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Compost Centre Transition Plan Community Town Hall

March 16, 2021

Compost Centre Transition Plan Community Town Hall

Thank you to everyone who attended our virtual Community Town Hall on March 16 to discuss the transition plan for the Compost Centre located at Olds College. 

During the last two years the compost centre was operated by a third party company who leased and operated a commercial compost business that provided services to local municipalities and private companies, including the Town of Olds green bin program.

In the summer of 2020, due to the nature and amount of material being composted, combined with the proximity of the site to our college campus facilities, town residents, and rural neighbours, the College decided it was no longer suitable for the site to continue to operate as a commercial compost facility.  

In addition, Olds College determined that operating a commercial compost facility for municipal organic recycling on our campus was no longer in alignment with the College’s academic and research priorities. As a result, Olds College created a plan to transition the site to a non-commercial compost centre by the end of December 2020. 

Effective November 2020 all intake of fresh material ended, and the finished compost along with the tennants equipment was removed from the site. The College officially took over operation of the compost centre on December 1, 2020, one month earlier than planned. 

Due to legal and logistical reasons, actively composting and curing material was not able to be removed from the site. As of early March, there is approximately 3,000 tonnes of composting material and 3,000 tonnes of curing material still on the site. 

The College will be actively managing the composting material throughout the spring to promote good composting conditions that will minimize odour and pest issues. This means adding carbon (straw bales) and turning (aeration) of the windrows to promote aerobic degradation of the material. These activities have already begun and will ramp up over the next few weeks. There may be some odour generation as the material is moved around and windrows reformed over the next few weeks, but this will help minimize odour issues over the longer-term.

The College is engaging with contract equipment operators to manage this active composting process with College staff overseeing the activities and remaining engaged in overall monitoring of the composting process. This includes temperature monitoring, sampling of the material to optimize carbon and moisture content, and assessing the quality of the finished product. 

The College expects the active composting phase to be complete by June 2021. At that time, all of the compost material on site will be put into curing piles for three to four months. While in curing piles, there is little risk of odour generation and the nature of the material should not attract birds in the same way fresh waste does. 

Once the quality of the finished compost can be assessed in July, options to completely remove the cured compost will be evaluated. One option will be to have a third-party processor take all of the material off-site for screening, blending and bagging. Another option will be for the College to screen and sell the final product in bulk or utilize it as a soil amendment on College fields. 

The goal is to have all material currently on-site removed by or before December 2021. Going forward, the College is looking at plans to use the composting site for management of on-campus waste or to support applied research and teaching/learning activities related to waste management. 

The main contributor to the bird, odour and litter issues was the intake of fresh material on a commercial scale which was stopped in November. The remaining material is already partially composted or curing, and the College is actively managing the composting process, so bird, odour and litter issues will be minimized.  

Olds College is committed to being a good neighbour and appreciates feedback on all our campus programs and applied research initiatives. We will be holding a follow-up town hall community meeting in late spring to continue the discussion around the compost centre. If you have questions or concerns about the compost site please contact the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) at or call 403.507.7970.  


Have a question about the Compost Centre?

Call our hotline at 403.507.7970 or email

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