The Town of Sylvan Lake has signed deals to bring in waste-to-energy technology touted as a Canadian first.
The agreements clears the way for Fogdog Energy Solutions Inc. to seek approval from Alberta Environment and Parks for a facility that can convert almost all landfill waste into a carbon “fluff” that can be processed into hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel and gasoline.
Fogdog has agreed to build and operate what is known as a no landfill disposal facility. It can convert 98 per cent of the 15 tonnes of waste now heading into the town’s landfill daily. Glass and metals would be recycled separately.
Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre is enthusiastic about the signing of a master services agreement and facility ground lease with Fogdog, which will set up its plant in a town industrial park. A separate facility to process the fluff into fuel will be built elsewhere in Central Alberta.
“This is a major step forward and helps establish the Town of Sylvan Lake as a leader in creative waste management and innovation,” says McIntyre in a statement.
The plant fits council’s vision of providing fiscally responsible services and environmental stewardship, he added.
Both agreements have been reviewed closely and the town “is confident that the community stands only to benefit from this innovative means of collecting, converting and reusing waste,” says the town in a news release.
It is hoped the facility will be operating within two years. A full environmental review is required before Alberta Environment and Parks will sign off on the project. Further council approvals and construction will follow.
Fogdog president Marlon Lee sees his venture as “precedent setting” and a workable way using proven technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — up to 30 per cent of which are produced by landfills.
“Having a municipality like Sylvan step forward and moving in that direction, to me, it’s really a precedent and an example for all of the other municipalities in Canada in general,” said Lee in an interview.
Lee said he has been involved in other international projects using the technology. “But this will be the first one for Canada.
“We’re using a technology that’s been around for quite some time and is well proven in Europe and other parts of the world,” he said. “We know that it can be done properly.”
Given the technology’s track record, Lee is not expecting problems receiving Alberta Environment approval.
“There’s no burning, no fire, nothing like that. It should be a smooth process with them.”
Lee intends to market his technology to other municipalities, as well as to Alberta Health Services, which spends millions annually disposing of medical waste. A west central Alberta municipality has already expressed interest in becoming home to the processing facility.
The technology has the potential to make municipalities carbon neutral, or even carbon negative. He calls it a “true climate change process” that will be far more effective than approaches such as carbon taxes.
“I do want to see the powers that be actually open their eyes and say ‘Hey, why aren’t we doing this?’”