City Organics Processing Facility opens
City Organic Processing Facility opens
LOCAL JOURNALISM INITIATIVE REPORTER
Your new green bin is about to receive its initial test as the Organic Processing Facility officially opened at the Lethbridge Waste and Recycling Centre on Wednesday.
The City will begin collecting the organic waste from the new bins beginning next week.
Mayor Blaine Hyggen, along with other members of city council, were present at the opening ceremony and tour of the facility.
Hyggen says the facility was paid for by the federal and provincial governments, alleviating the strain on taxpayers in Lethbridge.
“The most important thing the council looked at was the grant funding received from the federal and provincial governments that really put us to the point where we didn’t have to use taxpayer dollars to construct this facility,” said Hyggen.
The mayor also says the facility will be important to help cut the city’s environmental footprint.
“We’ll cut (our footprint) by 40 per cent … this is something we’re proactive on,” said Hyggen.
The city expects upwards of 13,000 tonnes of compost to be produced every year at the new facility.
Steve Rozee, processing manager with the waste and environment department at the City of Lethbridge, says the benefits of this new facility will outweigh the negatives significantly.
“We have the potential to divert a huge amount of organic material from the landfill, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from the landfill and turning that waste into a beneficial compost,” said Rozee.
He says the new facility meets every expectation, noting how it can compete with similar ones found in other locations.
“This facility is every bit as good as some of the larger facilities you might see in Calgary or elsewhere. It’s slightly different in its configuration, but this is a very high-tech, modern composting facility,” said Rozee.
Furthermore, he says the Lethbridge facility even outstrips some other locations in terms of equipment and technology.
“We have some values adds that not every facility has, that allow us to provide a more rounded suite of services,” said Rozee.
He says the City will ensure they use this facility to its maximum potential, noting how easy it should be with the excellent team working there.
“We have a very good team, we have a very well laid out and planned out facility,” said Rozee.
Furthermore, he says the composting never stops.
“We’ll receive materials all-year-round. The composting process will also continue to operate and produce compost year-round,” said Rozee.
He says the compost produced at the facility will be marketed to a variety of programs, such as agriculture, landscaping and personal use for residents of the city.
However, another benefit is that there will be free compost available as well, according to Rozee.
“There will be free compost occasionally and we’ll try to communicate that so people know when and where that is,” said Rozee.
He says the turn-around time from green bin pick-up to compost that is ready to sell is as short as 44 days, though waiting longer would be beneficial.
“You’d have a finished Category A compost, which you could theoretically market and give away. I would tend towards wanting to rest that compost for another number of weeks . . . if we give it a little extra time to mature and stabilize, it will become a more aesthetically pleasing product,” said Rozee.
The Director of Infrastructure Services with the City, Joel Sanchez, says the construction of the facility was able to meet expectations, even coming in under the budget of $10.6 million.
“The facility was built on time and on budget . . . At the end of the project, we’re going to be either on budget or slightly under,” said Sanchez.
He says this achievement is especially notable due to the project beginning during the COVID pandemic.
“There were some issues with supply chains, with price of materials, but the team was able to work around all those,” said Sanchez.
Keeping inline with his pride of the work completed, Sanchez says the facility is truly top-of-the-line.
“It’s an award-winning facility . . .This facility received an award for environmental design,” said Sanchez.
Furthermore, he mirrored the statements by Hyggen, saying the facility was built entirely by using provincial and federal dollars, rather than taking directly out of the municipal treasury.
“It was all grant funding that we used for this particular project,” said Sanchez.
He says the city owns the property but contracts the operation of it out to another company.
He says this will create new jobs, right here in Lethbridge.
“Two loaders, two equipment operators, a supervisor and people to do the technical analysis,” said Sanchez.
Mayor Hyggen ceremoniously opened the facility by pressing a button to start one of the new machines.
Justin Sibbet, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald