BioCycle January 2004, Vol. 45, No. 1, p. 18
International Airport Operates Food Waste Composting Program
The Portland Airport has 10,000 employees, 17 passenger airlines, 14 cargo carriers and over one million passengers “zipping through it each year,” writes Tanya Baker in the Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR) newsletter. Following a decision to emphasize waste reduction as part of its environmental management system, in 2002 the Airport conducted waste audits. Data showed that 35 percent of the food waste stream that was landfilled could be composted, and half of that amount was preconsumer waste from food vendors. The Port received a $35,000 grant from Portland Metro to help pay for equipment and partnered with Community Environmental Services at Portland State University to conduct the pilot.
Writes Baker: “The program was kicked off in early 2003, one of the first of its kind in the U.S. And the results thus far have been favorable. Very little contamination has been found in the food waste stream. The items diverted for composting include vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, baked goods, uncontaminated paper towels and napkins, waxed cardboard and other compostable paper. Compostable waste is taken to a specially designated 20 yard drop box with sealed doors along the top and steps up to an elevated platform that runs the length of the box. The food waste box is picked up twice a week and hauled to Nature’s Needs in North Plains for processing. Thus far, the Port has purchased seven tons of composted material from Nature’s Needs and used it in medians and landscaping applications around the airport.”
Project managers hope to interest the hotels and restaurants that line Airport Way in diverting their food residuals and are also exploring expansion into postconsumer collection. A visit to the Nature’s Needs composting site is scheduled as part of the field trips at the BioCycle West Coast Conference March 15-17, 2004 in Portland.
City Council Approves Ordinance Banning Recyclables From Garbage
In December, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved Ordinance #11464 which bans disposal of recyclable paper, cardboard and yard trimmings in garbage set out by businesses and recyclable paper, cardboard, cans and bottles set out by residents. This action is necessary to reverse a downward trend in the City’s overall recycling rate from 44 percent in 1995 to 38 percent in 2001 with the greatest decline in commercial sector recycling. Approximately 30,000 tons of recyclable paper and cardboard alone remain in residential garbage and 40,000 tons in commercial garbage.
According to information provided by Gabriella Uhlar-Heffner of the Seattle Public Utilities, the agency will begin a program of educational outreach to both businesses and residents regarding these new recycling requirements by March 2004. As of January 1, 2005, all commercial establishments – including those entities authorized to haul their own wastes – will be required to separate paper, cardboard and yard trimmings for recycling. Educational notice tags will be placed on garbage cans, detachable containers and drop boxes with significant amounts of paper, cardboard or yard trimmings. The residential recycling requirements will be effective also by that date with educational notice tags placed on garbage cans and detachable containers with significant amounts of paper, cardboard, glass and plastic bottles and jars as well as aluminum and tin cans. At the City’s transfer stations, self-haulers will be advised that they will need to separate out recyclable paper, cardboard, cans and bottles as well as yard debris for recycling in the transfer station’s recycling containers rather than disposal in the garbage pit.
Actual penalties will not be imposed if significant amounts of recyclables are found in commercial, residential or self-haul garbage until January 1, 2006. Businesses could be fined as much as $250 if inspectors find significant quantities of recyclables in garbage containers or dumpsters. Single-family residents will not have their garbage collected until they remove recyclables from garbage cans and multifamily accounts could be fined $50 if significant amounts of recyclables are found in garbage dumpsters.
Resolution #30646, which accompanies this ordinance, directs Seattle Public Utilities to set up a Stakeholder Committee to develop the rules, which will actually implement the ordinance taking into consideration issues as the space limitations of existing buildings. SPU is also directed to ensure that curbside recycling and collection of yard trimmings is available to businesses by January 1, 2006. The Mayor’s January 2003 60 percent Recycling Recommendations to the City Council actually calls for the expansion of the City’s Small Business Recycling Program (whereby small businesses who pay for garbage collection service are offered the same commingled biweekly recycling service as received by City residents) to all City businesses who pay for garbage collection service.
Following the City Council vote to make recycling mandatory, a report in The Seattle Times included these points: Mayor Greg Nickels’ original proposal also called for restaurants and commercial generators to recycle food waste, which city officials are “still refining.” Noted Tim Croll of the Seattle Public Utilities: “We need food waste to make our goal, no question. That’s still a core part of our proposal.” Seattle officials are negotiating rates, collection schedules, billing and customer service for the food waste program.
Adds Alan Durning, executive director of Northwest Environment Watch: “This will stiffen people’s spines. I hope the city will hurry and move on to food waste recycling because it’s the next frontier.”
New York, New York
Composting, Recycling And Chipping On The Lower East Side
Christine Datz Romero – director of the Lower East Side Ecology Center – is very much involved with providing learning opportunities to local youth and community members. The day before we spoke with her, Romero had organized an electronic waste collection event that recycled computers, monitors, keyboards, etc. The day before that – right after New Years Day – was a mulchfest that featured Christmas tree chipping with 20 tons of sweet smelling pine mulch for city parks. And then there’s the Governeur Gardens Compost program – a food residuals program that serves as a model for collecting organic waste in a high rise setting. Through this program, more than 1,450 pounds of kitchen scraps are collected monthly. A history of the Center projects and their current activities will be prepared by Christine Romero for a coming issue of BioCycle.
Federal Court Strikes Down Township Restrictions On Biosolids Use To Reclaim Mines
State law regulating biosolids use to reclaim surface mine sites largely preempts local ordinances which cannot obstruct Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), regulations, a Federal judge ruled in late December. A U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania struck down most of the provisions of Rush Township’s ordinance that had blocked Synagro Technologies from reclaiming old mine sites with biosolids that had been approved by U.S. EPA and state authorities for reclamation and agricultural use. “As we come to the end of our preemption analysis, we recognize that our ruling effectively invalidates more than half of the Ordinance,” the court wrote.
The Synagro lawsuit against Rush Township was filed in 2000 after the township passed an ordinance which set a $40 per ton fee on biosolids use and included additional regulations not required under state law. Synagro is seeking more than $2.75 million in damages and attorneys fees from Rush Township. The Court will now proceed to decide these claims for damages and whether Rush Township is authorized to pass any biosolids ordinances beyond those required by state and federal law.
In a 30-page written opinion, Senior Judge James McClure said, that “a municipality cannot impose regulatory hurdles, over and above those imposed by Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) and DEP regulations that would impede the day-to-day operations of a waste facility. Although municipal regulations are permissible if they further the goals of SWMA, such regulations cannot impose onerous requirements that stand as obstacles ‘to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of the legislature.”
This ruling follows a legal trend by courts in this state and elsewhere that have recently struck down local biosolids ordinances which exceeded state and federal laws,” said Alvin Thomas, general counsel for Synagro. This week’s federal court ruling follows a similar ruling in November by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which struck down major provisions of Upper Mount Bethel Township’s biosolids ordinance. Last month, a Federal judge in Virginia also ruled that biosolids ordinances enacted by Appomattox County were “void and unenforceable” culminating a 16-month legal fight by local farmers against the local biosolids restrictions.
According to DEP statistics for the central Pennsylvania coal region, more than 900,000 dry tons of biosolids have been used in the reclamation of approximately 5,500 acres of mine sites since operations began in 1986.
Cocomposting Permit Issued For Regional Biosolids, Yard and Food Residuals
On October 31, 2003, the Mason County Department of Environmental Health issued one of Washington State’s first biosolids composting permits under the new WAC 173-350 Solid Waste Handling regulations which went into effect last February. According to Tami Thomas of Terre-Source LLC, the permitted facility – North Mason Fiber Company (NMF) – has operated a whole log chipping and sort yard facility handling various wood wastes for hog fuel in Belfair, Washington since 1989. The facility installed a surface water treatment and containment system in 2000. Soon after installation of that system, it began experimenting with composting the “greener portions of its land clearing and wood waste stream. That pilot program convinced NMF owner, Bob Dressel, that composting could beneficially augment his wood recycling business. At the same time, NMF’s easy access to wood product for bulking agent ideally complemented the composting operation. After attending Washington Organics Recycling Council’s Compost Operator Training program in 2002, Dressel contracted with Price-Moon Enterprises, Inc. and Terre-Source to begin the process of designing and permitting a full scale yard waste, food waste, and biosolids composting operation.
Phase I of NMF’s composting program involves upgrading the pilot Extended Aerated Static Pile composting facility. North Mason Fiber will compost yard waste, wood waste, and pre-consumer food residuals collected from Kitsap County Waste Management; Rabanco – city of Bremerton; the U.S. Navy at Indian Island, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bangor, and Keyport facilities; Bainbridge Island Disposal, Bainbridge Island; and local haulers. North Mason Fiber is permitted to accept over 12,000 tons per year of compostable material in this phase.
After Phase I is through start-up, NMF will begin Phase II, construction of an in-vessel composting system for biosolids and postconsumer food residuals. North Mason Fiber will continue to generate hog fuel, chips for the pulp and paper industry, bark mulch from the log processing and topsoil from land clearing debris for the landscaping industry, and to recycle higher quality logs for lumber, Thomas concludes.
Kansas City, Missouri
Friends Of The Zoo Get Help To Produce “Zoo Manoo”
To support its production of Zoo Manoo – an all-purpose soil conditioning product made from a combination of composted food residuals and animal manure, Friends of the Zoo Inc. of Kansas City was awarded $125,000 by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The zoo is beginning a collaborative program with food pantries and shelters in Jackson County to include food waste into the composting mixture – a project that will prevent 500 more tons of residuals from being disposed of in Missouri landfills. “We’re proud to support efforts like this that provide so many different benefits to communities,” says DNR director Steve Mahfood.
To Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, DNR awarded $125,000 to expand deconstruction services and educational opportunities. The on-site diversion methods recover plumbing, framing, windows, doors and other materials for resale – diverting more than 1,500 tons from landfills. Awards come from the Solid Waste Management Fund, created by tipping fees ($2.04/ton) charged for landfilling or sent to transfer stations that move waste out of state.
DNR has also awarded $125,000 to Lincoln University in Jefferson City to recover and use 108 tons of food residuals annually. The grant was given to the University’s Cooperative Research Department to purchase a composter, mechanical lift, loading dock and storage bins. Finished compost will be used for campus landscaping as well as research in horticultural areas.