‘Waste’ not, want not: Round-the-clock RNG production in Canada’s largest city

Enbridge Gas, City of Toronto announce solid waste facility is producing carbon-neutral energy 24/7/365

Sorry NYC, Toronto’s about to become the city that never sleeps—at least when it comes to producing renewable natural gas.

Today, Enbridge Gas Inc. and the City of Toronto announced that following a biogas equipment upgrade, one of the municipality’s solid waste facilities is producing carbon-neutral RNG from organic waste—24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“This municipal project is the first in Ontario to convert green bin organic waste into RNG that’s injected into the gas distribution system,” says Gord Lau, RNG manager at Enbridge Gas. “It’s just one way Enbridge Gas is supporting the City of Toronto’s ongoing efforts to produce RNG from waste and use it to reduce the municipality’s energy costs and overall carbon footprint.”

The Dufferin Organics Processing Facility, in the city’s northwest end, processes about 35% of the municipality’s organic waste – about 55,000 tonnes annually.

In collaboration with Enbridge Gas, the round-the-clock production of RNG is expected to generate about 3.3 million cubic metres of the carbon-neutral energy a year. That’s enough to blend 7% RNG into the natural gas that fuels the city’s solid waste collection truck fleet, creating a virtuous circle in which the vehicles run in part on energy created from the very waste they collect. Any RNG that’s not used to fuel vehicles will be injected into Enbridge Gas’ distribution system to be consumed in city-owned municipal buildings. 

Converting 55,000 tonnes of organic waste into RNG will eliminate more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, and supports the city’s climate action strategy, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050 from a 2017 baseline.

“This project represents a path to low-carbon fuel for the city and will play an important role in helping us reach our TransformTO goal of becoming net zero by 2050 or sooner,” says Mayor John Tory. “Climate action remains a top priority for Toronto, with climate change and resilience identified as one of the focuses of the city’s COVID-19 recovery and rebuild work.”

The collaboration with the city of Toronto is the latest example of the strides Enbridge is making to support RNG markets in Ontario, Quebec and across Canada.

In Quebec, where natural gas utilities were required to have 1% RNG in their distribution system as of Jan. 1, 2020, our Gatineau, QC-based affiliate Gazifère launched a voluntary RNG program in September 2020, offering customers the opportunity to increase the amount of RNG they pay for, up to 100% of their consumption.

In April 2021, Enbridge Gas launched its own voluntary pilot program that allows customers to contribute $2 through their monthly bill to help add RNG to the utility’s overall gas supply.

Earlier that same month, Enbridge Inc. announced it was joining forces with Walker Industries and Comcor Environmental to accelerate the development of RNG from Canada’s more than 10,000 landfill sites. That announcement followed an October 2020 groundbreaking for what will be Ontario’s largest RNG plant in Niagara Falls.

“RNG presents a tremendous opportunity to decarbonize our economy more affordably by leveraging existing energy infrastructure, while at the same time stimulating regional economic development,” says Cynthia Hansen, Enbridge’s Executive Vice President and President of Gas Distribution and Storage. “This initiative is a practical example of the many ways that natural gas, working as part of an integrated system, can collaborate in a net-zero carbon future.”

(TOP PHOTO: The Dufferin Organics Processing Facility in Toronto processes about 35% of the municipality's organic waste, about 55,000 tonnes annually.)