These new funds are in the form of a multi-year grant, totaling $2.67 million. It will enable us to double ZooShare’s processing capacity from 17,000 tonnes of organics per year to 30,000+ tonnes, doubling our positive impact on the environment.
With this grant in place, we will continue with our plans to complete construction this year and reach commercial operations in Spring 2020. We will also begin planning the facility’s expansion, which includes a second digestion tank, and the capacity to inject renewable natural gas (RNG) into nearby pipelines.
We’re incredibly thankful to the ECCC, and MP Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough-Rouge Park). Their support will help realize our shared vision of diverting organic waste away from landfills, and using it to produce renewable energy.
We are very pleased to share that on Wednesday July 18th, we successfully commissioned our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit and demonstrated ZooShare’s ability to export power to the Ontario grid–thus meeting the final milestone of our Feed-In-Tariff contract! We now look forward to moving ahead with the next phase of construction.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our partner, Miller Waste Systems Inc., for their incredible dedication to this project. They assisted in completing project designs, securing permits, coordinating vendors and managing the construction work at the site, which required 12+ hour work-days everyday for 3 weeks. A huge, huge thank you.
We would also like to thank the following organizations and partners who assisted us in reaching this milestone:
ANF Energy Solutions
Northern Building Contractors
R.A Graham Electrical Contractors
The Toronto Zoo
Total Power Limited
On a sombre note, you may have heard that the Ontario government recently cancelled 758 renewable energy projects, including 15 biogas plants. ZooShare is not among them. While our contract remains in good standing, we support the Canadian Biogas Association’s stance that, “this decision ignores the environmental benefits [of] clean, safe, locally-generated renewable energy and the many economic benefits including sustainable job creation within Ontario farms, agri-food businesses, and municipalities and millions of dollars of investment in local communities.”
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by clicking the email icon at the top of this screen, or calling the 1-800 number, above.
The ZooShare Team
Daniel, Paul U., Chris, Melissa, John, Victoria, and Paul W.
We are excited to announce that the first piece of our biogas plant has arrived!
On Wednesday, May 9th, our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit, the engine that will generate electricity from zoo poo and food waste, was delivered to the ZooShare site across from the Toronto Zoo.
The unit arrived in two shipping containers from Europe.
ZooShare’s Executive Director, Daniel Bida, was there in-person to meet the delivery. “It was an exciting moment. The CHP is an essential piece of our project, and as the first piece of equipment to arrive, it is the first step towards construction,” he said.
ZooShare’s Executive Director, Daniel Bida, was there to meet the delivery of the engine that will turn poo into power.
So, how does this engine work? Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electrical power and heat. First, biogas powers the engine, then the engine runs an alternator (an electrical generator) which creates renewable power for the Ontario grid. The rotation of the alternator also produces heat–and unlike conventional technologies that waste it by letting it float off into the atmosphere–the efficient CHP unit will capture that heat and use it to warm the ZooShare tanks and buildings on site.
The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit.
The next steps are to connect the CHP unit to the Ontario grid, and then construct the tanks and buildings that make up the rest of the biogas plant.
Make sure to sign up for our newsletter (if you haven’t already) to make sure you are receiving the latest updates from us. We look forward to sharing our progress with you!
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Right now, we are facing a decision that will affect Toronto for the next 50 years. How will we deal with the city’s waste?
A future vision of Toronto. Credit: Flickr/Daniel Calero Jimenez 2014
Over the next 6 months, members of the public and city councillors alike will discuss and debate the fate of Toronto’s waste via the proposed Long Term Waste Management Strategy. At ZooShare, we firmly believe that there is no such thing as “waste”, only wasted resources. But how does a city like Toronto implement this philosophy into a 50-year plan?
A Zero Waste future is “a future where there is no waste, where everything is designed to be reused or to become the materials and resources to create something new”.1 As you know, at ZooShare we’ll be doing just that. There are other local examples too: Take our former contest partners Furniture Bank and/or Toronto Tool Library (read more about each of us in the report). We are all examples of local businesses participating in the circular economy, “where unwanted materials are not disposed in a landfill or incinerator, but…keep valuable resources circulating in the local economy, supporting good green jobs, benefitting the community and reducing harmful environmental impacts”.2
Credit: Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Toronto A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 7
But Toronto still has a ways to go. According to TEA’s report, a lot less could be going to landfills, especially organic waste (food, plant and yard waste). Despite the Green Bin and Yard Composing programmes, 182,000 tonnes of organics are still put in the garbage and sent to the landfill each year!4 This is why waste Education and Effective Communications is one of the priorities outlined in TEA’s report.
Credit: Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Toronto A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 15
Toronto is ready to take the next step towards a zero-waste future. As outlined in TEA’s report: “We have the programs and infrastructure to reduce, reuse and recycle almost all of our waste. We have an excited and robust group of businesses and communities ready to scale up with creative solutions that support a circular economy. Now is the time to continue our zero waste journey.”5
Hopefully, in 2066, Torontonians will be living in a zero-waste city. Make it happen. Do your part now.
1 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 03
2 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 06
3 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 16
4 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 18
5 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 24
The NEW ZooShare bonds are here with holiday cheer!
When we sold out of bonds in March, demand kept growing, so ZooShare developed a plan to offer new bonds that will earn 5% each year for 5 years.
These bonds have no construction risk: They will be held in an escrow account until after the biogas plant is built and will be used to repay the construction loan provided by our technology supplier.
Originally we had intended to borrow these funds from a commercial lender, however, due to overwhelming demand for ZooShare bonds and our preference to borrow from our supporters, we have decided to issue another $2.2M worth of bonds.
Spring cleaning? Donate your things to Furniture Bank and stop “waste” from going to landfills while turning someone’s house into a home…
Like ZooShare, part of Furniture Bank’s mission is to divert “waste” from landfills. Since 1998, Furniture Bank has saved over 320,000 tonnes of furniture from being thrown out. Items are given, at little or no cost, to individuals and families in need. So far, 62,000 people have been made to feel more at home.
A look at some of the quality items donated to Furniture Bank
The History of Furniture Bank
Furniture Bank began almost 20 years ago thanks to one woman and her car: Sister Anne Schenck was working at a refugee centre in Scarborough, when she realized that newcomers to Canada “were literally moving into apartments with nothing”. When the Refugee Centre closed in 1994, “I finally had some time to think about how I’d set up what became Furniture Bank,” says Schenck, adding “There was no business plan. I was just doing what I could do and I started talking about my dream.” As word spread, Torontonians who were downsizing or upgrading saw donating to the Furniture Bank as a “natural opportunity to help,” she says.1 With the help of numerous volunteers, countless hours of pro-bono work and financial donations, small and large, Sister Anne formally incorporated Furniture Bank as a charity in 1998.2
Furniture Bank isn’t simply a warehouse for donated chairs and tables–it is a resource to find the confidence to build a better life. 70+ agencies refer over 5,000 people every year to Furniture Bank. Clients are newcomers to Canada, people transitioning out of homelessness, mothers with children exiting abusive relationships and many others in need.
ZooShare Visits Furniture Bank
ZooShare recently visited Furniture Bank in Etobicoke to learn more about the process: “It was incredible, like walking into an IKEA showroom of quality furniture,” says our Communications Coordinator, Frances Darwin. To learn more, Frances sat down with Noah Kravitz, Community Manager and Fundraising Coordinator at Furniture Bank:
ZooShare sat down with Noah Kravitz, Community Manager and Fundraising Coordinator at Furniture Bank.
“Donations are not limited to furniture,” explains Kravitz. “We also accept artwork, pots and pans, carpets, TVs, computers, printers and small kitchen appliances.” Thinking of getting a new mattress? Even your old bed can be donated. Furniture Bank also works with Sleep Country as part of their Mattress Recycling Programme, receiving 20-25 beds every 2 weeks. Concerned about bed bugs? No need to be. Furniture Bank has a 99.98% prevention rate due to the extreme care of inspection of all donated items (before pick-up, during processing, after processing) and even bring in a special dog once a month to sniff out the little critters, just in case!
Furniture Bank also accepts beds, artwork, pots and pans, carpets, TVs, computers, printers and small kitchen appliances.
Keeping Money in the Bank
How does furniture bank make money? “As a charity, we are grateful for monetary donations, but we also recognized the need to be self-sustainable,” explains Kravitz. For this reason, Furniture Bank launched its Social Enterprise delivery service 10 years ago “which has been the bread and butter since then,” he explains. How does it work? “There is a fee to pick-up your donation, which starts at a competitive $99 $150*.” And why would you choose Furniture Bank over other “junk-haulers”? “Because, as a registered charity, Furniture Bank can issue a “donation-in-kind” tax receipt for the value of the donated furniture. When you donate your furniture, you change a life and reduce you tax bill at the same time!
Recycling Materials into Dollars
In addition to donations and revenues from their pick-up service, Furniture Bank is also able to recycle unsuitable furniture and e-waste to earn additional dollars to help their mission. “Where items aren’t in good enough condition to make it into our showroom, we can recycle the raw materials,” says Kravitz. According to the Furniture Bank blog, over 4500 kgs of cloth and fabrics, 2000 kgs of electronics and 50,000 kgs of metal last year.3
By training and employing youth and newcomers to Canada through a skills training and employment programme, Kravitz says, “Furniture Bank offers employment to individuals facing barriers in our warehouse, call centre, in furniture repair, upholstery and woodworking.” In the near future their employees’ skills will enable Furniture Bank to provide an additional revenue generating arm: a furniture repair service. Are you a carpenter, cabinetmaker, upholsterer or designer? Click here to learn more about how you can help.
Win a $99 $150* furniture pick-ip!
This month, let ZooShare and Furniture Bank help you with your Spring Cleaning. You could win a Furniture Bank pick-up worth $99 $150* when you enter our monthly contest. (Please note: There may be additional charges based on the volume of donated goods and the location of the pickup.) To learn more about Furniture Bank’s pickup service, click here.
1. Interview with Sister Anne Schenck by Cam Gordon: http://www.furniturebank.org/discover-sister-anne-started-furniture-bank/
Last week, the Biogas Association held its annual conference in Hamilton, Ontario, which included a full day of touring nearby biogas plants. The purpose of the tour was to continue the up-close and personal learning that has facilitated the growth in the industry we’ve experienced to date. The conference brings together people and companies from around Ontario, across Canada, and increasingly from the US and Europe as well. The tours are the highlight of the conference for me because they provide the opportunity to see different configurations and strategies for effectively and efficiently converting organic waste into energy and fertilizer. These are the biogas plants we toured:
Toronto’s Disco Rd. green bin processing facility
Eilers Farms – the first hog farm in Ontario with a biogas plant
The Hamilton Wastewater Treatment Plant
Bio-En’s commercial biogas plant in Elmira
Municipal biogas projects have different priorities and constraints compared to farm-based projects, which are also different compared to commercial projects like ours. These factors drive design decisions. Everyone working in the sector has a different approach to creating as much energy as possible while keeping capital and operating costs low. This includes different ways of processing waste (dry vs. wet), as well as different mixing systems and tank configurations. Each approach has its merits of course, so it brings the plant owner back to assessing what the primary goal of the facility is.
It is also important to remember that biogas plants are living systems, and just as living things tend to get sick if not properly cared for, a biogas plant is no different. This doesn’t just mean keeping the machine well oiled, but maintaining a healthy diet that doesn’t change greatly from day to day or week to week. While the odd piece of cake doesn’t hurt, like us, biogas plants won’t be too productive after gorging on certain foods. Just like us, biogas plants have to watch their intake of junk food–actual junk–like plastic, metal, glass, bones and sand. These materials could break the pumps and mixers that keep the big stomach going, while the bone fragments and sand (collectively known as grit) can settle on the digester floor, slowly reducing the digestion capacity over time.
The light fraction of contaminants – plastic bags
Grit and the heavy fraction of contaminants in Toronto’s curbside organics
The biogas tours continue to show me how important it is to design care right into the plant itself. Recipe planning is essential, but also being flexible enough to handle shifts in the recipe. Purchasing sufficient pre-processing equipment to remove as much junk as possible is essential, but having a maintenance plan aimed at minimizing digester downtime is just as important. Without this care and attention to detail, plant performance will suffer, which means more downtime and ultimately reduced profitability.
Just like our bodies, biogas plants work best when the health of their digestive system is at its peak. Should we get sick, a few days off typically resolves the issue. This is where the analogy of a human stomach versus a biogas plant tends to diverge –- a biogas plant cannot take a few days off: Waste management companies and municipalities need somewhere to drop off their waste, because the waste never stops…They would have to deliver it somewhere else–probably less sustainable and more expensive. The biogas plant needs to run with minimal down-time, and to ensure this, it is equipped with multiple redundancies and tested on an ongoing basis, allowing it to be fed 24/7. This satisfies the needs of waste producers, waste haulers and ultimately the people of Ontario consuming the green energy.
All of these lessons have permeated ZooShare’s plans and designs over the years – our focus from the start has been to learn from what is being done around us as the industry grows and evolves. Our biogas plant is essentially a hybrid of the smaller farm-based systems and the larger commercial ones, giving us plenty of examples to draw from to ensure that our gut is healthy and the feeding never needs to stop.
Bonus! Learn what happens to Toronto’s Green Bin Waste
One of the stops on the biogas tour was at Toronto’s Disco Road Green Bin Processing Facility. As many of our members live and work in Toronto, we wanted to share the journey of these organics:
Once the trucks empty the green bin at the curb each week, the waste stream is taken to a transfer station, where all of it is transferred from the smaller trucks making the pick-ups to larger transport trucks. These larger trucks bring the organics to one of two digester projects located within the City, either to Disco Road (near the airport), or the Dufferin Transfer Station (located near Dufferin and the 401).
Upon arrival, the mixture of organics, plastic bags, diapers and everything else that ends up there begins the process by getting tipped onto a big concrete floor in a sealed building.
Toronto’s green bin waste begins its journey from waste to biogas
From here it is loaded onto conveyors by a front-end loader. It is then mixed into large receptacles known as hydro-pulpers, which are used to separate the organic portion from the plastics/metals/other portion. The light and heavy waste products, which collectively make up 19.5% of the total volume entering the facility, are separated here. The remaining mixture is then pumped into centrifuges, which are used to remove the grit (sand, broken glass, broken bones, etc) – collectively totalling another 1.5% of the total volume of material that enters the facility.
All the grit removed from the waste prior to digestion
All together, Disco Rd receives 300 metric tonnes of material per day. After the contaminants have all been removed, the material is then pumped into the digestion tanks, of which there are 2 with capacity of 5,300 m3 each. Digestion occurs over a period of 17/18 days, at which point the facility is left with biogas and digestate. The liquid digestate is reused in the process, while the solid digestate is loaded onto trucks to be taken to a compost facility north of the City for ‘finishing’. Unfortunately, the biogas is currently being flared (burned to neutralize its impact, but not used for energy), however, there are plans to begin generating power in 2017 that will be used to run the facility and adjacent public works yard. All of this is controlled by a computer system, which is monitored 24/7 both onsite and remotely via cell phones.