This article is part of a series called Six sustainability ideas that have gone mainstream in Canada. Each article explores an innovative sustainability idea that may have seemed radical a decade ago but is now considered a best practice. The series features inspiring ideas and projects being implemented in Canadian cities and towns of all sizes, plus resources to help you implement these solutions in your community.

City of Saint Hyacinthe vehicles that are fuelled by natural gas.
City of Saint Hyacinthe vehicles that are fuelled by natural gas.

A wasteful challenge: Like many progressive communities, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, faced a significant challenge: how to deal with the region's organic waste and sewage sludge in an economically and environmentally responsible manner. Saint-Hyacinthe's solution, however, was far from commonplace: they decided to turn their waste into biogas.

Sustainable solution: The municipality's solution uses anaerobic digestion to convert waste into a high-quality biosolid and a pipeline-quality biogas that is then used to run municipal vehicles and to heat and cool their buildings. Excess biogas is sold to the regional utility, Gaz Métro. This biomethanation project is a first in Quebec and the winner of the 2016 FCM Sustainable Communities Award for Waste.

Green benefits: The environmental benefits of the project are compelling. It diverts waste from the landfill and significantly reduces both odours and greenhouse gas emissions. But what's grabbing the attention of municipal decision-makers is its financial model: the project is projected to pay for itself by generating millions of dollars in annual savings and revenue.

Success secrets: The keys to Saint-Hyacinthe's success were getting the provincial government onside and developing the knowledge and skills of their own municipal staff to do the work in-house. Municipal staff conducted in-depth research in Europe and worked with the province to develop standards that will pave the way for future projects. 

Interested in turning your organic waste into a biogas resource?

Learn more about the City of Saint-Hyacinthe's project with these resources:

Discover more sustainability ideas and project examples

Read the other articles in this series for more sustainability ideas and project examples that you can use in your community:

This series was inspired by "From Crazy to Common Sense: 'Radical' Ideas Whose Time Have Come," a workshop that was held at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' 2016 Sustainable Communities Conference.

Want to explore all GMF-funded projects? Check out the Projects Database for a complete overview of funded projects and get inspired by municipalities of all sizes, across Canada. 

Visit the projects database