50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 43, Energy Innovation is replacing dirty oil with flaxseed biodiesel

50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 43, Energy Innovation is replacing dirty oil with flaxseed biodiesel

No. 43 We’re replacing dirty oil with flaxseed
(Image: Floortje/iStock) 

When Jon Dwyer, the 27-year-old CEO of Energy Innovation, was shopping around for a place to house his first industrial-scale biodiesel refinery, he didn’t think he’d end up smack in the middle of Toronto’s waterfront. But a meeting with Invest Toronto—the agency David Miller created to attract business to the city—convinced him that the port lands just off Cherry Beach were the ideal spot for his fledgling company. The biodiesel industry, it turns out, is all about logistics: if your rent is too high, or you’re not close enough to your suppliers and customers, your biodiesel won’t be cost-effective or environmentally friendly.

Dwyer’s facility will begin operating later this summer. At full capacity, it will produce as much as 17 million litres a year using only 2,200 square feet of space. Unlike many of its competitors, EIC provides its own source material: flaxseed, which is grown on the company’s 1,200-acre farm outside Hamilton. EIC’s cold-press extraction process generates two end products: commercial-grade biodiesel, which can be used in any regular diesel engine, and flax meal, which is sold to make Omega-3–rich animal feed or milled to make gluten-free flax flour.
Locating at the waterfront has already landed Dwyer his first major client. Turtle Island Recycling, the recycling and waste removal giant, has facilities nearby and has agreed to add the fuel to its fleet’s diesel engines, thereby reducing tailpipe emissions. EIC’s plan is to supply heating fuel for the new condos and offices that will eventually change the face of the old port. And with the federal government’s recent announcement that by this summer, all diesel sold in Canada must contain two per cent biofuel, demand for EIC’s product is set to skyrocket.