Wood Pellet Ash as an Agricultural Soil Amendment

The use of wood pellet stoves and boilers in the Northwest Territories is increasing quickly as more people convert to biomass heating systems. Approximately 90 tonnes of wood pellet ash were produced from industrial, commercial and residential boilers and stoves in 2013.

Samples of fly ash and bottom ash from wood pellet boilers and stoves were analyzed to determine their suitability as an agricultural soil amendment, including fertilizing potential as well as testing physical characteristics and concentration of elements or compounds that could be toxic or limiting to plant growth. Wood pellet ash is rich in potassium and certain micronutrients. It is also highly alkaline and has high acid neutralizing values. The author found that wood pellet ash added safely to compost at a maximum of 5-15% of total compost weight can enrich it in a variety of nutrients. Ash can be a valuable addition to compost especially during the early decomposition stages. Wood pellet ash must be monitored in compost in order to avoid alkaline shock and reduced productivity.

Click below to view the report:

Wood Pellet Ash as an Agricultural Soil Amendment in the Northwest Territories

Clean Start: Hazardous Waste Stockpiles in the Sahtu

In 2013 and 2014, Ecology North partnered with Sahtu communities to tackle the challenge of hazardous waste that has accumulated in municipal solid waste disposal sites over decades. Much of this waste comes from non-municipal sources such as industry and government.

Together with municipalities and with support from the GNWT departments of ENR and MACA, we were able to develop itemized inventories of hazardous waste in the solid waste facilities in the communities of Norman Wells, Tulita, Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope. A lot of the waste was tidied up, labeled and repacked so that much of it is now ready for transport out of the communities and disposal at appropriate facilities that are able to handle these kinds of waste.

The project also helped to draw attention to the challenge, and we are hopeful that federal, territorial and municipal jurisdictions will be able to work together to dispose of the waste in the future.

Biodiesel Project

In 2009, Yellowknife resident Daniel Gillis began experiments to create biodiesel and use it in his diesel truck and oil stove. Dan surveyed Yellowknife restaurants in early 2010 to determine that about 84,000 litres of used vegetable oil was being produced and landfilled each year. In September of 2010, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and Government of the Northwest Territories – Environment and Natural Resources (GNWT-ENR) agreed to fund an expanded biodiesel project that would include renting an appropriate facility and producing biodiesel as a pilot project with the intent of the project eventually becoming a self-sustaining business. This funded project officially began in October 2010. The goals of the project were to create an alternative home heating fuel, divert used vegetable oil (UVO) from the landfill, create a feasible business model, and pass the knowledge of the project on to others.

Restaurants in Yellowknife produced approximately 84,000 litres of waste vegetable oil in 2010.  Funded by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency in 2011, Ecology North worked with Dwayne Wohlgemuth to conduct research to find out how feasible it would be to transform this waste oil into biodiesel for use in diesel powered vehicles.  The study found that burning used vegetable oil in boilers to heat buildings was a more economically feasible solution to the problem. If you’d like  to know more about this project you can read and download the final report here.

Click below to view the report:

Feasibility of Biodiesel Production and Direct Use of Used Vegetable Oil for Heating in the City of Yellowknife

Yellowknife Centralized Composting Program

The Yellowknife Centralized Compost Program diverts organic waste into the YK Centralized Compost Facility, where it is processed into finished compost. The program began in September 2009, diverting food and yard waste from the landfill, and we continue to look for ways to increase the participation of residents and businesses.

Normally, all of this waste would just be landfilled, where it would sit, rot, and release methane into the environment. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21x more potent than carbon dioxide! In its first five years, the Yellowknife Centralized Compost Program managed to reduce the release of over 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses into the environment. This is like taking 45 cars off the road every year for the last five years. Way to go Yellowknife!

Who participates?

In November 2014, curb-side collection was introduced to Range Lake residents as part of the City of Yellowknife’s four-year compost program roll-out. The program has since expanded to include all neighbourhoods in Yellowknife as of September 2017, as well as several businesses.

How can out-of-town/off-grid residents participate?

There is a special bin for household food scraps and yard waste located next to the salvage area at the Solid Waste Facility. It is labeled “Organic materials only” and it is free of charge to drop off your appropriate waste there.

What Goes In?

Unlike backyard composting, the centralized compost program can accept materials such as meat, fish, bones and dairy products. The large windrows (long piles) at the centralized compost facility reach sustained high temperatures (above 55°C) that properly decompose and destroy any harmful organisms associated with these items.

Things that DO NOT belong in your green bin include: glossy magazines, biodegradable bags, any sort of plastic (including plastic bags and fruit trays), clean cardboard (which should be recycled), disposable coffee cups, styrofoam.

Click here for more information on Dos and Don’ts

Interested in comics about compost? http://www.thecomicstrips.com/subject/The-Compost-Comic-Strips.php