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Shingle recycler Northstar makes progress on new Calgary facility

IMAGE: The first truck of shingles arriving at Northstar's Delta facility.
The first truck of shingles arriving at Northstar's Delta facility. (Courtesy Northstar Clean Technologies Inc.)

Northstar Clean Technologies Inc. has made significant progress toward its planned Calgary facility by signing a 15-year lease for nearly four acres of land, and an offtake agreement with McAsphalt Industries Ltd. for all of the recycled liquid asphalt production from the facility.

The facility is scheduled to be operational by the first half of 2024.

The Vancouver-based company's process recovers liquid asphalt, fibre and aggregates from single-use asphalt shingles. Called Bitumen Extraction and Separation Technology, it recovers 100 per cent of the constituent components of asphalt shingles that would otherwise be destined for landfills.

Founded in 2015, Northstar completed a $12.24 million financing and listing on the TSX Venture Exchange in July 2021 (ROOF-X). It already runs a 20,000-square-foot pilot facility in Delta, B.C.

“The Delta pilot facility has been operated all last year, and that helped essentially de-risk the Calgary design, is the best way to describe it,” Aidan Mills, Northstar’s president and CEO, told SustainableBiz.

“I would say that we are 99 per cent there in terms of the Calgary design and so all that work has been done both with the operation of the plant, the discussions with the manufacturers, and then actually doing some testing on our product.”

Northstar’s Calgary facility 

The approximately 20,000-square-foot new facility will be located on 3.98 acres of land in Rocky View County just outside Calgary. It is also 4.4 kilometres from the city’s east landfill, ideal to receive feedstock that can be reprocessed at a rate of 150 to 200 tonnes per day.

The lease, from the Mook Group of Companies, has two extension options of five years each. Northstar is able to access the land starting in July.

In February, the company was approved for a $7.1 million grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta to be put toward the facility via its wholly owned subsidiary Empower Environmental Solutions Calgary Ltd.

“We don't need to be spending money and buying land as part of our cap ex. Our business model is to lease land closest to the landfills as we can possibly get, and Mook was just a perfect vehicle to do that,” Mills said. 

“Calgary is attractive from a couple of perspectives. I mean, obviously (there’s) emissions reductions . . . And Calgary is going to be the centre of the energy transition economy. Our production produces asphalt, which comes from heavy oil, which is like the nectar of exactly what heavy oil is produced (into) in Alberta.”

Aside from proximity to industry partners, Carson Sedun, Northstar’s director of corporate development, also stated the lease rate at the Delta facility is much higher.

An independent life-cycle assessment shows estimated annual net savings in emissions for the Calgary facility will be between 3.5 million to 4.7 million kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent.

McAsphalt, a Canadian subsidiary of the French Colas SA, will buy 100 per cent of the liquid asphalt production. It’s a five-year term with automatic three-year renewal options.

The companies will also work together to develop a carbon credit protocol.

Northstar’s 2023 and beyond

Northstar’s Q1 corporate presentation states there is an approximately $9.6-billion market in the U.S. and Canada for its asphalt products.

“As we came out of last year, I would say five to six major multi-billion-dollar North American shingle and flat roof manufacturers had done testing lab testing on the product, and (they said) ‘Okay, let's now move this to manufacturing testing,’ ” Mills said. “They need to formalize that and run plant trials with volume that we supply them, and that's the plan for Q2.”

The company’s first phase of development includes the Calgary facility, another facility in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, followed by a third in the Pacific Northwest, likely in Portland or Seattle.

Mills explained the company thinks it can build three facilities per year and then from 2026 on, license its technology to be built at existing facilities. All of this could include separate agreements with shingle manufacturers akin to McAsphalt.

“An overall build program of three of ours and two licensed plants a year is kind of what we're planning from 2026,” he said.

In November, Northstar signed a letter of intent with another customer to purchase the recycled asphalt from a planned facility in the Pacific Northwest. Both this and the Toronto facility are planned to be operational by the end of 2024.

“Some of the manufacturers are saying to us that's why they're so interested in doing the manufacturing testing, because every one of our facilities will divert 40,000 tonnes of shingles away from landfill (annually),” Mills said. 

“You need to build 400 plants across North America to solve the problem. So it's not like that that's going to happen tomorrow. But at least we believe we've got a technology that works to do that.”

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