City of Whitehorse Compost Facility Development and Operation

LOCATION: City of Whitehorse, Yukon

YEAR: 2009-10 and 2012-14


  • Design and build composting equipment, provide technical and management expertise, operate composting facility, market compost.

City of Whitehorse Compost Facility Development and Operation

Through the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s several non-profit groups worked to raise awareness in the community about the benefits of diverting organic waste from the landfill, composting it, and then using the finished compost for gardening projects. Eventually, the city of Whitehorse began to take notice, spurred on by the fact that the landfill had a finite lifespan, and that organic waste comprised at least 30% of the material being sent to landfill.
By 2009 the city had rolled out a curb-side residential collection program for organics, heralding the beginning of the first open-air municipal compost facility in the Canadian sub-arctic (and to our knowledge, the circumpolar north). BCE began working with the city to help develop and manage the composting process and equipment, to design and implement a quality control program, and help build public confidence and trust in the finished product and create a market for it.

As far as the big-name civil engineering consulting firms were concerned, open air composting in the north was not practical as it was deemed to be too cold. This was more of an indication of inexperience in the matter, and BCE soon helped demonstrate that CCME Class A pathogen kill thresholds could be maintained year-round, even at minus 40 degrees Celcius. Like most other facilities accepting food waste, physical contamination was (and remains) a major problem, undermining the composting process and public trust in the finished product. As part of BCE’s strategy to tackle this, Whitehorse became the first municipal food waste compost facility in Canada to attain “Approved Input Status” under the newly minted Canada Organic Standard in 2012. This was the highest possible third-party accredited compost quality assurance standard in Canada. It requires not only CCME Class A thresholds to be exceeded, but also a number of other stringent testing and control protocols be maintained. This had the desired result of developing confidence in the finished compost, creating a rapid growth in compost sales and product placement in multi-year agricultural, soil remediation and civil revegetation trials. Eventually, even the city’s own parks department began using compost, perhaps the toughest market to crack.

After racking up several firsts in Canada and the circumpolar north, the Whitehorse compost facility continues to produce high quality compost based on the foundation which BCE played a pivotal role developing and pioneering.

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