What is Biomass Waste Management?
In the past century, as the populations of Canada and the United States have grown, become more urban and affluent, production and consumption patterns have changed. These changing patterns have resulted in the over production of certain types of biomass, including livestock manure and bedding, food waste from businesses and municipalities, and sewage.
A strong livestock industry is essential to the economies of Canada and the United States, the viability of many rural communities, and local food security. However, over the past few decades, and in response to market forces, the average size of livestock operations in Canada and the United States has increased. This increase has resulted in the production of greater volumes of manure and bedding on relatively small plots of land. In some areas of Canada and the United States, land application of livestock manure and bedding is also becoming more challenging as a consequence of land use and crop production changes.
Food waste is food that is discarded or cannot be used. Food waste occurs at every level of the food value-chain, from production, to processing, retailing and consumption. Today, it is estimated that almost half of all food produced in Canada and the United States is wasted. While numerous, the largest single contributor to food waste is the consumer, with households accounting for more than half of all waste.
When produced in excess amounts, the storage, transport and disposal of biomass can represent a significant cost to agricultural operations, businesses and municipalities. If stored or land-applied incorrectly, excess biomass can negatively impact environmental and human health, including the degradation of local streams, rivers and lakes, the pollution of drinking water sources, and the deterioration of local air quality.
Today, despite increasing opportunities for biomass renewable energy production, there are times when converting biomass into renewable energy is neither feasible nor the most appropriate course of action. Under these circumstances, biomass waste management technologies should be considered to reduce the financial and environmental costs of managing excess biomass.
For example, agricultural biomass waste management systems can provide opportunities to better manage livestock manure and bedding to protect local streams, rivers and lakes, while reducing commercial fertilizer costs. Municipal biomass waste management systems can significantly reduce the volumes of biomass sent to landfills, thus prolonging the landfill’s life and reducing negative impacts.
Understanding biomass, its characteristics and how to reduce management costs isn’t straightforward or obvious. Knowing the characteristics of your biomass and if it requires pre-processing to make it suitable for a biomass waste management project is important. Biomass volumes, location, availability, tipping fees and storage must be assessed and fully understood. Potential by-products must also be considered as these can add significant cost.
Technical options and site location must be determined for your biomass waste management project. This should be based on type and volume of biomass, infrastructure and cost. A regulatory review to ensure your biomass waste management project meets all necessary local and national regulatory and permitting requirements is also necessary.
Undertaking a biomass waste management project in Canada and the Unites States can be a challenging and daunting prospect. At Hallbar Consulting we know biomass; through our partnership with the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering we work with you to minimize your biomass waste management costs.