How BCR Environmental is Helping Municipalities Manage the Cost of Waste

Waste: It’s one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges. According to The World Bank, the world is generating 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually. Global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050, which is more than double the population growth over the same period.

Managing waste is also a significant challenge for municipal utilities. In the wastewater sector, the cost of managing biosolids – one of the products that results from treatment – can range from 40-60% of total plant costs. These costs can include hauling biosolids to a landfill and paying tipping fees. As landfills reach capacity and the cost of fuel rises, utilities are struggling to find better solutions.

Waste as a resource

BCR Environmental is transforming the way municipalities treat and manage biosolids and organic wastes. The company offers innovative technologies that convert organic waste streams into safe, valuable, and marketable end products. 

“When we think of biosolids as waste, we limit our options,” says Joshua Scott, CEO of the Florida-based company. “We see biosolids as a resource. They’re part of a circular economy.”

The company’s CleanB® patented advanced oxidation technology treats waste activated sludge and a variety of organic wastes to produce Class B biosolids. The process eliminates the need for complex wastewater treatment infrastructure and requires only minutes to achieve results.

Rather than going to landfill, biosolids that meet federal Class B requirements can be used on land applications. And, by avoiding digestion, CleanB® biosolids retain a higher nutrient content, making them a highly desirable and beneficial reuse product.

“One of the big challenges we’re trying to solve is landfill capacity,” Scott says. “By diverting biosolids into new applications, we can apply the nutrients where they belong – in the soil – and save landfill space for better uses.”

Solving disposal challenges

When Butler County Ohio Water Utility learned that its biosolids disposal option, an area landfill, required significant odour reduction of the biosolids before accepting them, the utility selected BCR’s CleanB® technology to help solve the challenge.

“The utility had discontinued aerobic digestion, and without that process, odour became an issue for the plant’s operators and neighbours – even the landfill turned them away,” Scott explains. “With our solution, there was an incredible change. The operators were stunned. We were able to reduce nutrient concentrations in the  effluent, produce cleaner discharge, and lower the risk of exceeding compliance.”

The CleanB® system now deodorizes up to 18,000 wet tons of sludge per year, creating a Class B biosolid in compliance with state and federal regulations and enabling the facility to eliminate landfill costs and provide an organic fertilizer for beneficial use.

Tackling emissions and energy use

Diverting biosolids from landfills also supports utilities that are committed to achieving net zero emissions. “With any of our systems, we’re reducing the volume of biosolids, which in turn reduces hauling and disposition costs – as well as the need for utilities to truck biosolids offsite,” Scott says. “Our systems installed across North America are saving nearly 9 million pounds of carbon dioxide each month.”

Scott says BCR is also helping utilities reduce their energy bills. “When you compare CleanB® to aerobic digestion, for instance, we need fewer motors, blowers, and pumps. We can do the same job in 10 minutes – that takes about six weeks’ worth of energy out of the equation.”

What’s next?

Scott says the company is focused on strengthening BCR’s technologies and solutions. “We’re looking at process stream challenges for our clients. We see a ton of environmental challenges, we have the experience and expertise to solve them, and we want to be able to offer the whole backend solution.”

In support of this growth, BCR has expanded its operations to include a new technical office in Houston, Texas. The company recently acquired a drying technology and is working on a further acquisition and a new product that Scott says is a “leapfrog” technology.

Working with XPV Water Partners has been hugely beneficial for the company as it makes the transition from a service-oriented company to a process engineering firm, Scott adds. “We’ve gained access to incredible expertise and connections that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

“We’re motivated about the future with respect to our technical capabilities and how they will fuel the company’s direction,” Scott says. “It’s an exciting time for BCR.”