Garbage startup

Sustain Technologies has found a way to turn municipal garbage into fuel

PETER VINALL is one of three co-founders behind Sustane Technologies. Started three years ago, the company has developed technology intended to turn municipal garbage into fuel. “We’ve developed a completely different way to process and separate garbage that’s destined for a landfill,” says Vinall, a 35-year veteran of the pulp and paper industry.

In February, Sustane took top prize in the I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition run by Nova Scotia’s Innovacorp.

Sustane’s technology “cooks” and separates municipal garbage. Much of the material is turned into clean-burning biomass pellets — a potential power source for industry. The separated plastic, meanwhile, is turned into oil. Metals are removed, as is the glass and grit, which can be used as aggregate. Sustane will produce revenue by selling the pellets and oil. As well, municipalities will pay Sustane to take their garbage at a price lower than traditional landfilling.

“We have lots of interest across Canada and all over the world,” Vinall says.

The company’s first commercial plant could be running in Chester, N.S. by mid-2017. Vinall says the $15-million project will eventually process all the garbage normally sent to Chester’s Kaizer Meadow landfill. The plant will be designed
to process 50,000 tonnes of trash per year, and will be fueled by the oil it produces.

The Chester plant is also intended to “showcase” Sustane’s technology and prove the “massive environmental benefits.” Vinall argues landfills are a waste of space and major producers of methane. “We see massive opportunity to eliminate landfilling,” he says.

The biggest challenge, according to Vinall, involves actually securing garbage. Municipal officials and landfill operators are often doubtful that Sustane’s technology works. He admits the technology gives off a too-good-to-be-true scent.

“It’s not easy to convince people that something new or different is the future,” he says. “That’s a big part of our mission — to prove people wrong. There is a better way.” —Quentin Casey

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