Plastics initiative turning waste into energy

A Mountain View Regional Waste Management Commission plastics initiative has expanded far beyond its original intent and is now involved in turning that waste into energy.

A Mountain View Regional Waste Management Commission plastics initiative has expanded far beyond its original intent and is now involved in turning that waste into energy.

Starting as a pilot project, the waste commission accepted farm plastics, including twine, net wrap, tarps and silage plastic at the Olds transfer station. A one-day trial in 2007 hauled in 19,610 kg of farm plastics.

In it’s early stages, the plastics were going as far away as Minnesota before they were recycled.

The project farm plastics recycling project netted the commission an honourable mention from the minister’s awards for municipal excellence.

Now the project has expanded and earned more recognition: an Action Hero Award from the Parkland Airshed Management Zone.

Al Graham, waste commission chief administrative officer, said the group now accepts all plastics, which are being recycled just 40 minutes down Hwy 2 in Airdrie.

“We just solidified a contract with Durham Energy Recovery of Airdrie where we will have all classes of plastics taken right out of our landfill and moved through Durham’s technology to revert all plastics back to diesel fuel,” said Graham.

“We’re pretty proud to be cutting edge with this.”

Graham said a chance meeting with Peter Brown, Durham Energy Recovery president, led to the expanded project.

Through anhydrous pyrolysis, which extracts fuel from end-of-life plastics, the plastic sent to Durham is being converted into both methane and diesel fuel.

While it covers all classes of plastics, Graham said they aren’t taking items that would fall under bottle returns. He said there is a good system in place through the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corp. and they have no interest in changing that.

“We are very pleased to have this alliance,” said Graham. “We have to stop filling these holes in the ground. That’s not our purpose anymore.”

The Durham Energy plant isn’t at full capacity yet. Graham said they have about 300 tonnes of plastic either waiting there or ready to be transported from their site.

The plastics-into-diesel program was recently recognized by the Parkland Airshed Management Zone. The management zone gave out six awards to various programs in the area for their efforts to reduce ground-level ozone, a component of smog.

Other award winners included Red Deer Transit for improving its services; the Red Deer Lodge for being the first hotel in Central Alberta to install an electric car charger; Bonnie Denhaan for spearheading an idle-free campaign at Sunnybrook United Church; Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre for commitment to be an idle-free zone since 2013; and Weber Physiotherapy for posting a sign that asks drivers to turn their engines off.

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