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Regional council learns about mixed waste pre-sort technology



The Durham York Energy Centre is one of the destinations for waste after it finds its way through the mixed waste technology coming with the region’s new anaerobic digester.

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

As the region delves deeper into the process of bringing an anaerobic digester to Durham, regional councillors are seeking to better understand how the system works.

Speaking in front of the region’s works committee, Durham’s Manager of Waste Planning and Technical Services Gio Anello explained how the new mixed waste pre-sort technology begins with the garbage and recycling found at the curb in residential areas, before being sorted with the mixed waste pre-sort technology.

From the mixed waste pre-sort technology, waste will be sent to one of a few places.

First, garbage will be sent to the Durham York Energy Centre (DYEC) and converted into energy. Then, organics will be sent to the anaerobic digester.

“Along with the green bin materials, we will then be able to create a digestate, and a biofuel which we’re hoping to create into a renewable natural gas,” explains Anello.

He says after a composition study was conducted, regional staff were able to determine there was an opportunity available, as 49 per cent of waste going to the DYEC is organics suitable for converting.

The main objectives of the mixed waste pre-sort technology is to remove organics, non-combustibles, and recyclables with a positive marketing potential from the waste heading to the DYEC.

While Anello isn’t able to give a precise example of what technology will initially be used for the process, he does note there are several options available. These options include a bag opener, which he says will rip open bags and spread the garbage, and there will need to be technology for either manual and/or mechanical sorting.

“[Manual sorting is used] to make sure there’s nothing going in that system that could damage the material, or damage the equipment,” he explains.

This could include larger items, such as cardboard.

Mechanical sorting will be based on a number of different characteristics, including size, shape, density, and colour.

Finally, he notes 80 to 90 per cent of the sorting will be done by artificial intelligence, which will help the region to save funds.

Anello explains studies have been done showing artificial intelligence has outperformed humans and was less expensive to maintain.