Edmonton, Alberta, to Turn Most Trash Into Biofuels

With a new garbage-to-biofuel facility set to be operational by late 2011, Edmonton expects to reduce Alberta’s carbon footprint by 6 million tons over 25 years.

by / September 10, 2010

In Edmonton, Alberta, one man’s trash will soon be another man’s gas. In late August the city officially started construction on what’s being touted as the world’s first industrial-level municipal waste-to-biofuels facility.

The $80 million facility, expected to come online late next year, will convert 100,000 tons of the city’s trash a year over to 9.5 million gallons of biofuel. According to the city, that will reduce Alberta’s carbon footprint by 6 million tons over the next 25 years. That’s equal to taking 42,000 cars off the road every year.

As the feedstock for producing biofuels, municipal solid waste that cannot be recycled or composted will be processed at the plant rather than sent to a landfill.

“Edmonton’s environmental leadership has us continually looking to set the bar higher,” said Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel in a press release. “As a result of this facility, we will become the first major city in North America to see 90 percent of residential waste diverted from landfill by 2013.”

Owned and operated by Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, the facility will also create more than 50 permanent jobs and contribute to the federal and provincial renewable fuel standards, according to the city. At the groundbreaking, officials called the project an example of the government helping develop leading-edge renewable and non-renewable energy technology.

According to the city, the facility is part of a larger $131 million initiative that includes a feedstock preparation facility and an Advanced Energy Research Facility. The plant represents a shift toward the construction of large-scale biofuel facilities, said Vincent Chornet, Enerkem’s president and CEO.

“This groundbreaking marks the launch of a transformative project and leads the first wave of commercial-scale advanced biorefineries in North America,” he said.

Edmonton contributed $42 million to the total project, but will most likely recoup costs with savings from not throwing things out and using renewable energy.

“Edmonton’s garbage trucks may soon begin refueling with biofuels made from the waste that they delivered just days earlier,” wrote blogger Eric Loveday at Autoblog Green. “How’s that for a closed loop?”

For more information on this project, visit edmontonbiofuels.ca.