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Upgrades to organic waste facility in Nanaimo substantially reduce composting time

Expansion makes facility the largest on the Island and one of four of its kind nationally
Regional District of Nanaimo director, Bob Rogers, left, Nanaimo Coun. Don Bonner and Coun. Zeni Maartman, Convertus Group CEO Mike Leopold, Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, Coun. Ben Geselbracht and consulate general of the Netherlands Maarten-den Ouden cut the ribbon following a reopening event for an organic waste facility at Duke Point on Monday, Aug. 29. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

The upgrades at an organic waste facility in Duke Point are being heralded as an improvement “for the next generation” on Vancouver Island.

Convertus Nanaimo, also known as Circular Waste B.C., and the Regional District of Nanaimo revealed the upgrades, derived from Dutch technology, during a re-opening event at the waste facility on Monday, Aug. 29.

Prior to the upgrades, which Convertus Group CEO Mike Leopold said have been in the works for two and a half years, it would typically take the facility six to eight months to produce compost. Organic material such as kitchen scraps and shredded yard waste was aerated and then left in maturation basins so “nature could takes its course” before screening.

The CEO called the new tech in-vessel composting.

“What we do is we bring the organic waste in, we shred it – make it light and fluffy – then we place it in these tunnels and we seal them up and we let the bacteria take over,” he said. “These tunnels keep the bugs happy. And by keeping the bugs happy, the bacteria works at an accelerated rate and it breaks down that organic waste.”

He said that after 15 days in the tunnels, water in the waste material will evaporate, as more than 50 per cent of the material is moisture, and the solids are converted into compost. The compost is then removed and fed into a screening deck. Leopold said usually less than five per cent of the material before screening is sent to landfill and that a portion of the compost is recycled back into the tunnels to act as an inoculate since it has “the good bacteria to kick-start the process.”

He said there is “big demand” for soil that can be blended in different ways to suit the industrial commercial market where it can be used for large projects such as soil remediation.

Sean Kawakami, business development director for Convertus Group, also spoke at the event. Before the upgrade, he said the site was capable of processing 20,000 tonnes of organics per year; however, with the addition of the four tunnels, they were able to nearly triple the processing to up to 58,000 tonnes.

“It will make this the largest current processing site by weight of organics on Vancouver Island,” he said.

Last year, the RDN announced that $3 million was approved for the facility’s upgrades through Clean B.C.’s organics infrastructure and collection program.

According to Kawakami, of the original $25.9 million funding initiative, which was allocated across 23 projects in the province, the Duke Point project was the recipient of the largest share of money.

READ MORE: Regional District of Nanaimo gets $3-million grant to deal with organic waste

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Convertus Group CEO Mike Leopold speaks about the improved compost processing time during a reopening event for an organic waste facility at Duke Point on Monday, Aug. 29. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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