Varme Energy and Edmonton have agreed to create green electricity and industrial heat from landfill waste at a waste-to-energy facility in Alberta’s capital region.
The project is expected to divert about 150,000 tons of landfill waste each year in the Canadian city starting in 2027 and plans to operate for a 15-year period. The waste-to-energy facility will combust waste to produce steam that is able to create electricity or generate heat for homes and industrial processes.
About 40% of waste from Edmonton is not recycled or composted and may instead be used for reliable clean energy all while reducing emissions and avoiding wasteful land use.
Waste-to-Energy Process Also Able to Capture Carbon Emissions
Verme has used its waste-to-energy process successfully at facilities around the world for over 30 years and plans to also incorporate carbon capture and storage into the new system.
This will allow for the capture of about 90% of emissions from landfill waste, a known cause of highly potent methane emissions. The project will reportedly be Canada’s first industrial-scale, waste-to-energy facility with carbon capture capabilities.
“We are very pleased with this partnership and see it as a positive step in the city’s waste diversion and climate resiliency efforts,” said Denis Jubinville, branch manager of waste services for the City of Edmonton. “As we continue our efforts to help our community reduce and recycle their waste, this alternative is expected to limit landfill use, lower regional greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce the carbon impact of our operations, including our long haul fleet.”
Waste Diversion Technologies Support Local Decarbonization Targets
As cities and municipalities set emissions targets, many have turned to innovative methods for handling waste streams, including technologies that are able to make use of waste, whether for energy generation or creation of new materials.
For instance, Washington state is adopting a recycling process from Planted Materials that may convert organic food waste into cellulose, lipids, and chemicals that may be applied to making new products like paper and bioplastics. Vision RNG and WIN Waste Innovations are also building two sites that will convert landfill gas into renewable natural gas in Ohio.
Landfilling is considered one of the worst ways to handle waste, according to the EPA, but the ability to use harmful gases caused by landfills instead of energy can avoid some of their environmental damage. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that for every 100 pounds of municipal solid waste produced in the United States, 85 pounds may be used to create electricity-generating fuel.
While waste-to-energy methods may help make use of waste, avoiding waste in the first place, reusing materials, and recycling are still considered more environmentally friendly options. A growing number of cities and states across North America are adopting composting services and strengthening recycling infrastructure to keep waste from entering landfills.