When it comes to natural resources, this is about as natural as it gets. A renewable energy project called the ZooShare Biogas Cooperative has gone live at the Toronto Zoo and it’s the first of its kind in Canada and the first zoo biogas plant in North America. It converts 2,000 tonnes of zoo manure and 5,000 tonnes of food waste from stores and businesses around the GTA into renewable power.
ZooShare estimates that the energy they produce could power around 250 homes, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20,000 tonnes per year. Plus, the material can also be used as fertilizer for nearby farms to help them grow crops for the following season.
Basically, the animal and food waste gets taken into the Biogas plant in giant receiving tanks, where it’s pumped into a pasteurization system and then eaten and digested by millions of bacteria. This process converts the waste into biogas over a period of 25 to 30 days. The gas travels down a pipe and is transported to a huge dome-shaped storage tank. You can see a virtual tour of the process here.
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The manure produced from the zebras and giraffes that live at the Toronto Zoo could power a home for 39 days. It’s one of the initiatives that the zoo is taking to fight climate change, which is harming critical ecosystems and contributing to extinction. This project also prevents organic waste from ending up in landfills, which releases greenhouse gas emissions.
You can actually see the Biogas plant in action at Rouge Urban National Park. There are several hikes you can take that will give you views of the plant from a distance, and the best ones are just a few minutes from the trailhead.
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