Overview

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) regulates all non-agricultural composting facilities. Agricultural composting facilities are those that are on-farm that compost only livestock manures. These facilities are regulated through the Alberta government or the Natural Resources Conservation Board.

Facility types

Composting facilities are categorized as either Class I or Class II Compost facilities. Many of these composting facilities are integrated with other municipal waste management facilities such as landfills and waste transfer stations.

Class I Compost facilities

Class I Compost facilities may accept organics waste that is not hazardous waste. This may include source separated organics, food waste, biosolids and agri-food processing waste.

Class II Compost facilities

Class II Compost facilities accept only manure or vegetative matter. Vegetative matter includes leaf and yard waste, brush and wood waste. Majority of composting facilities in Alberta are Class II facilities.

Notification, Registration and approval

The requirements for composting facilities in Alberta are determined by the type and amount of feedstock collected.

Class I Compost facilities in Alberta that accept up to 20,000 tonnes of feedstock per year require a Registration, and those which accept more than 20,000 tonnes per year require an Approval under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

Class II Compost facilities in Alberta that accept up to 20,000 tonnes of feedstock (manure or vegetative matter) per year require a Notification.

Composting facilities operating under a registration are required to follow the requirements in the Code of Practice for Compost Facilities.

Legislation

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice for Composting Facilities outlines the minimum requirements for the design, construction, operation and reclamation of compost facilities that accept up to 20,000 tonnes of feedstock per year.

Greenhouse gas credits

Composting facilities may qualify for offset credits in Alberta’s carbon offset credit system. Composting facilities that are diverting organic feedstock from landfills can use the "Quantification Protocol for Aerobic Composting" to determine avoided methane emissions from landfills. The opportunity for generating carbon offsets with this protocol arises from aerobically composting organic feedstock that would otherwise anaerobically decompose in landfills and produce methane emissions.

Municipal compost use

While many municipalities are leading the way in diverting organics from landfills for use in composting, some jurisdictions are facing challenges in marketing the resulting compost. As greenspace managers, municipal governments are in a position to address these challenges by applying compost on their own lands.

2012 survey results

More information was needed to better understand current municipal uses of compost in greenspaces and the related barriers and opportunities to use. The department therefore conducted an online municipal survey in the fall of 2012. Thirty-two municipalities responded, representing 70% of Alberta's population.

Key findings include:

  • Only about one third of respondents used compost in their greenspaces.
  • Over half of respondents planned to construct new greenspaces in the next two years.
  • Over one third of municipalities regularly used compost but few had formal municipal council decisions or operational policies supporting these practices.
  • 25% of respondents reported encountering problems or barriers regarding the use of compost in their operations.

For more information, see the report on survey results Municipal Compost Use in Alberta: A Report on Survey Results.

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