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York Region awards $490M contract for organic waste facility

20-year contract approved at committee level to Convertus to create new biofuel facility, transport region's green bin waste
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York Region plans to award a more than $490-million, 20-year contract for a new organic waste processing facility and associated waste transportation. 

Council agreed with a staff recommendation Jan. 12 to approve the deal, which will see The Convertus Group build a York Region-based processing facility for green bin waste that will produce biofuel. This will replace York Region’s existing method of transporting the waste to different facilities outside its borders.

The staff report said that this contract would save the region money versus continuing with current practices. It estimated $85 million in savings over a 20-year term to start in 2027. The report also said there are environmental benefits, with the new plan resulting in an overall emissions reduction.

“Securing long-term capacity allows York Region to continue to meet its waste diversion target, outlined in the SM4RT Living Waste Management Master Plan, in a cost-effective manner,” the report said.

The contract comes after a procurement process dating back to 2020 when the region decided to seek proposals for processing organic waste privately. The region sought a different kind of processing, as opposed to the current aerobic facilities it uses in London and Moose Creek, which emit carbon dioxide. 

Instead, Convertus will produce an anaerobic facility that will produce biogas, which will be converted to renewable biofuel and injected into a local utility grid. The region estimates the change will result in a 15,000-tonne reduction in emissions annually when implemented.

The region said it garnered 11 bids for the contract from six proponents, with Convertus scoring the highest.

Council went into a closed session to discuss two confidential attachments relating to the contract and procurement process. That included details on the other proposals, which staff said was kept private as it could negatively impact proponents bidding for similar contracts elsewhere.

The contract will see Convertus build a York Region facility by March 2027, ready to process organic waste by the time the region’s current contracts expire in June 2027. The report said the facility will process 140,000 tonnes of organic waste per year. The facility will also produce digestate, used as a soil conditioner or fertilizer that Convertus plans to sell to local farmers.

The region also said the new facility will have “enhanced odour control measures” such as air curtains to eliminate odour emissions. The report does not identify where within the region it will get built. 

“The region will benefit from avoided waste transfer fees at the transfer stations and elimination of GHG emissions generated by long-haul transportation vehicles.”

The $490-million figure excludes HST. 

The contract will still need to get final approval at the council meeting later this month.