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Oct 14,2010 Tri City News

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Metro Vancouver has no shortage of potential business partners who want to build a new organic biofuel plant in Surrey that will turn food waste into energy.

Thirteen firms are in the running and they're to be winnowed down to a short list by the end of the year ahead of a formal request for proposals call.

The plant will take 80,000 tonnes of household food waste per year  including kitchen scraps, egg shells, paper towels and pizza boxes  that would be ground up into a slurry and digested to produce vehicle-grade fuel.

The resulting natural gas could be used to power local waste and recycling trucks.

The plant will be adjacent to the existing Surrey transfer station in northeast Surrey, near 192 Street and 98A Avenue and could be open by late 2012, according to City of Surrey deputy operations manager Rob Costanzo.

He's confident smell won't be a problem for the plant.

"The odour issue is almost non-existant," Costanzo said, noting a similar organic biofuel plant in Sweden is located next door to a Burger King restaurant.

Prospective bidders are proposing a variety of technologies, including various forms of wet or dry digestion as well as gasification, he said.

Any residual material would likely be composted at a different site.

Metro already contracts with Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre in east Richmond to make compost out of part of the region's organic waste.

The organics plant would serve not just Surrey but potentially nearby cities and commercial supermarkets and restaurants.

If the Surrey pilot project is a success, more Metro Vancouver biofuel plants could spring up around the region, helping the region meet its aim of eliminating all food waste and other organics from the waste stream and increasing the recycling rate to at least 70 per cent.

A significant amount of garbage going to landfills is organic waste, which festers and creates methane that can escape and add to climate change.

Surrey has agreed to sell Metro Vancouver the land for the biofuel plant.

But the property first must be rezoned from light industrial to heavy industrial, Costanzo said.

He said an open house to inform area residents about the project is also being planned for Saturday, Nov. 6. (Details to be posted at www.surrey.ca.)

Surrey and other cities around the region are also moving to collect organic waste from all homes, following the lead of Port Coquitlam, which was the first to implement full organics pickup.

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