City of Burnaby looking into building a $182 million organic waste recycling facility

Feb 11 2023, 4:34 am

The construction of a new municipally-owned and operated Green Recycling Organic Waste (GROW) facility is being contemplated by the City of Burnaby.

According to a recent City staff update to Burnaby City Council on the planning progress for the project, this would not only remove greenhouse gas emissions, but provide a new source of renewable energy and generate new revenue for the municipal government to offset costs.

The findings of a preliminary study recommend the fully-enclosed facility be located at the City-owned property of 4800 Riverbend Drive in the Big Bend area — on a portion of a 100-acre site on the Fraser River waterfront that forms a part of the Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park.

This would necessitate 21 acres — the footprint of the facility — be removed from existing public park uses, which is not currently used for recreational purposes and was previously cleared and used for farming as recent as 1965, according to the City.

It should be noted that this location is strategically immediately adjacent to Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Waste-To-Energy Facility, which incinerates garbage and generates electricity.

Instead of sending food scraps and yard waste from Burnaby homes and businesses to a private composting facility in Delta, the City’s new GROW facility would process up to 150,000 tonnes of organic waste for the needs of both the city and other jurisdictions in the region.

Biogas created from the anaerobic digestion process, which breaks down the organic waste, would be collected and turned into renewable natural gas to power municipal vehicles and facilities, with excess capacity sold to the Fortis BC gas distribution network.

Additionally, heat from the composting and anaerobic digestion process could be recovered for use at a potential district energy utility facility that is co-located at the site.

The facility would also produce thousands of tonnes of high-quality compost each year for sale to farms.

The study found that the facility would generate net revenue of $18.21 per tonne of waste or about $2.7 million annually. The City anticipates its long-term capacity needs are 50,000 tonnes per year, and the remaining capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year would be for revenue-generating commercial purposes.

Currently, the municipal government pays $122.45 per tonne to the Delta facility. Metro Vancouver currently has very few organic waste processing facilities, which has led to high tipping fees and repeated price increases. A City-owned facility would provide residents and businesses with reliable, stable pricing, even when the market is volatile.

green recycling organic waste grow burnaby 4800 riverbend drive

Planned location of the City of Burnaby’s Green Recycling Organic Facility (GROW) at 4800 Riverbend Drive, Burnaby. (Google Maps)

green recycling organic waste grow burnaby 4800 riverbend drive

Planned location of the City of Burnaby’s Green Recycling Organic Facility (GROW) at 4800 Riverbend Drive, Burnaby. (City of Burnaby)

Earlier this week, City Council directed City staff to continue their work on the design and planning, and prepare the site’s rezoning, which is expected for this spring. Currently, the facility carries an estimated $182 million cost, including a 25% contingency for any unexpected cost escalation.

If all goes as planned, if the facility is fully approved, construction could begin in 2024 for completion in 2026.

“GROW is an important step towards becoming a carbon neutral city and an equally important investment in a shift to a more sustainable, circular economy,” said Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley in a statement.

“Green waste from Burnaby homes will become compost for Burnaby gardens and the captured gas will heat Burnaby homes and fuel vehicles. And by having our own facility here in Burnaby, we can create local green jobs.”

It is anticipated GROW will reduce the equivalent of 14,000 tonnes of emissions — equal to taking 3,000 cars off the road — and generate enough renewable natural gas to heat up to 5,000 homes.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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