Province gives environmental stamp of approval for plastics-to-fuel plant

Sustane Technologies plans to convert up to 50,000 tonnes of municipal garbage per year into fuel and biomass pellets.

Company plans to convert up to 50,000 tonnes of municipal garbage per year into fuel and biomass pellets

Sustane Technologies plans to convert municipal garbage into biomass pellets, fuel and recovered metals. The company is located about 20 minutes inland from Chester, next to the Kaizer Meadow landfill. (Sustane Technologies)

A company that wants to turn plastics into fuel has received environmental assessment approval from the Nova Scotia government. 

Sustane Technologies Inc. plans to bring in up to 50,000 tonnes of municipal garbage per year and convert it into biomass pellets, diesel and kerosene at a plant near Chester, N.S. Some metals are also expected to be recovered.

"We'll be completing the industrial approval in the next 30 to 60 days," said Peter Vinall, company president. "Once that's granted we commence the commissioning of the plant."

The company submitted its environmental studies to the province on July 4, and Environment Minister Margaret Miller released her decision late Thursday afternoon.

"I am satisfied that any adverse effects or significant environmental effects of the undertaking can be adequately mitigated through compliance with the attached terms and conditions," she wrote.

In the initial stages, the Chester-area operation would take in about 10 tonnes of plastic each day. The plastic is separated, cleaned, shredded and then heated until it vaporizes. (John Robertson/CBC)

Those conditions outline what types of raw material the company can bring in. For instance, it can only process plastics obtained from regular garbage, not plastics that have already been separated in blue bags.

The conditions also lay out requirements to monitor the material that will be produced when the plastic is heated and the chemical contents of the fuel that is produced.

Sustane must develop and follow plans to monitor air quality, groundwater, noise levels and the effects of flaring and lighting on birds as well as create a map of species at risk in the project area. The company must also create a contingency plan for accidents.

These conditions must be met before the company can apply for the industrial approval it needs to start operations.

​The company estimates that 90 per cent of the incoming garbage will be diverted from the landfill, and the remaining 10 per cent will go to the Kaizer Meadow dump, which is right next to Sustane.

The plant will produce both synthetic kerosene, which will be used on site to cook the garbage, and about 9,000 litres of synthetic diesel per day, which will be sold.

"We've got one customer signed up for a large portion of that volume," said Vinall. "It's a high-quality fuel. We've done extensive testing."  

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

With files from Pam Berman