Cochranites Kim Caron and Glen Smith are doing their part for the environment by collecting waste and converting it to biofuel. Their business Eco-Growth Environmental Inc. is about saving the environment and money.

Self-described industrial “laundry guys” since 1996, they recognized that their laundry business required a lot of hot water and thus began their journey into the world of biomass energy. Vice-president and director Glen Smith says, “We have a big need for hot water, so when we use biomass in place of a fossil fuel like natural gas our laundry saves about $60,000 a year.” Smith says they started using the fuel option just for that purpose many years ago and are now striving to share the knowledge and technology in areas that don’t have an organics waste program.

Essentially, the process takes organic items that go into our green bins (like food scraps) and are put through a special dehydrator which transforms the waste into biomass energy like a wood chip or wood pellet which is then used in place of fossil fuel.

Last month, Caron and Smith’s company Eco-Growth Environmental Inc. teamed up with the Village of Cremona and the Cremona Bottle Depot to launch a pilot project in the village to provide a residential organics disposal for the area. Smith says, “We were in search of a way to entice the smaller communities outside of the larger centres that do not have an organics program. It’s all about landfill avoidance because when we put stuff in a big pile in the landfill that’s what turns to methane, and we wanted to avoid all that.”

There is now a dehydrator unit in Cremona and residents can drop off their food waste scraps and it is processed. Smith says, “The one in Cremona is about a thousand pound a day unit and that will reduce the material like food waste to about 200 pounds of dry material a day.” For now, the project is excepting only food scrap waste, but Smith explains they can do more. “We have dehydrators that also do grass clippings and those types of things but we’re just going to start small now just ask for food scraps.”

So far, the pilot project which is a free service is being very well received. Smith says, “We are getting a lot of support there’s a lot of popularity and there’s a lot of food scraps being dumped from the households at the Bottle Depot, and we wanted to see if they were doing it voluntarily at first. Which they are which is great, but we want to see how many participate.”

Not only is their product used as a fuel, but it can also be used as a fertilizer and Smith says, “We work with a perma-culturalist here in Alberta he does lots of trials on our product we put it directly back to the soil like an amendment, kind of like a fertilizer.”

Smith says, “I think going forward, what you’re going to see is more people, like you and I, looking towards our garbage can which is about 80 per cent of compatible material that we can use…”

Caron and Smith are looking to expand their project to their own town and are in discussions with the Town of Cochrane.