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Biogas company aims to heat homes with the power of panda poop

Last Updated Apr 19, 2016 at 8:49 pm EDT

There’s always been something smelly east of Meadowvale Road.

But now, the stench is getting sweeter.

ZooShare – a renewable energy co-operative – broke ground Tuesday on North America’s first ever zoo-based biogas plant.

The facility is being built on three hectares of land across the street from the Toronto Zoo and is taking over its composting facility, using the 3,000 tons of waste the animals produce each year to generate power.

Poop will be mixed with 14,000 tons of local grocery store waste, and will generate energy to power 250 homes for a year.

“[It’s] really a big concrete stomach,” says ZooShare Executive Director Daniel Bida, describing how the biogas plant will operate.

“If you feed organic waste into this concrete stomach, over a period of about 30 days, methane will be produced that can be used to generate electricity.”

Bida says burning the methane gas will create some emissions, but adds this is greatly offset by the positive impact of diverting waste from the landfill, where it would produce methane gas that would be released into the atmosphere regardless.

According to ZooShare’s website, the biogas plant’s operations will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 10,000 tons of C02 annually. And afterwards, the waste can still be used as a nutrient-rich form of fertilizer.