service provider hits targets, investors may earn up to eight per cent on their investment, said Rochelle Squires, minister of the department of families, which runs the government social innovation office.

Innovative NRG will have to meet a set of waste diversion goals, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and jobs targets agreed to with the province.

Squires said the province would then pay the investor after the life of the project following a third-party assessment of whether targets were met.

The province is looking for investors to join in on the project. More details are available on Manitoba's social innovation office webpage.

500 tonne-target

CBC News requested details on which specific targets Innovative NRG will have to hit. A government spokesperson said the province "will work with the service provider to finalize the targets" and provided no further detail.

Innovative NRG CEO Del Dunford said specific targets agreed to with government include diverting 500 tonnes of waste over the next couple of years. Associated greenhouse gas emission reductions are estimated at 800 kilograms, he said.

Innovative NRG describes itself as a clean technology company founded in 2003.

The company's patented rapid organic conversion technology processes organic waste and waste-water sludge through a process that vaporizes materials, the province said. The gas byproduct is captured and can be used to heat buildings or water.

"By eliminating the need to transport waste to landfills, we eliminate the cost and GHG emissions from transportation and landfilling, and take advantage of a renewable energy resource for economic development in remote and northern Manitoba communities," Dunford said in a government news release.

The units will be placed in landfills in the town of Carman and the rural municipalities of Cartier and Rossburn.

NDP Environment and Climate Change critic Lisa Naylor said the announcement is "nothing more than greenwashing."

"Instead of benefiting private investors, the PC government needs to restore the funding they cut to environmental NGOs [non-governmental organizations], like the Green Action Centre, and work with municipalities to create a composting program that makes it easier for Manitobans to create a cleaner, safer, healthy environment for their kids," Naylor said in a statement.

Select Winnipeg homes will get new indoor trash pails and outdoor curbside bins for food waste this fall. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

Landfill waste is estimated to contribute about 3.3 per cent of Manitoba's yearly greenhouse gas emissions, according to the province. About 40 per cent of landfill waste is believed to be organics, which produces methane as it biodegrades.

The City of Winnipeg is also set to launch its own organic waste diversion program. About 4,000 homeowners will be part of a curbside food waste pilot this fall.

Roughly half of all waste that ends up at the Brady Landfill in Winnipeg is from organics, according to the local non-profit Green Action Centre.

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, climate, health and more. He recently finished up a stint as a producer for CBC's Quirks & Quarks. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

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