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Francis Cooke Landfill receives composting accreditation

The Compost Council of Canada has recognized the compost facility at the Francis Cooke Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre through accreditation in its Compost Quality alliance program

BIGHORN – The Francis Cooke Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre compost facility has received accreditation through the Compost Quality Alliance program.

The program, coordinated by the Compost Council of Canada, requires a review, site inspection and interview for prospective compost facilities to be recognized. 

The Francis Cooke Landfill is located east of Exshaw on the 1A Highway and is operated by the Bow Valley Regional Waste Commission. It operates a class II compost facility that is approved to accept soft tissue yard waste such as leaves and grass. It does not accept food organics or any material that could be a wildlife attractant. 

Regional coordinator Peter Duck told the commission's board of directors in July that he applied for the accreditation because there is an opportunity for organics processing in Southern Alberta at the moment. 

"Some time ago, the board asked me to stay involved with organics on a regional basis," Duck said. 

Composting presents new opportunities, said Duck, including the ability to create a sellable product and generate energy through anaerobic digesters, for example. He said there is value to compost for soil health and carbon sequestration as well. 

With several organic composting facilities proposed for the overall region, Duck said by working on ensuring there are locations to divert organic waste from the landfill, there an emerging compost economy forming and that is a good thing for Albertans. 

"We may be one to three years from fruition, but going forward we will have a number of opportunities to make sure organics we are diverting from the landfill have a home to go to," he said. 

Like any sellable product, Duck said reputation for compost material is important. He said the Compost Council of Canada program accreditation helps support that direction being taken. 

The Compost Quality Alliance is a voluntary program that uses standardized testing and uniform operating procedures to build trust in compost materials for consumers. The review process included submitting an application with supporting documentation for operating procedures and lab test results, a site inspection and interview with a peer review committee. 

In Alberta, eight out of 55 facilities have the accreditation. There is an annual $700 fee. 

With Canmore and Banff looking to expand organic diversion and Banff's wastewater treatment plant's N-Viro biosolids process not living up to expectations – there has been an increased focus on the topic of organic composting in the valley.

Currently Canmore ships biosolids for composting to Strickland Farms near Penhold. Canmore's organic composting pilot program, on the other hand, has that material shipped to Banff to be included in its organic composting process, which is shipped to Stoney Soils Products in Olds. 

Banff's N-Viro process involves a lime-amendment applied to the biosolids to create an accredited fertilizer product – which is considered more profitable than a compost product. Recently, however, the company contracted by the municipality to create that product has indicated it was having limited success gaining a foothold in the fertilizer market for western Canada. 

In July, council heard that Walker Environmental was struggling with its business model and officials said the $1.57 million processing facility may not be practical into the future. Banff subsequently put out a request for proposals to truck its 2,500-plus metric tonnes of biosolids to a compost facility in Red Deer County. 

In a report to the board, Duck acknowledged while there is increasing need to expand organic diversion capacity in the region, there are also negative public perceptions around compost facilities. 

–with files from Cathy Ellis