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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Northern Roots Compost safe?

A: Yes. Before it is can be used, compost is tested to meet Category A health and safety standards as set by the following regulatory bodies:

  • Canadian Fertilizers Act and Regulation (CFA)
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality
  • Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act

Q: Does Northern Roots Compost have an odour?

A: There is no smell of biosolids. The only odour coming from the compost is that of a rich, earthy smell. Northern Roots Compost goes through an extensive process at high temperatures that kill the bacteria causing the odours and is well aerated before use.

Q: Does Northern Roots Compost contain toxic pollutants or chemicals?

A: No. Northern Roots Compost is chemical free and 100% organic. The process used at the Wastewater Treatment Plant is called a Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR), where natural bacteria are used to clean the sewage with minimal chemical addition.

Q: Can I eat food that has been grown using Northern Roots Compost?

A: Yes you could. Though the Municipality plans on only using compost for construction, enhancing topsoil quality, promoting vegetation growth (not vegetables), and erosion control.

The compost must meet the criteria in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality. This guideline encompasses the regulations outlined in the Fertilizers Act and the Alberta Tier 1 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines.

This means that should edible plants or vegetables be grown with the compost, they would be completely safe to eat for adults, children and animals.

Q: Can I buy Northern Roots Compost for my garden/yard?

A: At this time, Northern Roots Compost is not available for public purchase.

Q: Has Northern Roots Compost been used in our region? If so, where?

A: The Northern Roots Compost initiative launched in 2017, however, the Municipality has been investigating the feasibility of using composted biosolids in erosion control systems, reclamation and capital projects since 2010.

To date, the compost has been used in the closure of the old Fort McMurray and Janvier landfills, as well as the Fort McKay waste transfer station. Compost was used in the topsoil as part of the reclamation of these lands once the facilities were closed down.

Q: Is biosolids compost used in other municipalities in Canada?

A: Yes. There are a number of municipalities across Canada and around the world using biosolids as compost, and the number is growing.

The following are just a few of the Canadian municipalities that are recycling biosolids or using biosolids compost:

Q: How long have biosolids been in use as a compost?

A: Recycling biosolids is not a new waste management concept. In fact, it has been in use for hundreds of years for agricultural applications. In modern society, this concept is being looked at much more closely through research, studies and pilot projects, and is regulated through Federal and Provincial legislation to protect public health and the environment.

Additional information can be found on the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association website.

Q: Does the Municipality save money by using Northern Roots Compost?

A: Yes. There are many cost saving opportunities by using this local resource for capital projects, beautification programs and construction. Trucking and transportation costs are also reduced as less soil and compost are bought externally, which then reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates opportunity for carbon credits. In addition, expenses for processing waste are recouped by reuse of waste rather than disposal, which would take up valuable space in the landfill.

Q: Does it cost the Municipality extra to make compost?

A: Infrastructure is already in place to create compost and operational costs are already included in the regular operating budget. No additional costs are required to make Northern Roots Compost.

As this is a new program, analyses are still under way to determine specific cost savings.

Q: Whom can I contact for questions or concerns about Northern Roots Compost?

A: Please contact the regional landfill at 780-743-7947, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., or email at: solid.waste@rmwb.ca.

Inquiries can be also be directed to the Pulse Call Line: 780-743-7000 or Pulse Online at rmwb.ca/pulse on evenings, weekends and holidays.

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