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Northern Roots Compost

Compost Rooted in the Community

Compost Demonstration Garden

Residents and green thumbs are invited to visit the Northern Roots Compost demonstration garden at Doug Barnes Cabin. A series of raised planters have been installed with Northern Roots Compost mixed with garden soil at different ratios. Visit the garden over the coming months to observe the effectiveness of the compost.

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What is Northern Roots Compost?

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Northern Roots Compost Launch

April 20, 2017 at the Doug Barnes Cabin in Thickwood.

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Related Links

Frequently Asked Questions

Composting at Home

Communities in Bloom Flower of the Year

Key Legislation

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality

Canadian Fertilizers Act and Regulation

T-4-120 - Regulations of Compost under the Fertilizers Act and Regulations

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

As a municipality that embraces sustainability, we place great value on the environment. In fact, our priority is to protect the natural environment, reduce our carbon footprint, minimize landfill waste, and make balanced decisions.

We’ve been branching out as we look for additional ways to be sustainable, both environmentally and economically. In Wood Buffalo, we have plenty of opportunities.

One opportunity is our very own Northern Roots Compost.

Northern Roots Compost is extremely effective and has a wide range of applications, such as enhancing topsoil quality while promoting vegetation growth, water retention and erosion control.

Not only is our compost completely organic, it is also estimated to be very beneficial in reducing costs for capital projects and infrastructure. There’s also the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need to transport soil to Wood Buffalo for construction and landscaping.

What is Northern Roots Compost?

Northern Roots Compost is what we call the compost produced at our Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and Municipal Landfill. We’re using a controlled in-vessel degradation and decomposition process for biosolids and combining it with yard waste and wood collected within the region.

The end product is a nutrient rich, stable compost processed under the same regulations as the compost you would buy from your local garden centre. Those regulations are the Canadian Fertilizer Act and Regulations and the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality.

A Brief History of Biosolids

Biosolids recycling and composting are proven waste management processes that have been used in numerous municipalities across North America for over fifty years. Canadian examples include Edmonton, Kelowna, Jasper and Vancouver. In fact, the application of biosolids and biosolid compost as a fertilizer and soil conditioner has become a widespread practice around the world.

In Wood Buffalo, the Northern Roots Compost initiative launched in 2017. However since 2010, the Municipality has been investigating the feasibility of using composted biosolids in erosion control systems, beautification, reclamation and capital projects such as road construction.

Now we’re planning to expand the program into other types of applications.

What are Biosolids?

The Process Cycle

Northern Roots Compost Infographic

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Wastewater is generated every day throughout the community from showers, sinks, toilets and laundry. This wastewater is collected through the underground sanitary collection system and ultimately ends up at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, so it can be treated to legislated standards and released back in to the environment.

Biosolids are produced as a part of the wastewater treatment process. All municipal wastewater treatment processes generate two primary outputs: a liquid (effluent) and a residual solid material (biosolids).

The liquid is processed as part of wastewater treatment operations, and the biosolid material is mechanically separated at the WWTP. The dewatered biosolids are then sent to our state-of-the-art composting facility for high-temperature pathogen reduction and composting.

What is not as widely known about biosolids is that they are extremely useful and beneficial when further treated to meet regulatory health and safety standards and processed into compost.

Benefits for the Community

Northern Roots Compost can be used in a number of applications from landscaping, boulevards and greenspaces to road construction, erosion control systems, reclamation and capital projects.

Here are some benefits of using Northern Roots Compost:

  • Produced within the community
  • Sustains local employment
  • Completely organic
  • Reduces carbon footprint due to decreased transportation to the region
  • Efficient use of local resources in beautification and capital projects
  • Minimizes impacts on municipal infrastructure and services for storage and disposal
  • Extends the life of municipal landfill by diverting biosolids for use in compost
  • Effective for erosion control
  • Protects water quality
  • Cost savings on supplies for construction
  • Supports beautification and development
  • Enhances greenspaces and recreation spaces

From Biosolids to Compost

Step By Step

Northern Roots Compost Infographic

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Making compost out of biosolids is a fairly lengthy process that can take more than six months. After the biosolids have been treated using an in-vessel, high temperature process to ensure full pathogen and seed kill, the stabilized compost is sent to the landfill to the compost pad. There it is monitored for temperature and moisture, and further aerated during the curing process to remove odour.

Once curing is complete, the compost is tested by a third party laboratory to determine classification according to legislated health and safety standards as set by the Canadian Fertilizer Act and Regulations and the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality.

Northern Roots Compost is classified as a Category A compost. Any compost not meeting the requirements for this category would not be used for Northern Roots Compost.

Local Resource for the Community

As highlighted in Goal 6 of the Municipality’s Strategic Plan, we value the environment as our natural, community and economic foundation. By using locally produced compost, we are Building a Sustainable Region, protecting the natural environment, reducing our carbon footprint, minimizing landfill waste, and making balanced decisions with respect to the environment.

Northern Roots Compost is a local resource rooted in the community, for the community.


Regional Landfill
Phone: 780-743-7947, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Pulse Call Line: 780-743-7000 (evenings, weekends and holidays)
Pulse Online:

Glossary of Terms

Aeration – Aeration is the process of introducing air to the compost where it can cool, cure and recolonize with beneficial bacterial and microbes. Aeration is also part of the odour control process.

Amended soil/soil amendment – Also called a soil conditioner, it is the result of adding materials to soil to improve its physical or chemical properties. Soil amendments can improve the porous quality (ability to permit the flow of fluids) and water retention characteristics of soil.

Biosolids – Solidified organic matter recycled from wastewater after it has been treated. Also used in agriculture as a fertilizer.

Category A - Under the Compost Quality Guidelines of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), Category A means the compost has unrestricted use. It can be used in any application, such as agricultural lands, residential gardens, horticultural operations, the nursery industry and other businesses.

Compost – Compost is the controlled degradation or decomposition of organic material in accordance with federal and provincial standards. The end product is a nutrient rich, sterilized soil amendment comparable to the compost you would buy from your local garden centre.

Degradation/decomposition – A natural biological process through which organic material is reduced to compost.

Effluent – Outflow of treated liquids from a wastewater treatment facility.

Pasteurization – Sterilization through a heated aerobic process. A specific temperature is maintained for a specified duration to kill all bacteria and microorganisms.

Pathogen - Any disease-producing agent, especially bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms.

Rehabilitation – To restore to a good condition.

Sludge – Sludge refers to the residual, semi-solid material that is produced as a by-product during treatment of municipal wastewater. It is the state of biosolids before it has been dewatered.

Sterilization - Any process that eliminates (removes) or kills (deactivates) all forms of life and other biological agents such as pathogens, bacteria, vegetative forms, seeds and spores.

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