Pushing towards a municipal circular economy: SCC’s strategy for finding value by re-using waste products
SCC is a cleantech solutions provider and cleantech R&D company focussed on high performance environmental systems analysis, design, optimization and infrastructure investment planning services. SCC focusses on small and medium-sized municipalities as a key, under serviced market for novel environmental technology in two critical emerging segments:
An important example of the circular economy to consider is phosphorus; how it’s handled and what’s its purpose. The fact that phosphorus is harmful to aquatic ecosystems but is useful as an agricultural fertilizer, for example, is a key motivation for recycling it from lagoons and converting it into a value-add product. Essentially the energy and nutrient value of wastewater and MSW is too valuable to be dead-ended in lagoon sludge or in landfills, which are increasingly costly to operate in any case.
The rural municipal market is a key market segment and is motivated to invest in circular economy technology primarily because of cost escalation and more stringent phosphorus effluent regulations. Municipalities in Western Canada traditionally rely on facultative lagoons for wastewater treatment, many of which are well past their design life and typically require expansion, sludge removal to landfill, or decommissioning and replacement. Escalating land costs also constrain lagoon expansion and landfill expansion. Fortunately, there are now alternative options to consider. Additionally, many municipalities also face escalating energy costs for must-run facilities such as hockey rinks and civic centres and waste-to-energy technology is now a proven alternative to grid energy.
Essentially municipalities face a cluster of different issues that require a systems perspective; escalating land, energy and landfill costs, ratepayer expectations for municipal services, regulator expectation for beneficial use of phosphorus from municipal sludge, and increased demand for soil improvement and organic fertilizers. Integrating technologies proven in Western Canadian conditions will be key to optimizing municipal Return On Investments (ROI). Potential technology packages include:
In the long run, by considering all the economic and environmental benefits of technological integration, municipalities will be better positioned to make the best decisions on essential capital investments that will serve them for many years to come.