Canada’s first zoo-based biogas facility produces clean, renewable electricity at Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is excited to be the site location of the first biodigester in Canada to use zoo manure and organic waste to produce clean, renewable electricity.

ZooShare announced this summer that the biodigester, located here in Scarborough adjacent to the Toronto Zoo, is now operational and producing electricity.

The biodigester is owned by ZooShare Biogas Cooperative Inc. and has received support from local residents and businesses over the past 10 years to bring this project to fruition.

The facility will accept 15,000 tonnes of inedible food waste and up to 3,000 tonnes of manure from the Toronto Zoo annually. The 500kW Biogas Plant will generate up to 4.1 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy to supply Ontario’s power grid — the equivalent of powering 250 homes per year.

The zoo is proud to be part of this innovative project because it addresses many current environmental issues contributing to climate change and environment degradation.

Anaerobic bacteria digest the organic food waste and manure in a controlled environment. The methane released during this digestion process is captured and used to generate renewable energy.

When food waste and manure rot in landfills or compost piles it releases methane gas — a very potent greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere contributing to climate change. At the ZooShare Biogas Plant the methane is converted into renewable energy.

Canada’s first zoo-based biogas facility produces clean, renewable electricity at Toronto Zoo

Methane is up to 25 times more damaging to the environment as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so any opportunity to reduce the amount of high impacting methane being released into the atmosphere is a step in the right direction.

The biogas plant will reduce CO2-equivalent emissions by 20,000 tonnes each year.

The biodigestion process has other benefits as well. The end product of the biogas process is called digestate which is a natural fertilizer rich in nutrients and microbes. The digestate is sold to local farmers to help fertilize their fields and grow more food.

The ZooShare Biogas Plant is a community effort project. The Toronto Zoo is pleased to support this project which reduces food waste in landfills, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes toward zoo conservation programs for Canada’s wildlife.

Other partners have been important to ZooShare’s vision. ZooShare is a non-profit co-operative supported by its members, along with key partners like Oshawa Power and the Canadian government which have been instrumental in funding the project.

Bullfrog Power is ZooShare’s education sponsor and they have supported the design of biogas education programs delivered by Relay Education to over 20,000 people each year.

These programs inspire and encourage Canadians to see the true value of organic waste as a resource to be managed responsibly. The educational program discussions will explore the food recovery hierarchy, bioenergy and consumption behaviours as climate action.

ZooShare is also a strong supporter of the Toronto Zoo and has committed to contribute towards the zoo’s conservation programs.

Kyla Greenham is manager of conservation programs and environment at the Toronto Zoo.

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