Regional waste organic processing facility proposed for Didsbury

A company that turns organic waste into fertilizer wants to build a plant in Didsbury.

A company that turns organic waste into fertilizer wants to build a plant in Didsbury.

N-Viro Systems Canada LP and the town have signed a letter of intent to build a regional waste organic processing facility in the new Shantz Crossing Business Park.

The plant will be built, owned and operated by Toronto-based N-Viro and waste will be supplied by Didsbury and other Central Alberta communities to be converted into a nutrient-rich fertilizer product.

“The project makes sense economically, and functionally as well, if it truly operates as a regional plant,” said N-Viro president Rob Sampson on Friday.

He expects to return to Central Alberta this fall to visit area communities and pitch them on the merits of sending their organic waste from sewage lagoons, treatment plants, green box programs or other sources to Didsbury.

There have already been some preliminary talks with Canmore.

Didsbury plans to divert organic waste from its wastewater system and household yard and food waste that is now being sent to Olds College for composting.

Communities will pay a processing fee based on contracted supply amounts and revenues will be shared between N-Viro and its municipal suppliers.

Sampson said the more municipalities that sign up the better.

“It’s a business that’s heavily influenced by volume.

“So the more who participate, the lower the net cost to them.”

Plenty of buy-in also means more product, which can be sold to meet what he believes is a strong market for the product.

N-Viro has already built five plants in Canada and others are slated for Banff and India.

The plants produce a product marketed as N-Rich, which can be used as an agriculture fertilizer or for land reclamation.

Almost all organic waste can be used in the process, which takes biosolids, de-waters them, mixes in an alkaline admixture and then dries the concoction. What is created is a fertilizer that is much higher in nutrient value than compost.

It’s an idea whose time has come, he said.

“We need to get a lot more smarter on doing these things, harvesting and recovering nutrients from organic waste, because it just makes no sense to put it in landfills.”

Construction could start as early as next spring. The plant would take about a year to build.

The cost of building the plant ranges from $10-$15 million, depending on the size of the plant and other local factors.

Didsbury Mayor Brian Wittal said in a statement announcing the letter of intent that the town is pleased to welcome N-Viro as its first green business in the business park.

“We are also very keen to see the organic waste from the town converted into much-needed fertilizer for area farmers.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com