Regional Roundup

BioCycle March 2004, Vol. 45, No. 3, p. 18

King County, Washington
This year, officials in the King County Solid Waste Division have identified six priority materials for their LinkUp program which works with local manufacturers to expand markets. For 2004, materials are food waste, yard waste paper, wood, electronics and mercury — which comprise 54 percent of waste in the county’s landfill. Explains Jeff Gaisford, manager of Recycling and Environmental Services: “The new priority materials either are abundant (i.e., food and paper) or they are problematic, such as electronics and mercury, which are highly toxic.”

As reported previously in BioCycle, LinkUp provides technical and marketing assistance to businesses that use recycled materials in the products they make. While manufacturers will be given preference if they use one or more of the above “priority” materials, firms using other recyclables are encouraged to apply to be in the program.

Because of the many trees cut in the region and the high volume of C&D debris, wood continues high on the list. LinkUp encourages manufacture of higher-value products from trees such as furniture. For example, owner Jim Newsom of Urban Hardwoods salvages hardwood trees cut down in residential yards or because of storm damage. Newsom hand-mills and kilndries the wood, transforming it into furniture, flooring or custom cabinets.

Another LinkUp enterprise — Forest Concepts — is working to develop an all-wood, erosion control material to replace straw. Called WoodStraw, these spreadable wood strands are suitable for habitat restoration projects and postfire erosion control. Forest Concepts uses plywood veneer discards and is exploring use of small diameter trees and dimensional lumber waste from C&D operations.

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Two stream restoration projects near Charlotte have been using compost, reports the latest issue of the Carolinas Composting Council newsletter. Working with Mecklenburg County’s Land Use and Environmental Services Agency and other regional groups, one project is concentrating on seven miles of Little Sugar Creek — removing concrete liners and dams, building “meanders” back into the stream channel and bioengineering slopes. As part of their project, the County hired Carolina Mulch Plus to install Filtrexx compost socks along some. segments of the stream bottom to provide a good base for revegetation. Compost came from yard trimmings processed at the County’s Compost Central.

Another project has begun at the Hidden Valley Ecological Garden, on 13 acres of floodplain land, where a wetland will be created to restore 3,500 linear feet of stream to a more natural condition. Plans are to use three different compost-amended soil mixes, report Ann Gill and Andrew Burg, CCC members. Each area will be monitored for a five-year period by the Duke University Wetlands Center for soil and vegetation quality.

Meanwhile at the University of North Carolina campus at Greensboro, an active food waste composting program is underway. Approximately 80 to 120 gallons of cafeteria feedstocks are mixed with 160 to 200 gallons of amendment three times per week (mostly wood chips and sawdust). Last year, the University’s Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling estimated that more than 53,900 pounds of food residuals were diverted from the waste stream.

Kansas City, Missouri
Premium Standard Farms, Inc. — the largest hog producer in Missouri that has been forced to pay fines for waste spills and odors from lagoons — is reported to be investing in an anaerobic digestion system. According to the Kansas City Star, wastewater lagoons will be replaced by an enclosed system that converts manure into methane gas, turf fertilizer and irrigation water. The latest agreement between Premium Standard and state officials also requires that all the company’s farms eventually have updated technology, notes Joe Engeln, assistant director for science and technology at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in Jef

According to the Star article, the new system will concentrate solids in liquefied manure slurries so they can be moved to the digester. Water will be recirculated to flush waste systems in the barns. Methane gas will help power the system, with centrifuges, mixers, dryers and scrubbers used to separate nutrients from wastewater. Says a Premium Standard official: “The product is what we’re really excited about. It’s a black pellet with no odor, no pathogens and no dust.”

Atlantic County, New Jersey
When five Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) recycling trucks entered Margate — a small beachfront town south of Atlantic City — in 1988, their mission was to collect newspapers, cardboard, glass and aluminum cans. They came out with 11 tons. Over the past 15 years, the ACUA has come to serve all 23 towns and has added more items to the designated recyclable material list including tin/steel cans, plastic containers marked #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE), empty paint cans, phone books, aerosol cans and junk mail from homes and plastic shrink wrap, cardboard bales, and office paper. Service has been extended to casinos, businesses, schools and institutions. “The success of the program, reflected in part by the 400,000 tons that have been collected, processed and sold to recycling markets, can be attributed in part to extensive public education efforts,” notes Jim Rutala, ACUA Vice President.

A collection service that once required a three-person crew has moved to a single driver — accomplished using new vehicle technology including advanced hydraulic systems to “ease dumping of containers, increased truck capacity and dual controls that allow trucks to be driven from both sides of the cab,” explains an ACUA summary. The transition has resulted in a savings of $900,000 (or 28 percent) annually.

The Authority operates a 22-acre composting facility permitted to accept leaves, grass clippings, tree branches, clean wood, brush and Christmas trees. Annually, the facility processes about 20,000 tons of yard trimmings. Topsoil mix is marketed under the name, “EcoSoil;” shredded hardwood mulch as “EcoMulch;” and wood chips as “EcoChips.” Adds the ACUA report: “Home delivery is provided, and this operation results in over $250,000 in annual revenue.”

Gainesville, Florida
Studies on environmental contamination from using pressure-treated wood have shown elevated arsenic concentrations in soils, report Aziz Shiralipour, Rocky Cao and Lena Ma of the University of Florida’s Soil & Water Science Department. After noting elevated arsenic concentrations in locally grown crops, the researchers investigated the effects of soil amendments on arsenic uptake by carrots and lettuce. Specific objectives of their research were to evaluate impact of compost and phosphate fertilizer on uptake as well as examine human health issues associated with eating those vegetables. Biosolids compost from the Palm Beach Authority Composting Facility was used in the tests.

Assessing the effects of the amendments, the researchers observed: “Biosolids compost substantially reduced arsenic uptake by carrots and lettuce. Carrot arsenic was reduced by 79 to 88 percent, and lettuce arsenic was reduced by 86 to 96 percent. In contrast to the compost, phosphate fertilizer application significantly increased arsenic uptake via competitive replacement of arsenate by phosphate, which subsequently increase arsenic bioavailability.” More details on this research are planned for a coming issue of BioCycle.

Boston, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced in February that five recycling businesses will receive Recycling Industries Reimbursement Credit grants for $153,500 for capital equipment and a research project. Recipients have agreed to provide $348,000 in matching funds and create capacity to recycle and reuse an additional 37,000 tons of difficult to recycle materials. Grants include the following:

Greenleaf Composting Company of Jamaica Plain will purchase a tub grinder to help, double its composting of food waste to 7,500 tons per year from grocery stores, restaurants and institutions. DEP grant of 35,000. Company providing matching funds of $30,000;

New Bedford Waste Services will purchase a skid steer with a bucket and roll-off containers to increase recycling by 150 tons per year of clean gypsum wallboard. In addition, NBWS will conduct research on the amount of material that could be recycled. DEP grant of $28,500, including: $23,500 for capital equipment and $5,000 research. Company providing matching funds of $133,000. North Shore Recycled Fibers of Salem will purchase shredding equipment to process estimated additional 5,000 tons of mixed paper from commercial businesses. DEP grant of $20,000. Company providing matching funds of $80,000;

PJ Keating Company of Lunenburg will purchase a shed to store asphalt roofing shingles to be used in the manufacture of asphalt. The shed will keep shingles dry, thereby enabling PJ Keating to increase use of asphalt shingles to 3,000 tons per year to a total of 7,000 tons. DEP grant of $35,000. Company providing matching funds of $40,000.

WeCare of Marlborough will purchase a compost turner that will increase efficiency and speed of composting 25,000 tons per year of food residuals from municipal and commercial sources. DEP grant of $35,000. Company providing matching funds of $65,000.

New York, New York
Scheduled to begin research in April, Earth Pledge’s Farm to Table Initiative — funded in part by a grant from the Organic Farming Research Foundation — will study the effect of compost tea to control disease in pumpkins. “The project is part of our Grow Greener program, which researches innovative agricultural technologies that promote crop and health while minimizing environmental damage,” explained an Earth Pledge official. Working in collaboration with Stephen Storch, organic grower, and Meg McGrath, plant pathologist from Cornell, the grant will help provide growers with practical field results.

In other projects, the organization announced a public/private partnership that will work with brownfield site owners to turn contaminated properties into useful land. Called The Guardian Trust, the program will facilitate redevelopment. The group is also working with schools in the New York metro area to develop curriculum “that will bring green roofs into the classroom.” The plan is to work with the School of the Future in Manhattan to build test plots in the high school’s roof garden.

Alberta, Canada
Alberta Environment is exploring initial stages of research needed to determine whether landfill “prohibition policy” would be appropriate and effective to divert more solid waste in the province. “This research is the first step in a long process to determine the practicability, but in no way implies that landfill prohibition policy is imminent now or in the future,” points out the Connector newsletter for The Recycling Council of Alberta.

The first stage of this research began in November, 2003, identifying the following: Concerns of landfill authorities in Alberta as well as industries potentially affected by bans on certain products; old corrugated cardboard industry; the compost industry; and lessons learned about, usefulness and implementation of landfill prohibition policy from governments in other jurisdictions.

This research phase will be used as the basis for a discussion paper to be reviewed by the Waste Stakeholder Group in May 2004. It should promote discussion on whether Alberta should consider implementing landfill bans. For more information, contact Jodi Tomchyshyn via e-mail at:

Miami Beach, Florida
At the mid-February annual National Ethanol Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen cited these accomplishments of the ethanol industry in 2003:

Annual record of 2.81 billion gallons produced; Currently, 72 ethanol plants can produce 3.1 billion gallons annually; With 15 plants under construction, annual production capacity will soon expand to over 3.6 billion gallons; Farmer-owned ethanol plants account for 40 percent of total industry capacity; Ethanol use consumed more than 1 billion bushels of corn; and Ethanol use reduced nearly three million tons of carbon monoxide, 300,000 tons of ozone equivalent VOCs, and 5.7 million tons of C02 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. Dinneen concluded: “2004 will clearly mean more growth, more market expansion, more excitement — as this dynamic industry continues on its path of providing synergy in energy.”

Bozeman, Montana
In 2003, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Montana offered a $35 per acre incentive payment to help farmers make the transition from traditional farming to farming systems that meet USDA organic standards, writes Dave White, NRCS State Conservationist. By offering an incentive payment through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS is taking some of the economic risks out of obtaining an organic farming certification, a process that takes three years. The incentive payment was capped at $3,500 per year for a maximum of three years. Montana NRCS is offering the same incentive for 2004.

In addition, NRCS worked with the Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) to conduct an organic farming training session for agency personnel as well as farmers and ranchers interested in the topic. More than 130 individuals attended the two-day session. “Organic systems foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity,” said Jonda Crosby, AERO sustainable agriculture program manager. “NRCS conservation goals overlap the requirements and ideals of organic farming and ranching systems. The training session was a fantastic opportunity for us all to sit in the same room and learn from one another about our commitment to conservation and to see ways in which we can work more closely together in the future.”

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
A free online “waste exchange” service has been developed by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers to make it easier to reuse traditionally discarded materials. The website address is known as Material Trader. The website matches Pennsylvania businesses and organizations that produce wastes, by-products or surplus materials with businesses and organizations that need them.

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