Ontario relaxing farm bio-gas rules

The Ontario government is changing biogas rules to allow new on-farm biogas systems and expansion of existing systems to be approved more easily and at a lower cost.

The province expects the changes will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting waste from the landfill through increased maximum allowable limits and new types of off-farm anaerobic digestion materials (such as food processing waste and source separated organics) and by encouraging production of renewable natural gas.

There are approximately 40 agri-food anaerobic digesters in the province; located mostly on farms.

Reduced regulatory burden

“By reducing regulatory burden for on-farm anaerobic digesters, we can provide economic solutions to divert more valuable food and organic waste from landfills, while maintaining environmental protections by encouraging the recycling of nutrients and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lisa Thompson, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.

“We’re saving farm businesses time and money to allow them to grow untapped economic opportunities and take advantage of the emerging renewable natural gas market.”

General Regulation O. Reg. 267/03 under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 establishes requirements for regulated mixed anaerobic digestion facilities. It is jointly administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). OMAFRA is responsible for approvals, training and certification. MECP is responsible for inspection and enforcement to ensure compliance.

Changes to the regulations will create opportunities for farmers to treat on-farm materials as well as other types of off-farm food and organic waste materials in on-farm regulated mixed anaerobic digestion facilities. This will enable an increase in on-farm production of biogas to generate renewable natural gas and will provide Ontario farmers with a new source of on-farm income.

The change maintain environmental protections through additional requirements for odour control, material handling prior to land application, digester tank design and setbacks.