Driving Value Generation – and Economic Development – from Biosolids Management

In 2016 and 2017, OWC received financial support from the Province of Ontario’s Business Growth Initiative (BGI) as a Cleantech Sector Support Organization. This support was renewed for 2018/19, with the inclusion of OWC in the ministry’s Cleantech Sector Strategy as a cleantech accelerator.

This continued support allows OWC to leverage the significant investment by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) that enabled the creation of OWC’s Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) program. Through AWT, a number of projects have been supported in the area of wastewater management, including novel technologies for wastewater treatment, dewatering and biosolids management (including generating renewable natural gas from biosolids).

This segment of the water technology sector – focused on minimizing volumes of, and generating value from wastewater biosolids – is a major strength in the province. In addition to the technology leadership, we have globally recognized academic expertise in the area. And with government identifying priorities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and recovering resources from all waste, there is a tremendous opportunity for leadership and successful economic growth.

OWC has established an expert Working Group to support this initiative. To date, OWC has undertaken or supported the following initiatives as part of the “Value Generation from Biosolids” Working Group.


Article: “Stars are aligning for generating value from wastewater in Ontario”. This was published in Water Canada online.

Report #1: “Needs Assessment for Sludge Processing Technologies in Ontario.” Funded by OWC, Professor Wayne Parker and Associate Research Professor Chao Jin of University of Waterloo undertook this detailed compilation of data about sludge management practices and the disposition of biosolids from wastewater treatment plants in Ontario. The report reviews emerging technologies for incorporation into wastewater treatment to drive more value generation including energy recovery and nutrient recovery for land application. And it summarizes the drivers that municipalities are facing that will exert pressure for enhanced capacity.

Executive Summary
Full Report

Report #2: “Evaluating the Capacity of Ontario Municipal Sludge Digesters to Process Off-site Organics.” Funded by OWC, Professor Wayne Parker and Associate Research Professor Chao Jin of University of Waterloo undertook this study to estimate the capacity of existing anaerobic digesters at wastewater treatment plants in Ontario to accept source-separated organics (ex. food waste).  It evaluates both current capacity and potential capacity with upgraded digesters or incorporation of innovative pretreatment technologies.

Full Report

Report #3: “Alternative Techniques for Characterizing Plastics in Organic Waste Stream.” Funded by OWC, Professor Wayne Parker of University of Waterloo undertook this study to investigate modern, accurate, and efficient techniques to characterize and quantify plastic contamination in organic waste streams. It consists of a review of conventional and emerging technologies and methods that could be used to implement rigorous quality control protocols to reduce future plastic contamination.

Full Report

ERO submissions regarding Organics and Waste Reduction: In response to requests for input from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks regarding Organics and Waste Reduction, the Working Group submitted responses to the following Environmental Registry of Ontario postings with recommendations for taking an integrated approach to organics management that will enable the province to optimize current capacity in anaerobic digestion and drive volume minimization, energy and resource recovery opportunities for wastewater facilities.

Discussion Paper: Addressing Food and Organic Waste in Ontario

> Response by Biosolids Working Group (July 2017)

Discussion Paper: Proposed Food and Organic Waste Framework

> Response by Biosolids Working Group (January 2018)

Discussion Paper: Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities

> Response by SOWC (April 2019)

Request for Input: Changes to Biogas Rules for Farms to Increase Economic Opportunity in Ontario’s Renewable Natural Gas Sector

> Response by Ontario Water Consortium (January 2020)

The final Action Plan and Framework have now been posted:


The Working Group’s recommendations were reflected in two important policy statements in the final Framework:

6.15 Existing wastewater treatment infrastructure may be considered to process source separated food waste, where there exists (or can be created, for example through approaches such as optimization, infrastructure upgrades or adoption of advanced technology) excess capacity to create high-value end-products.

6.16 Municipalities are encouraged to plan for the management and beneficial use of biosolids, including considering new and enhanced biosolids processing technologies and co-management practices that support volume minimization and nutrient recovery.

Industry / HQP engagement: In 2017 and again in 2018, OWC held 3 “collision days” with graduate students and post-docs from across its post-secondary institution membership, each hosted by an industry partner. Students provided 3-minute thesis presentations that gave industry hosts a window into current research topics. And the students were exposed to insights and advice from practitioners – from human resources to researchers and senior management. Seven students were also supported in their participation at the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) 2017 annual conference and 8 students will be supported to participate in the Ecotechnologies for Wastewater Treatment (EcoSTP) international conference in London, ON.

“Trojan Technologies and SOWC team up to provide graduate students the chance to learn about water technology innovation in the private sector”

“OCWA & SOWC Helping Students Transition to Work”

“GE and SOWC collaborate on engagement day to offer graduate students career insights into water technology sector”

Related AWT Projects:

For a list of biosolids-related AWT projects, please see our complete list of approved AWT projects.

Working Group Members

Youngseck Hong, Senior Technology Leader, SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions (Chair)
Youngseck is currently a senior technology leader in SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions. He is leading a biological technology development program. He has accumulated more than 20 years of experience in project management, new product introduction (NPI), cost reduction engineering, and technology development and evaluations. He is the 2012 GE technology award (customer value) winner with LEAP mbr development. Youngseck’s engineering specialties include: Anaerobic biological process for wastewater treatment, Ultrafiltration (UF) and membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology, Biofilm process (MABR) technology, Chemical precipitation process and Process modeling of water and wastewater systems. He is an industry professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at McMaster University.

Ted Mao, VP Research, Trojan Technologies (Vice-Chair)
Ted has been with Trojan since 1998, and is currently the Vice President, Research. He has led the formation of a world-class research team, helped to develop innovative water treatment technologies and successfully built a global network of external collaboration partners.
Prior to joining Trojan, Ted held leadership and technical positions at ABB and RWDI Inc. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Beijing Institute of Chemical Technologies, and Master and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto. He is a Professional Engineer and an adjunct professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto.

Phil Sidhwa, President, Orgatec Energy Inc. 
Phil is currently the owner and president of Orgatec Energy Inc. and previously was Vice President, Canada of Anaergia Inc. Phil’s career spans 27 years and includes success in public works infrastructure development, management, and operations; including integrated management solutions relating to sustainability and climate change, for organics, renewable energy, solid waste, biosolids and wastewater. He brings thorough knowledge in all aspects of executive management and government relations and is recognized for being a trusted expert by industry, government, and media in wastewater, biosolids, and solid waste challenges.
In addition to being the Chair of OWC’s Biosolids Working Group, Phil is a member of several industry associations, including past-chair of the Ontario Biosolids Utilization Committee’s (BUC) Biosolids Task Force and member of the Ontario Biogas Association.

Shelly Bonte-Gelok, Program Manager (Biosolids, Organics and Resource Recovery), Ontario Clean Water Agency
Shelly has a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Guelph and has worked in government, private industry, consulting and at the Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre. At the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks over 16 years, Shelly is a past chair of the WEAO Residuals and Biosolids Committee and was the chair of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s Biosolids Task Group when the Canada-wide Approach for the Management of Wastewater Biosolids was approved by Ministers.  For the past 10 years she has been collaborating with municipalities, wastewater treatment plant operators and academia to investigate sewage biosolids quality and potential impacts from the land application of sewage biosolids.  In addition, Shelly has worked on standards and policy related to biosolids, organic residuals and hauled sewage (septage).

In January 2019 Shelly joined the Ontario Clean Water Agency as the Program Manager, Biosolids, Organics and Resource Recovery.

Sarah Mason-Renton, Business Development Manager, Lystek International

Sarah Mason-Renton is a Business Development Manager at Lystek International Inc. She completed her Doctorate in Geography, Environment, and Sustainability at Western University. Her dissertation examined the facility siting processes and the public perceptions of the beneficial use of biosolids in Ontario, Canada. She also has an Honors BSc in Cellular Biology, 15 peer-reviewed publications, and over eight years’ experience working with interdisciplinary teams that include private and public sector partners in the biosolids management and resource recovery sectors across North America. Sarah is the Chair of the WEAO Residuals and Biosolids Committee and an active member on the Canadian Biosolids Network Steering Committee.

Bill Mullin, Business Development Manager, Biorem
Bill is a dedicated environmental and biosolids professional engineer with deep experience and expertise. Over the last 15 years, Bill has been leading business development activities for two successful and local Ontario companies, Lystek International and Biorem. In addition to OWC’s Biosolid’s Working Group, Bill maintains an active membership in the Biosolids Committee of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association, the Biosolids and Residuals Committee of the Water Environment Federation, and is a Board Member of the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association.
Bill combines industry leadership with an MBA from Queen’s University, and demonstrated his passion for local innovation through as a previous entrepreneur-in-residence with Innovation Guelph.

Sheng Chang, Associate Professor, University of Guelph
Dr. Sheng Chang completed his PhD on membrane filtration in the University of New South Wales, Australia, in 2001. He worked as a research associate in the University of New South Wales from 2001 to 2005 and a Research Engineer with GE Water, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, from 2005 to 2009. He currently is an Associate Professor in School of Engineering, University of Guelph. His research interests include biological wastewater treatment, MBR process optimization, and hollow fiber membrane filtration, and advanced anaerobic digestion.

Wayne Parker, Professor, University of Waterloo
Dr. Wayne Parker completed his PhD in 1991 in Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo where he is currently a Professor with research interests including anaerobic membrane bioreactors for wastewater and sludge treatment, fate of emerging contaminants in wastewater systems, pretreatment of sludge for enhanced digestion, advanced sludge digestion processes and nutrient recovery from wastewater.
Wayne participates on several industry associations, has over 100 publications, and is a sought after expert in this field. In addition, Wayne has fulfilled roles within the University as the Director of the Centre for Control of Emerging Contaminants, the Associate Dean of Co-Operative Education and Professional Affairs, and most recently as the Acting Dean for the Faculty of Engineering.

Don Hoekstra, Director of Innovation, Technology, and Alternative Delivery, Ontario Clean Water Agency
Don has been involved in the wastewater treatment and residuals/biosolids management business for over 30 years and currently leads an innovation team at the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) responsible for assessing, piloting, and demonstrating new water and wastewater technologies. In his previous role with OCWA, he led the development of P3 partnerships for the implementation of municipal biosolids management solutions.
Don is a founding member and past-chair of the Water Environment Association of Ontario’s (WEAO) Residuals and Biosolids Committee. He has also been trained by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) as a “Biosolids Technical Spokesperson” and has served as such to WEAO.

Sangeeta Chopra, Director, Process Optimization and Technical Services, Ontario Clean Water Agency
Sangeeta is a professional engineer with fifteen years of experience in leadership, management and consulting in the water, wastewater and biosolids areas. She has managed multi-disciplinary teams on municipal and industrial projects in Canada and internationally throughout her professional career. At OCWA, Sangeeta provides engineering and technical services to municipalities and other client groups in the areas of capital projects and execution, energy optimization, feasibility studies, asset management, distribution system evaluations and technical studies and reviews.

Brenda Lucas, Executive Director, OWC
Brenda has led the implementation of OWC’s demonstration platform and the growth of the organization since it was created in 2011. Brenda has a decade of experience in the water policy and research community in Canada, developing networks and collaborative projects. She has previously worked with a private foundation, non-profit organizations and as a Senior Policy Advisor to two provincial Ministers of the Environment. She is a member of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW Canada) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA).

Rahim Kanji, Manager of Industry Partnerships, OWC
As Manager, Industry Partnerships, Rahim is the primary interface between OWC and its industry partners, ensuring active liaison, outreach, user engagement and project development support. Prior to his engagement with OWC, Rahim spent the past 10 years in various private and public sector roles providing him with expertise in systems commissioning, technical sales, commercialization, industry liaison and project management. His educational background consists of an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology, both from the University of Waterloo, and he is also a professional engineer (P.Eng.).

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