Guelph begins composting again

We officially opened Guelph’s new Organic Waste Processing Facility this morning. This is an important milestone for our community: the organic waste that residents and businesses leave at the curb will now be turned into clean, useful compost instead of being shipped to an incinerator in New York State.

The facility was designed and built by Maple Reinders Group Ltd., a firm that specializes in commercial, water, and waste management construction. John Haanstra, who is the Vice President Environmental Construction for Maple Reinders, spoke at the opening and he summed up the significance of the facility this way: “The new compost plant will provide the City of Guelph the ability to further enhance its environmental leadership position in Canada. Through composting, one can take resources otherwise regarded as waste and turn them into valuable environmental resources, realizing landfill and greenhouse gas reductions and at the same time improving soil productivity and water quality.”

The first load of organic waste hits the tip floor.

Click here to read the news release.

Click here to read my remarks from the opening.


About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

Connect with the City of Guelph

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

19 Comments on “Guelph begins composting again”

  1. Luke Boudreau Says:

    I am glad the new facility is finally open, but what bag do we use for the green bin now. I was using a 100% compostable bag that was just left behind today with a sticker saying it does not comply with the city bi-law. I have asked the staff at the Metro grocery store and they say there is no plan to sell any new bags other than the one I am using.

    What can I do here?

  2. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Luke,

    Your organic waste must be placed in a green transparent bag (not a compostable bag). These are definitely available at Metro, as I have purchased them there myself many times. (I believe the brand is “Bag Ladies.”)

    The cart/bin system will not be introduced until 2012, and it will be rolled out to one-third of the city each year. Once bins are introduced, compostable bags will still not be allowed to line the bin (this is a Ministry of the Environment rule). For more information about the cart system, click here:

    I hope this helps. Regards,
    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  3. Jim Grant Says:

    Karen – The below statement was made in the current news release. I am not sure what this means to us as a city. In other words, is this in the bank?

    Is this fund because of the organic facility?
    Will it be applied to the capital expense here (Organic Facility)?
    If not why not and where will it go and why?
    Is this $28mil because of the expense we incurred? In other words, how is it calculated?

    “Between 2010 and 2014, the City of Guelph will receive over $28 million from the Government of Canada’s Gas Tax Fund.”

    Appreciate your response on this.

  4. Jim Grant Says:

    Kate – I wonder about the accuracy of your statement above when you mention that it is a rule of the MOE to not use compostable bags in our bins. Could you clarify this as the C of A I have read for our facility stated something different to me. My understanding was the C of A from the MOE was for the facility only and as such stated that we could not receive any plastics at same. Is there another C of A regarding our collection system/process?

  5. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Jim,

    I’m happy to clarify. The Certificate of Approval for the organics facility states that it “…shall not accept at the Composting Site any Organic Waste that is collected through a waste collection program that allows the use of bags…”
    In short, if we collect the waste in plastic bags, then we cannot compost it at our new composting plant.

    Thanks for seeking clarification. I was trying to keep it simple in order to respond to Luke’s straightforward question about what bag to use, and perhaps I oversimplified it.

    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  6. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Jim,

    Regarding your question about the federal Gas Tax:
    Every municipality in Canada receives a portion of the Gas Tax Fund, and their allocation is based on a per capita formula. You can read more about the federal Gas Tax Fund here:

    Gas tax funds contributed nearly $4.7 million to the organics plant.

    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  7. Jim Grant Says:

    Kate – Thank you for your response however it does answer my questions…
    We understand that $4.7Mil was contributed to the organics facility. Why was there notation in the official news release about a further $28Mil? The government web page does not give us any formulations that I can find. Is this $28Mil attributed to the organics facility and if so will it be applied to our capital expense of the same?

  8. Jim Grant Says:

    Sorry Kate – That last response should have read “does not answer my questions.”

  9. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Jim,
    No, the $28M is not for the organics facility; it’s simply our regular federal gas tax allocation to 2014 that can be used for infrastructure projects.
    The news release was a joint release from the City of Guelph and Government of Canada, and federal ministry staff included the $28 million figure. For more information about it, you can get in touch with the Infrastructure Canada contact listed at the bottom of the release.

    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  10. Jim Grant Says:

    Kate – Thank you for clarifying the news release. I would think that the original way in which it was written could be misinterpreted by anyone, when the release was about our new facility and Guelph. So many of us, must rely on the media printed, when not privy to the live version.

  11. Dan Williams Says:

    Kate, can you clarify the economics of the Organic Waste Plant for me?

    It cost $32 million, right? So how much per year will the plant earn? And how many years will it take to earn back the cost?


  12. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Dan,
    I will look into your question and post an answer as soon as possible.

    I can confirm that the total budget for the Organic Waste Processing Facility (including design, building, project management, securing provincial approvals, and taxes)was $32,825,000. Gas Tax funds provided by the Government of Canada contributed $4,688,000 to the project.

    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  13. ksulliva Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Further to your question about how much the organics plant will earn:
    There is no net profit to our waste management operations that will pay off the capital cost of the organics plant. It costs money to deal with the waste that we produce, as it does in all municipalities.

    Having said that, the City will take advantage of the plant’s excess capacity by processing organic waste from other municipalities, which will generate revenue to reduce the costs paid for by Guelph taxpayers. On the recycling side of our waste management system, we make money from selling recyclables.
    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  14. guelph Says:

    Dear Mayor,
    Kindly let me know what is happening with green bags used as of now and do you compost them separtely.

  15. kfarbridge Says:

    As the commissioning of the new Organic Waste Processing Facility (composting plant) continues over the next few months, increasing amounts of our wet stream (green bags) will be taken by the facility for processing. Within a few months, all of the wet stream will be processed by this facility. In the meantime, any wet waste not being accepted is sent to landfill.

  16. guelph Says:

    Dear Mayor,
    Thank you for the response.
    My question is are u separting the green bags from organics? or they are left in compost?
    Why cannot we used compostable plastics bags to use in the same facility as they will compostable exactly like organic waste?

  17. kfarbridge Says:

    Sorry I misunderstood your question. Yes, currently the plastic bags are separated from the wet waste. They are not left in the compost. Our current Certificate of Approval for the Organic Waste Processing Facility from the Ministry of Environment does not permit the use of bags.

  18. guelph Says:

    Dear Mayor,
    Thank for your prompt reply, i would like to ask one last question
    1. Hamilton has same program and they accept compotsable bags for organic wastes. If the bags are compostable and rated for undergoing composting, what difference it makes?
    2. Why the samething is not allowed in Guelph? Compostable bags undego same kind of decompostion in composting environment?

    May be i am missing point somewhere? kindly let us know about this.

  19. kfarbridge Says:

    The answer is – two different certificate of approvals from the Ministry of Environment with different conditions. I appreciate that might not be the most satisfactory answer. The Ministry of Environment has been concerned about the odours that can develop in bags – compostable or not.

%d bloggers like this: