Waste is an innate by-product of human activity and waste management practices are integral to the sustainability of almost all industries. Such practices are increasingly important for Alberta given the large amount of waste produced and the growing environmental constraints. On a per capita basis, Alberta has the highest rate of waste generation in Canada. Agriculture and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) are the top two sectors that produce the largest quantities of organic waste.
The production and management of waste entails a variety of costs that include substantial environmental costs, missed economic opportunity costs and landfill costs. These are primarily associated with the handling and processing of organic waste (i.e. manure and other substances). As well, the breakdown of organic waste streams generates Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, and, if left untreated or poorly managed, these organic waste streams can become a significant source of air and water pollution. Further, not employing more advanced methods of organic waste disposal that create valuable by products (such as renewable fuel) can be seen as a missed economic opportunity. Given these costs and the greater attention given to environmental constraints and quality, along with the expanding opportunity for livestock production and the growing municipal waste issues, there is a pressing need for solutions. In many jurisdictions at least a partial solution has been the implementation of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and biogas systems.