Chester gets deal for unique waste management technology

The municipality officially sealed a deal that will "revolutionize" waste management by making the need to bury garbage at its local landfill a thing of the past.

Sustane Technologies to convert 90% of Chester's trash into clean energy

Sustane Technologies says it can turn solid waste into biomass pellets clean enough to be sold to industries. (CBC)

Chester has officially sealed a deal that will "revolutionize" waste management by making the need to bury garbage at its local landfill a thing of the past.

On Friday, the Chester and Halifax based clean tech company Sustane Technologies formally announced an agreement that will see 90 per cent of black bag garbage converted into biomass pellets, recyclable materials, and in the not-too-distant future, diesel fuel.

$16M facility

To make this happen, a new $16 million facility near Chester will be built. The facility will be the first of its kind in North America and debut technology found nowhere else in the world, says Peter Vinall, the co-founder and CEO of Sustane Technologies.

Vinall, who has 35 years of experience working in the pulp and paper industry, partnered with Spanish inventor Javier De La Fuente and local businessman Robert Richardson to pioneer a more sustainable solution to solid waste management.

Waste to clean energy

Due to a breakthrough, he says Sustane Technologies can turn solid waste into biomass pellets clean enough to be sold to industries, such as paper mills and power plants, to use as an energy source much cleaner than coal.

Sustane Technologies already has a contract with Emera to use the biomass pellets that will be made at the future Chester facility to provide fuel for the utility company's power plant in Brooklyn, N.S. 

How the technology works

Vinall says to turn solid waste into biomass pellets and recyclables, Sustane Technologies shreds the waste, cooks it with steam using a patented cooker, then uses propriety screening and separating technologies to remove all contaminants from the biomass.

A disposable wax cup tossed in the trash, for example, would be converted back into pulp fiber and plastic, which could be converted into clean energy and recyclable material.

Goal to eliminate need for landfill

Vinall says the ultimate goal is for Chester to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and never need a landfill again. 

"By eliminating landfills, we eliminate methane emissions from landfills," he says. "In the case of Chester, it will be the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road," said Vinall.

He says he's confident the 10 per cent of solid waste not diverted can eventually be used as an aggregate material for building foundations and making roads.

Plans to break ground this fall

Sustane plans to break ground this fall and be in operation by late 2017. At full capacity, the new facility will operate non-stop to process 150 tonnes of household and commercial waste.

The company plans to hire 25 employees to run the plant.

Municipality of Chester Warden Allen Webber says 35,000 tonnes of garbage a year from Lunenburg County and the Annapolis Valley is being buried at the Kaizer Meadow Solid Waste Facility near Chester.

Value in waste

"We always believed that there was value in that waste, and that to bury it was probably the wrong thing to do. It was just the only technology available to us," he said. 

Webber hopes the municipality's agreement with Sustane Technologies will change the way people think about waste. 

"It turns it into a resource, as opposed to something you have to get rid of in some fashion," he said. "Nobody else can do that at the moment with the technologies that they have, and we think it will revolutionize the way people view waste."

About the Author

Katy Parsons

Producer

Katy Parsons has been a journalist with CBC in Nova Scotia for more than 10 years. She's worked on news, current affairs and lifestyle programming. Contact her with story ideas at katy.parsons@cbc.ca.