Canadian TV Show Touts Human Waste Recycling
Quebec's Radio Canada show “109” ("cent-neuf") recently aired and produced a two-part documentary on the growing interest in using human waste for fertilizer and for energy.
Quebec's Radio Canada show “109” ("cent-neuf") recently aired and produced a two-part documentary on the growing interest in using human waste for fertilizer and for energy. As the film is described where it is available for viewing online (en français): “In his documentary, ‘L’Or…brun’ [The Golden ... Brown],… the director Mark Thoburn discovered an emerging trend: the recycling of faeces and urine. In the company of "cacalogiste" Montrealer Jack Douglas, we find that some wastewater treatment facilities recycle sewage to make fertilizer…. At Valleyfield, the solid material is dried into thermal energy…. Sewers, the source of profits. It's the gold rush ... brown.” The first part of the film visits wastewater treatment facilities at Valleyfield, QC, where screw-press-dewatered solids are oxidized with a plasma arc system and the remaining solids are land applied and Vermont farms that produce electricity from digestion of manures. After looking at the use of solids, the film turns attention to urine diversion, visiting a Cape Codder’s home where he grows mesclun using aged urine for fertilizer (parts in English, 14:30 minutes into film) and, immediately following, Carol Steinfeld of Concord, MA, author of “Liquid Gold,” which promotes urine separation (also parts in English). Lastly, it discusses the Ostara process of making phosphorus fertilizer from wastewater solids (some English at 19:00 minutes into the film).
The second part of the film focuses on the use of biosolids and other organic residuals in Kristianstad, Sweden, where biomethane from wastewater solids digestion powers cars and buses and use of fossil fuels has been cut by 50% since the early 1990s. As one citizen notes, “everything we used to think of as garbage – that’s energy.” The film looks at the new anaerobic digestion and energy production facility at Ste. Hyacinthe, QC and notes that Montreal, where wastewater solids are currently incinerated with energy recovery, has no concrete plans to recycle its material further.