Today’s Solutions: March 21, 2023

Garbage trucks in Toronto are becoming cleaner – that is, environmentally speaking – as the city has recently launched an initiative to power the vehicles using biogas produced from the very trash they collect.

Starting in March 2020, the city’s fleet of garbage trucks will collect all of the organic waste and food scraps from the Toronto Green Bins and bring them to the facility for processing. The facility will then use anaerobic digesters to capture all of the biogas produced by the waste and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG).

Trash to tanks

After the scraps are dropped off at the facility, the city’s 170 garbage trucks can then immediately fill up their fuel tanks with RNG before heading out to collect more rubbish.

Apart from being more environmentally friendly, RNG is also less expensive than fossil fuels, such as diesel. Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, it can be used to fuel vehicles and even heat people’s homes.

This closed-loop system is just one of the city’s four pre-planned waste-to-RNG production schemes for the coming years.  Other cities have begun launching similar schemes, for example, Barcelona, and we here at The Optimist Daily are thrilled about this!

Update from July 20, 2021: The City of Toronto announced that it will be starting the production of natural gas from it’s Green Bin program.  According to the statement, “the RNG produced will be blended with the natural gas that the City buys to create a low-carbon fuel blend that will be used across the organization to power vehicles and heat City-owned facilities, allowing for a reduction in GHG emissions Citywide.”  The Dufferin Organics Processing Facility was the first to go online in 2021, and will reduce 9,357 tons of carbon dioxide and can process 55,000 tons of organic material per year. The Dufferin Facility is one of the first full-scale anaerobic digestion facilities to operate in North America.

To read more about Toronto’s innovative closed loop biogas project, check out this explainer.

To learn more about how anaerobic digesters work, watch this explainer from Science Animated!

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