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Renewable natural gas, a circular economy model

September 15, 2022    4 min.

Renewable natural gas production not only presents a significant economic development potential for Quebec, but also fits perfectly into the concept of a circular economy, which aims to maximize value for money to reduce waste and overconsumption.

Renewable natural gas in the circular economy

Biomethanation and gasification processes that produce renewable natural gas (RNG) fit nicely into the circular economy model by substituting RNG for conventional natural gas. These processes have not only considerable environmental benefits, as demonstrated in one of our previous articles, but also economic and social ones, and they are part of a sustainable development approach.

Downstream of the RNG production, residential, agricultural and/or industrial organic waste is sent to a biodigester. The result of this industrial process is biogas, which is then purified to produce a gas that is perfectly interchangeable with conventional natural gas. RNG can then be used by these same sectors (residential, agricultural, industrial) for their operations. In addition, waste from RNG production (digestates) is used as fertilizer to contribute to crop and animal agricultural production, which will start a new cycle by generating new value-added organic material.


Circular economy is opposed to the linear economy that has defined production and consumption systems since the end of the Second World War.

Dispose In a circular economy, nothing is waste. The circular economy retains and recovers as much value as possible from resources by reusing, repairing, refurbishing or recycling products and materials.

It is about using valuable resources wisely, thinking about waste as a resource, instead of a cost, and finding innovative ways to better the environment and the economy.1

Visual of circular economy applied to renewable natural gas


  • Reducing dependence on energy imports
  • Responsible consumption and stakeholder involvement in material sorting


Product supply

  • Renewable energy local production
  • GHG emissions reduction
  • Using digestate as a substitute for chemical fertilizers


Waste management

  • Reusing unused organic material
  • Reducing landfill and incineration
visual of circular economy applied to renewable natural gas

Hélène Lauzon, Chair of the Conseil patronal de l’environnement du Québec (CPEQ), said that this is exactly the kind of approach that Quebec needs to move towards industrial ecology, which she defines as a circular economy: “It’s about putting the waste back into the economy and reusing it as raw materials, she says. All too often, a company buries its waste, whereas its neighbour needs it.”2

Economic and fiscal benefits

Reaching the full production potential of RNG in Quebec will have a significant impact on its economy. On one hand, RNG production projects involve significant investments. Spread across the entire province, these investments will mobilize many jobs and help increase Quebec’s value added throughout the construction period. On the other hand, once built, the RNG production facilities will continue to create wealth in Quebec. Operating activities will involve several thousand permanent jobs, as much for the facilities’ operations as for their goods and services procurement. By contributing to the production of a new energy source in the province, the jobs created by the production of RNG will cause a significant increase in Quebec’s value added. This value added (also known as Gross Domestic Product [GDP]) measures the level of economic activity in an area over a given period.

Major potential for the economy and employment in Quebec

According to a report by Aviseo Conseil on the potential of the renewable natural gas sector in Quebec , the full deployment of the technical and economic RNG production by 2030 would support 88,000 jobs in Quebec during construction and 15,000 jobs per year during operation. The governments of Quebec and Canada would benefit from tax revenues of up to $1.3 billion during construction and $256 million annually over the course of the projects. On an annual basis, the contribution of the RNG sector to Quebec’s GDP would be of $1.6 billion, the equivalent of the entire crop production sector in Quebec.

Launching Quebec into the future

Fulfilling the RNG sector’s potential is part of a sustainable development approach that could strengthen Quebec’s leadership and enable it to develop a desirable and replicable expertise in this area. It would contribute to enriching society as a whole by creating long-term jobs and lasting infrastructure, structuring some activity sectors, strengthening Quebec’s innovation capacity and, of course, reducing our environmental footprint—all as part of a sustainable economic model. That is why the RNG pipeline development is more than ever at the top of Énergir’s priorities.


To know more

Circular economy: A globally growing model

Circular economy is not a new concept, since it was first discussed in 1970 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (see sidebar). However, it has been gaining popularity since it was launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2009. In the span of a few years, the Foundation has successfully placed circular economy on the international agenda of business leaders, governments, communities and academic research.3 Today, many companies are actively developing circular economy in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, including BlackRock, Danone, Google, H&M Group, Intesa Sanpaolo, Philips, Renault, and SC Johnson, Unilever, to name a few.

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