31 Jan 2024

Operator vows swift response to any odour problems at new organics processing plant in Christchurch

6:29 pm on 31 January 2024
Residents listening to Ecogas and Christchurch City Council representatives giving an in-depth presentation about the new organics processing plant at a public meeting in Hornby 28 January, 2024.

Residents got the chance to hear from Ecogas and Christchurch City Council representatives at a meeting on Sunday. Photo: Facebook / Greater Hornby Residents Association Inc

The company behind Christchurch's new organics processing plant is assuring residents it will be designed to manage any unpleasant smells.

Ecogas will build the enclosed plant in Hornby to replace the current open-air model, which has plagued Bromley residents with horrendous stenches for over a decade.

The new plant is expected to be operational in 2026.

Karen Titulaer was one of the Ecogas representatives, who along with Christchurch City Council, presented to a public meeting on Sunday in Hornby.

Objectionable smells was the main question raised - for good reason, Titulaer said.

"We completely understand the concerns of the community and the experiences that they've had. We are trying to give them reassurances... We're designing the plant and its processes to manage the smell," she said.

The plant will operate using anaerobic digestion, which was where micro-organisms broke down organic waste, like food scraps and in the process created by-products such as heat, electricity and gas.

It would take kerbside organics collection and commercial organics waste, Titulaer said.

"We take the food waste and we move it as quickly as we possibly can into tanks. These are fully contained tanks where the process occurs, and because of the processing nature of it, anaerobic digestion actually has a relatively small footprint compared to something such as a composting plant.

"We'll have four tanks initially, and then we have the ability to add more as demand and population grows over time," she said.

The plant would cover a three hectare industrial site in South Hornby, and would initially be capable of processing 100,000 tonnes of organics waste per year, Titulaer said.

It also would have additional capacity to chip 100,000 tonnes of woody green waste into biomass for boilers.

The plant would also be a great opportunity for Christchurch because nearby companies will have access to the by-products it creates, she said.

There had been no odour-related complaints at Ecogas' Reporoa plant - which was being used to inform the design of the Christchurch site, Titulaer confirmed.

Any issues that had been raised in Reporoa were quickly dealt with, an example being the baling of contaminated organics waste to landfill, she said.

"One of the learnings was the way the contaminated waste was being stored, baled and sent to landfill. While we were waiting for that load, that was causing odour. So now we've actually changed the way that is done. It is compacted a lot smaller and it is stored in an area where none of that odour can escape."

The company's preference was eventually to avoid having to send any waste to landfill in future.

Marc Duff, from the Greater Hornby Residents Association, previously told RNZ the information given at the meeting was like: "We were given a recipe of what's coming into our community and what to expect. We were shown pictures of the Reporoa plant and also the one in Auckland, but now what we've got to see is the proof in the pudding".

It was an exciting time for the project, with about half a dozen community representatives from Hornby, Templeton and Prebbleton set to travel to the Reporoa plant next month to see it in action, Titulaer said.

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