When you think of the Dr. Seuss movie, The Lorax, do you think of the cute creatures, or the environmental message? North Forge East’s very own, Carbon Lock Technologies, chose Pinawa for their pilot project this year and are working on reducing the amount of organic waste that’s being sent to local landfills. Their innovative system is designed to take organic waste and convert it to biochar, having the positive effect of removing carbon from entering the earth’s atmosphere - permanently!
From lawn-cutting businesses as teenagers, to using lawn clippings as a biochar-producing material, Carbon Lock Co-Founders Kevin Danner and Terry Gray have built quite the friendship over the years. The Carbon Lock project breakthrough actually began years ago, at a time when Kevin was working with the Manitoba Government.
“My daughter did a science fair project on biochar. And so we bought some biochar, she planted plants, put new beans, and measured how they grew. In spring, I took the leftover biochar, went out to the front yard, and I put it in the garden myself. And as I was, my neighbor came directly over and asked, “is that biochar?” And I said, “Yes, it is.” And of the strangest coincidence, my neighbor had in his possession a small prototype machine for producing biochar. Combining our newfound interest in biochar, with this generous offer to take this machine, and Terry & I were back in business!”
One of Carbon Lock’s goals is to reduce the amount of waste entering landfills. The measurable opportunity is to extend the life of the landfills by a lot. Meaning you could use the landfills for 6-10 times longer than you normally would. And it all began with a 2021 summertime pilot project in partnership with the Local Government District of Pinawa, Pinawa Community Development Corporation, and with technology accelerator North Forge East.
Carbon Lock’s pilot project saw the Local Government District of Pinawa dropping off lawn clippings from residents of Pinawa which Kevin and Terry could work with. “Instead of going to the landfill, we took that material, dried it, reduced it in size, chopped it up, and fed it into our proprietary system to produce biochar,” Kevin shared. “This very stable form of carbon would then naturally be put back into gardens and soil where it's sequestered, and remains there for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”
Carbon Lock Technologies became a North Forge East client in the summer of 2019. Kevin explains Carbon Lock chose Pinawa specifically because of the presence of North Forge East. “We were able to use North Forge East’s offices for frequent business meetings, because we weren't just processing grass; we still had to do everything else that every other entrepreneur has to do to build a business, so it was just an ideal place to be for us. A great resource, good people, and we’re very happy to have this kind of partnership.”
Through the support of North Forge East and President Shane Li, Carbon Lock has since been granted approval from Manitoba’s Innovation Growth Program for $75,000 to continue helping local municipalities reduce the methane gas in landfills, as well to helping support Carbon Lock’s continued efforts in Pinawa, Manitoba.
On September 15th of 2021, Carbon Lock held an open house event for the public, which was well received. Founders Terry Gray and Kevin Danner were able to hand out pamphlets and physical samples of biochar created using grass clippings through the Pinawa-based Summertime project. The sample that was given was also attached with instructions on how the biochar could be used to help a garden’s growth, bringing the project’s benefits full-circle to include local community residents as well.
This clean technology project and the growth of Carbon Lock Technologies not only improves landfill longevity and soil health, but has a direct impact on our local community of Pinawa, Manitoba in its effort to build a greener community.
Blair Skinner, Mayor of the Local Government District of Pinawa proudly shared his perspective on the clean tech project. “Council and staff enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to partner with North Forge East and Carbon Lock Technologies on their pilot project to test their prototype device for converting organic waste into stable carbon. Pinawa is a very entrepreneurial community and we easily embraced Carbon Lock’s long-term vision to reduce the volume of organic materials entering the landfill, thus extending the life of the landfill, permanently sequestering carbon from entering the atmosphere in the form of methane, reducing future carbon taxes on methane, reducing scavenging of the landfill by wildlife, and other potential benefits. Indeed, it is a specific goal of Pinawa’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan to identify and implement projects to reduce community Greenhouse Gas emissions. We are looking forward to further partnership opportunities when Carbon Lock Technologies is ready to test the next version of their prototype.”
The Honorable Wayne Ewasko, MLA for Lac Du Bonnet Constituency and the Minister of Early Education and Early Childhood Learning, shared encouraging remarks as well. “We are thrilled to have Carbon Lock Technologies and North Forge East choose the Local Government District of Pinawa to launch their pilot project. Partnerships like this help to extend the lifespan of landfills in our constituency and reduce the amount of organic waste being dumped. We’re looking forward to seeing what the next phase of this partnership will bring to Manitoba, both economically and environmentally.”
Shane Li, President of North Forge East, has been working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to ensure Carbon Lock Technologies was well-positioned for a successful pilot project. “We are thrilled to work with Carbon Lock and be part of their entrepreneurial journey. We believe that the start-ups we support at North Forge East not only create the economic value, but also the social and environmental value for our community. Carbon Lock Technologies is just the perfect example.”
For all things Carbon Lock, please visit their website at carbonlock.ca
For all things North Forge East, including how to apply, please visit northforgeeast.ca