Organic Waste Processing Facility

Guelph’s new state of the art Organic Waste Processing Facility (OWPF) processes Guelph’s organic waste into clean, nutrient-rich compost. The facility, located at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre, 110 Dunlop Drive, officially opened on September 27, 2011.

Waste Resource Innovation Centre Public Liaison Committee

This committee was formerly known as the Organic Waste Processing Facility Committee. The scope of this committee has grown to now include the review and exchange of information about the operations of all the facilities at the WRIC.

Waste Diversion Education Centre at the WRIC

The new education centre on waste diversion provides visitors with an understanding of how Guelph’s organics, recyclables and garbage are collected and processed, and how to minimize and divert the amount of garbage we create and send to landfill.

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Plant capacity

  • Guelph currently generates approximately 10,000 tonnes of organic waste each year.
  • Similar to the capacity of the original composting facility, the OWPF is designed to handle 30,000 tonnes of organic material per year to ensure efficiencies of scale (i.e. the minimum capacity in order for the facility to be economically viable) and to allow for future population growth.
  • The amount of organic waste that Guelph generates is expected to grow from approximately 10,000 tonnes to over 16,000 tonnes per year over a 25 year period.
  • To take advantage of its excess plant capacity, the City will benefit by receiving organic waste from other municipalities, which will reduce operating and capital costs. The Region of Waterloo has entered into a contract with AIM to have its organic waste processed at a facility operated by AIM. The Region will pay AIM to process its organics and the City of Guelph would receive compensation from AIM for the use of its facility should the Region of Waterloo have its organic waste processed at Guelph’s facility, reducing costs to Guelph taxpayers

Environmental leadership

Why compost? The OWPF will allow Guelph to re-establish its position as a leader in waste diversion. What’s more, we’ll use less energy and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than we would by transporting organic waste long distances for processing or landfilling. Read more below.

  • Moving ahead with the new OWPF provides a local, long term solution to managing Guelph’s organic waste with more control over future financial costs and environmental impact.
  • The new OWPF uses aerobic, in-vessel composting technology to process organic waste. This technology uses less energy and generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than transporting organic waste long distances for processing, or landfilling organic waste.
  • Processing Guelph’s organic material at the OWPF allows the City to divert waste from disposal and is critical in helping the City achieve the waste diversion targets set out in the Solid Waste Management Master Plan (SWMMP). The SWMMP, which was developed by a public steering committee, identifies three waste diversion targets: 55% by 2011, 65% by 2016 and 70% by 2021. (The City’s current practice of using energy-from-waste is not classified as diversion from disposal by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.)
  • Guelph residents have indicated strong support for the City to improve its waste diversion rate. In a 2008 survey 68% of residents said they want the City to exceed the provincial waste diversion goal of 60%. Another 27% said the City should achieve and maintain the provincial waste diversion target. (City of Guelph Waste Management Survey, April 2008, conducted by Oraclepoll Research. The margin of error for the survey is ± 4.9%, 19/20 times)
  • The new OWPF is in line with the City’s objective to produce less waste per capita than any comparable Canadian city.
  • Guelph’s OWPF will ensure that Guelph’s organic material is processed locally and that the capacity for future growth is accommodated.
  • While AIM is responsible for marketing the finished compost product, the City will receive a limited amount and plans to make it available to residents through local organizations (e.g. Boy Scouts) for the group’s fundraising efforts, as has been done in the past. The details of this program are still to be determined.
  • Cities with composting facilities with excess capacity will be in a stronger economic and environmental position if organic waste diversion becomes regulated in the future, banning it from landfill, a reality for municipalities in Nova Scotia.
  • The Ministry of the Environment advocates for regional waste management facilities. The City of Guelph’s Materials Recovery Facility currently processes recyclable material from outside Guelph and its new OWPF will allow the City to process organics from other municipalities, helping to divert more waste from landfill.
  • Composting organic waste does cost more than burying or burning it. But it is the responsible thing to do in order to reduce climate impacts, divert waste from landfill, and create clean compost that can be put back into the earth.

Frequently asked questions

Who’s involved with the OWPF?

City of Guelph

  • Owner of the new organics facility.

Maple Reinders

  • Facility designer and builder specializing in commercial, water and waste management construction.

AIM Environmental Group

  • Responsible for operating Guelph’s OWPF, including processing the organic material, marketing the finished product, and maintaining the facility for an initial five years with two optional five year periods.
  • Currently contracted to operate another similar large-scale composting facility owned by the City of Hamilton.
  • Responsible for all maintenance costs.


  • Supplier of the OWPF’s biofiltration odour management system.
  • Guelph company that specializes in odour control and biological air pollution control solutions for both municipal and industrial facilities.

Will the OWPF cause off-property odours?

The OWPF design and operations will minimize any potential for off-property odours. The design will use enclosed composting tunnels and working areas, and rapid roll-up truck bay doors and air curtains at the truck entrance doors to prevent the release of odours. The OWPF will include state-of-the-art biofilter technology designed by Biorem for odour treatment. A biofilter uses naturally occurring microbes to degrade odour-causing compounds in the exhaust air, releasing clean air back into the environment. This technology has been successfully used at other locations, including Region of Peel composting facility and the Rothsay Moorefield and Rothsay Dundas animal by-product rendering facilities.

Facility operations will be conducted to minimize the release of odours and include strategies such as a computer controlled monitoring systems that would alert the Operator of any variation in the process conditions. Process conditions (i.e. production levels and airflow) would be adjusted based on changes in the biofilter and inlet conditions.

The facility will apply the best technology design (e.g., biofiltration, air curtains, enclosed composting process, in-doors maturation) and operational practices (i.e., proper equipment maintenance, good housekeeping, training of staff) to minimize odour. The City has committed to timely and comprehensive investigations of any odours occurrences, and will implement appropriate actions to ensure that issues are resolved.

How will the integrity of Guelph’s groundwater and surface water at the OWPF be maintained?

Measures will be taken to eliminate potential for surface water and groundwater contamination from the OWPF processes. The composting process is water starved. This means that there will be no net production of water throughout the entire composting process. Any contaminated water collected through the process will be re-used.

Additionally, a liner will be placed under any sensitive areas of the OWPF to collect any contaminated water that may bypass the primary containment.

Monitoring wells have been installed around the facility and monitoring will continue as part of an annual monitoring program, which is reviewed annually by both external and MOE hydrogeologists.

Will the OWPF create noise?

Any noise associated with the Facility will be minimized through good design and operating practices. All significant stationary noise sources (e.g. pumps) and processing will be located inside the receiving, composting and maturation buildings. Truck bay doors will be managed to keep noise contained. Where possible, fans will be enclosed.

Will dust be generated by the OWPF?

Some dust will be generated; however dust control measures will be in place. Control measures include:

  • Fully enclosed and sealed tunnels (i.e. composting area isolated from other areas)
  • Screening process (i.e. separation of compost and large residual materials) is controlled using a dust collection system
  • Screening process located indoors
  • Airflow in receiving building maintained at six air changes per hour
  • All process air from the building will be directed through the biofilter
  • Best management practices for good housekeeping outside of the buildings

Will the OWPF attract pests?

Good housekeeping practices and processing the organic waste as quickly as possible (i.e. first-in first-out program) will help to ensure pests such as rodents and insects are not attracted to the OWPF. A rodent-resistant “sandwich” wall panel system will also be used to prevent rodents from entering the OWPF.

Will trucks associated with construction and operation of the OWPF cause traffic congestion?

Maple and AIM will develop work plans that minimize any effects of trucks on traffic during both construction and operations. Increases in truck traffic will be less than five per cent of previous levels and the plant’s vehicle traffic will remain small compared to other neighbouring operations. All vehicles will travel along approved truck routes to access the OWPF.