Waste paper and chicken poop: ‘It’s my dream to work on this’

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Your waste paper in Hay River is about to get a lot more useful.

Kim Rapati has a plan to turn a town with no paper recycling facilities – but plenty of chicken manure – into a centre of composting excellence.

Rapati, who manages the Hay River office of Ecology North, is teaming up with Choice North Farms, the company behind the Polar Egg brand.

“We don’t recycle our paper here and there’s quite a lot of it that goes into the landfill,” Rapati told Moose FM.

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“If there’s a way we can compost the chicken manure and the paper together, to make a really valuable, good agricultural product, then we can kind-of shoot two birds with one stone.

“We can make better waste management happen here in Hay River, and make a really great product to support the growing agricultural industry here.”

Read: Is farming in Hay River about to become a big industry?

Thanks to funding from Environment Canada, Rapati spent last year examining the practicalities of this project alongside a team of experts.

The plan will see Choice North Farms extend its dump site, 25km outside Hay River, to accommodate a composting facility.

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If the project gets the go-ahead, waste paper will be collected from a bin in downtown Hay River (like those in Yellowknife) and mixed with chicken manure at the facility.

“You’ll get a product we can use in lots of different situations,” says Rapati of the finished compost. “For agriculture of course, but also erosion control, mine remediation – there are lots of uses.”

A pilot project is set to take place this spring, which Rapati will use to check her math regarding the precise mix of manure and paper needed to achieve the best compost.

Download: Brochure explaining benefits of a Hay River compost facility (PDF)

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Her main concern is that the town of Hay River may not throw out enough paper to adequately compensate for the sheer amount of available chicken waste.

“We need quite a lot of waste paper because chicken manure is very high in nitrogen, so in order to balance it you need a good amount of carbon,” she explains.

If the pilot is successful, start-up funding for equipment will need to be secured.

Rapati is trying to find territorial and federal sources of money, and is enthusiastic about the future of composting in the town.

“I worked at the centralized compost facility in Yellowknife for one summer, and it’s the best feeling in the world when that compost pile turns and begins to smell like delicious, beautiful soil,” she told Moose FM.

“It’s like my dream to work on this project. It’s just something very unique to Hay River that can make a huge difference in our waste.”

To find out more about Kim Rapati’s project, you can attend an open house at the Hay River library from 12pm till 2pm on Wednesday, January 28. There will be a photo presentation at the same venue from 7pm on Wednesday.

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