Collection bags are key in reducing the risk of odour nuisances

Several Canadian provinces have introduced regulations governing the issuance of authorization certificates for the operation of composting or biogas facilities, criteria regulating feedstock material and eligible collection bags.

In all cases, the constraints are intended to reduce the risk of odour nuisances, in response to severe problems encountered in several processing facilities, where best practices were not followed.

Some examples:

The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks of Quebec adopted the “Guidelines for the management of composting activities “(MDDEFP, 2012), in which it is stated that:

  • Compostable plastic bags are considered as plastic bags; they are equally likely to generate anaerobic conditions.
  • Paper bags with no film or lined with cellulosic film are not included in this definition, as they are less likely to create anaerobic conditions.
  • A facility that receives source separated organic waste in plastic bags (even if compostable), must be done in closed buildings with negative pressure ventilation and air treatment system during the thermophilic phase (composting) or mixing (biomethanation).  Also, the aging or storing phase for a non-mature product (e.g. digester sludge) must elapse in a covered area.

The Ministry of the Environment of Ontario, in its Guideline for Composting Facilities and Compost Use in Ontario (MEO, 2012) establishes the following regarding the acceptance of plastic bags:

  • The acceptance of materials collected in plastic and/or compostable plastic bags would be discussed as part of the facility’s approval process. Proponents would need to demonstrate to the Ministry that the facility has been designed to adequately manage these materials, including providing sufficient odour control measures to manage the higher odour-generating potential of the feedstock.



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