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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

In Halton, One’s Man’s Trash is a Region’s Energy

The coming couple of weeks are all about great municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Halton.  Stay tuned for Sustainable Day-Cation series on both Burlington (April 16-20) and Oakville (Dates TBA).  But to satiate your appetite for all things green in Halton, there’s the Halton Eco Festival coming up this Saturday, April 14.  I’ll certainly be there, and I hope that you will make it too.  In the mean time, check out some of the great things being done within the Region turning trash into cash!

Waste Diversion has become one of the focal areas for many GTHA municipalities, and with good reason.  Hauling load after load of garbage to the landfill is an increasingly expensive option, and waste diversion can dramatically lower those costs, and in some cases, even bring in new revenues for things like recycled paper, plastic and metal.

But it wasn’t always that way, and so we have landfills around the region that are filled with trash from decades past, some of which is decomposing, releasing landfill gas as it anaerobically (without the presence of oxygen) breaks down into its component parts.  As this garbage decomposes, it releases tonnes of Landfill Gas.  This gas contains about 50% methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.  However, being a hydrocarbon, methane is also useful as fuel.  Seeing an opportunity to reduce the release of methane while creating energy at the same time, Halton Region partnered with Oakville Hydro to create the Landfill Gas Utilization Project.

Halton's Landfill Gas Capture and Utilization facility: Although it looks small, its environmental benefits are huge!

The Project was opened in 2006, and began producing electricity in 2007.  By using the combustion of methane to power generators, the Region and Oakville Hydro have prevented tonnes of methane from escaping into the atmosphere and also produced enough electricity to power about 550 homes every year.  In addition, the capture process prevents the release of  hydrogen sulfide, thus reducing emissions of harmful (and malodorous!) substances into the atmosphere.

In addition to producing electricity (and subsequently producing financial gains as well), the project also prevents the release of methane into the atmosphere, eliminating the equivalent of over 23,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from going into the atmosphere, the equivalent of removing nearly 4,300 cars from the road every year.  And as if that wasn’t benefit enough, the project also dramatically reduces the unpleasant odours caused by the release of Hydrogen Sulphide into the surrounding area.

The Power Station, where stinky Landfill Gas is turned into electricity...

... and transmitted to the grid via these Power Lines

Halton Region’s Landfill Gas Utilization Project is a perfect example of taking something problematic, like old landfills emitting tonnes of smelly, heavily polluting landfill gas, and turning it into something positive, like clean electricity.  Now that’s trash talk I can really get behind!

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3 Comments on “In Halton, One’s Man’s Trash is a Region’s Energy”

  1. HaltonRecycles April 12, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Halton installed their landfill gas collection system in 2006 as a voluntary early action to capture methane and other pollutants found in landfill gas. It is now mandatory for Ontario landfills of a certain size to have such a system in place, whether they are new or just expanding their existing size.

    Halton’s system allowed for capture of gases in areas of the landfill that were still uncapped and without final cover. As more areas are capped off with clay and topsoil, additional infrastructure will be installed to keep optimal vacuum on those areas as well, keeping more landfill gas out of the atmosphere.

    Because landfill gas has approximately 50% methane content by volume it is important to minimize its emissions where possible to reduce contributions to GHG’s. Methane is 21 to 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, so capturing it and converting it into CO2 through combustion is an improvement worth making. Producing electricity is a beneficial use of that combustion energy that just makes sense as well.

    Thanks for showcasing our facility. We are proud of it and will continue to ensure it remains successful and, above all, safely operated.

    Please visit our blog at http://haltonrecycles.wordpress.com/ for Waste and Recycling commentary and content. You can also follow us on Twitter at #haltonrecycles

    ^ws Halton Region


  1. A Landfill Gas Success Story – Reducing by Capturing | HaltonRecycles - June 18, 2012

    […] Air Partnership’s blog about Halton Region’s landfill gas collection system tells the story of how early-adopters […]

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