Toronto Zoo’s biogas plant now operational

Toronto Zoo’s biogas plant is now operational, transforming manure and food waste into bioenergy and fertiliser.

ZooShare, a community cooperative led by Daniel Bida, pitched its proposal to zoo officials in October 2010. The concept had already been introduced in Munich but had not yet been trialled in North America.

According to Toronto.com, getting ZooShare’s digester built and a contract to feed Ontario’s electricity grid took longer and was more difficult than Bida realised. But on 7 May, the cooperative confirmed it had been producing power since 1 April, reaching its 500 kW capacity, enough to power 500 homes, on 12 April.

Bida, whose company ReGenerate Biogas consults on developing other biogas projects, is “excited” about transforming 2,000 tonnes of zoo manure and 15,000 tonnes of food waste annually into useful products, instead of sending them to landfill. Although he has not said which chain supplies the food waste, Bida started taking deliveries in mid-March.

The plant, which, under a 20-year agreement will provide 10% of profits to the zoo, is “an important lesson for all of us,” according to the zoo’s CEO, Dolf DeJong. ZooShare will reduce the environmental footprint of Toronto Zoo, which used to lay out its manure in windrows on a nearby field.

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