Earth Issues

Composting project gets green light

 | May 10, 2013

Comptainer #1 Batch #1 002 After a long process of consultation, research and testing Sun Peaks Utilities Company Ltd. (SPUCL) has begun producing compost, some of which will be available free of charge to Sun Peaks’ ratepayers this spring.

The composting project goes back to 1999 when SPUCL was removing wastewater from solids to create an organic byproduct known as bio-solids or sludge.

Initially, the sludge was shipped to Kamloops for disposal but the expanding Sun Peaks community and increased sewage waste led to growing disposal costs. As a result SPUCL began investigating and testing alternatives, including composting.

After reviewing a long list of potential options by Urban Systems Ltd., SPUCL chose a specific composting system that best suited Sun Peaks’ unique requirements.

“We selected the In-Vessel Composting System because it allowed us to compost in both cold temperatures and dry weather.  (It’s) perfect for Sun Peaks,” explained Pat Miller, SPUCL’s manager.

The In-Vessel Composting system, known as a CompTainer, was developed by Green Mountain Technologies (GMT), a compost technology company run out of Seattle, Wash.

“We wanted someone that was (close to Sun Peaks) to help us out. Green Mountain Technologies was the right size and being based in Washington state was close enough to respond to our needs,” said Miller.

In the summer and fall of 2011, the facility was constructed, but that this was only part of solving the problem.

“The biggest challenge over the past year was getting the recipe correct and the correct amount of air fed into the mixture,” Miller said.

“To create compost you need both organics and carbon. In our case this is made up of bio-solids and wood chips. Also, you need to get the right moisture levels and air mixture so the mixed compost has the ability to heat up,” she said.

Using the system, composting takes place in controlled batches in airtight vessels, loaded by conveyor from inside the processing building. The
CompTainers are heavily insulated to allow for composting in winter’s extreme cold. The resulting compost can be moved and emptied by roll-off trucks. Michael Bryan-Brown, GMT’s president and Sun Peaks skier, confirmed the Sun Peaks project was unique.

Composting projects are run in some other mountain resorts. Whistler’s composting system can include food scraps and other forms of waste, such as disposable coffee cups.

Miller explained that this may be on SPUCL’s horizon.

“At this point we’re focused on only creating compost from the wastewater bio-solids.  Down the road, we may look at working with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the municipality to compost other products,” Miller said.

To pick up compost, residents must first contact the SPUCL office and arrange an appointment. They should take with them shovels and bags.

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