Regional Roundup

BioCycle June 2004, Vol. 45, No. 6, p. 16

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
At the two new research centers in Edmonton, the $4.4 million Clover Bar Research Facility will focus on solid waste management research, while the $4 million Gold Bar Wastewater Research & Training Centre will seek to improve technologies with sustainable methods.

“It’s exciting to be moving into these facilities,” says Dr. Jerry Leonard, executive manager of the Centre of Excellence. He notes that they exceed his expectations in terms of offering “useful, flexible space.”

The Clover Bar facility features a tipping area, a wet and dry wing, chemical and microbiological laboratories and a mechanical annex on the first floor. The spacious second floor has six work stations for graduate students for research, office areas, a viewing gallery and multipurpose space. Energy efficient features include a “green roof” that can be fully planted. At the Clover Bar site, a large compost mixing drum will be used as part of the ongoing research.

The Gold Bar facility provides a state-of-the-art pilot wastewater plant, as well as classrooms, a lecture theatre and sophisticated laboratory. Both projects are funded through the Infrastructure Canada-Alberta Program.

Hennepin County, Minnesota
Wayzata, Minnesota is the first city in the Twin Cities metro region to offer curbside collection of organics to all its residents. More than 100 tons of compostables, including food scraps and nonrecyclable paper (milk cartons, pizza boxes, etc.), have been collected. Finished compost has been used on municipal flower beds, “a Iong-time source of community pride,” notes Angie Timmons of the county’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Programs.

Once a week, residents place their organics cart next to their recycling bin for pick up, with material to be delivered to NRG Processing Solutions composting site in Empire Township. More than 70 percent of the 1,200 households in Wayzata participated during the year, resulting in an eight percent MSW reduction. At a time when waste per capita is increasing and recycling rates are stagnant, an eight percent reduction is an extraordinary success, notes County Commissioner Linda Koblick. “Organics composting is an untapped opportunity for the county to reduce the amount of trash.”

Atlantic County, New Jersey
Last month, the Atlantic County Utilities Authority Board of Directors approved an agreement to install a 1,400 kw methane power generation system at the Utilities’ landfill in Egg Harbor Township. AC Landfill Energy LLC is a joint venture of DCO Energy and Marina Energy, whose parent company is South Jersey Industries. The landfill gas will be extracted from wells using fans and blowers, then fed into pipes that deliver the gas to a central point. A Caterpillar engine generator will produce electricity to power the ACUA facilities and sell electricity on the open market.

The project will earn the Utilities both energy and tax credits. According to Jim Rutala, ACUA vice president, a grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for $513,000 and a low interest loan from the state’s Economic Development Authority helped greatly to get the renewable energy program underway. It will use between 300 to 500 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of landfill gas, generating enough energy to power 10,700 homes for a year.

State College, Pennsylvania
Penn State University began recycling its wastewater – one billion gallons annually – as an environmentally-friendly utilization practice. “What we now want to do,” says Todd Bowersox, silviculture professor at Penn State who manages the forestry aspect of the program, “is find out what native species might grow in the region that could make this a more sustainable place.”

The University began experimenting with treated wastewater in the 1960s, and by 1983 had developed a delivery system. Although filtered through its treatment plant, the water is still higher in nutrients as nitrogen and phosphorus than rainwater. A few years ago, researchers began testing different species to find what would grow best in what Bowersox describes as “sort of a northern rainforest.” Species found along the banks of state rivers were sycamore, silver maple, green ash, river birch, black gum and Norway spruce. They also found that native species such as quaking aspen did well. Four years ago, a 20-acre area was cleared where native trees were struggling; the selected river species were planted. Two years later, those trees started to come into their own, with quaking aspens growing more than 12 feet tall.

Most important, the water is returned “to the ground from which it came.” Sums up Bowersox: “This is really a wastewater recycling plant. The real goal is to discharge this water in a way that’s environmentally friendly, and by putting it back into the ground, maybe we can even use it again.”

Greensboro, North Carolina
A report in the Carolinas Composting Council newsletter describes how University of North Carolina at Greensboro is moving ahead with its program to compost cafeteria and food court residuals. The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling at UNCG, led by Mary McClellen and Tavey McDaniel, runs the program that mixes approximately 80 to 120 gallons of feedstock with 160 to 200 gallons of amendment three times per week. The amendment consists of wood chips and sawdust. Last year, the Office estimates that about 54,000 pounds of food scraps were diverted. UNCG staff have tested effectiveness of adding “Red Wiggler” earthworms to the second curing pile. Next step is to compare results of the curing piles with and without the Red Wigglers.

Chicago, Illinois
The Great Lakes By-Products Management Association (GLBMA) would like to hear from potential presenters to speak about case studies of models and approaches to use blended by-products, research, and benefits for generators, processors and end users. The conference will be held December 1-3, 2004 at EPA Region 5 headquarters in Chicago. Submissions should be sent to Susan Basta, Conference Coordinator, PO Box 218148, Columbus, Ohio 43221-8148. E-mail: According to GLBMA, the event “represents an ideal opportunity to combine the mutual interests of various industries in blending opportunities for by-products as well as to explore the regulatory challenges and technical uncertainties that need to be addressed.”

Albany, New York
Announcing the state’s newest “custom” license plate last month, NY Motor Vehicles Commissioner Raymond Martinez said: “Now, New Yorkers passionate about environmental preservation can help to raise awareness and demonstrate commitment by purchasing a ‘New York Recycles’ license plate.” The unveiling was held at the Federation of NY Solid Waste Association’s annual spring conference. Initial cost for the plate is $43 with an annual renewal fee of $25. A personalized version is also available. Anyone with a passenger or commercial vehicle registered in New York state is eligible. Visit the DMV web site at

Gainesville, Florida
Set up as a public/private partnership between the University of Florida and the state’s organic farmers, the Center for Organic Agriculture is expected to improve production practices as well as lead to a minor degree program in organic farming. Key people in the Center’s formation are Mickie Swisher, associate professor in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Rose Koenig, owner of Rosie’s Organic Farm in Gainesville. The Center plans to offer a certificate in organic agriculture through UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. In a report about the Center, the publication of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Resource, notes that “the organics boom isn’t limited to the United States,” as organic food sales in the United Kingdom are expected to increase by 75 percent over the next five years. In China, farmers are getting 30 to 50 percent more money for their organic food exports. For more details about the Center, Swisher can be contacted at (352) 392-2201; Koenig may be contacted at (352) 392-1987.

San Luis Obispo, California
In an April 2004 article in Resource, Doug Williams and Diana Gould Wells note that 33 million tons of dairy manure are produced each year in California. “By incorporating a covered lagoon digester system with a microturbine electric generation system, manure’s undesirable by-products can be transformed into valuable assets for a dairy farmer,” they write. Williams is in the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University, while Gould-Wells is in the Environmental Engineering Department.

At the Cal Poly dairy, about 90 percent of the manure is deposited on concrete, flushed through a solids separator, and pumped into a 14,400 cubic meter (4-million-gallon) covered lagoon digester. Approximately 300,000 to 400,000 liters (79,000 to 106,000 gallons) of flushed manure containing .5 percent solids and 4000 milligrams per liter (.1 ounce per gallon) of chemical oxygen demand (COD) are loaded daily into the digester resulting in a hydraulic retention time of 40 days. After exiting the lagoon, the COD of the effluent has been reduced to 1000 milligrams per liter (.04 ounces per gallon) resulting in much less odor. As the manure is anaerobically digested by bacteria located at the bottom of the lagoon, up to 127 cubic meters (400 cubic feet) of biogas is produced daily and collected beneath a special floating cover. This biogas, containing 70 percent methane, is then piped to the gas handling system where it provides fuel for a 30-kilowatt microturbine electric generator. The microturbine has been operating since July 2002.

St. Paul, Minnesota
Phosphorus runoff from lawn fertilizers is a significant contributor to algae growth and consequent degradation of lake and river quality in Minnesota, explains a news item in the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network. The Minnesota Lakes Association (MLA), the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and many other organizations worked for this law, to go into effect next year, which restricts the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer anywhere in the state. The law allows phosphorus application if a soil test indicates it is needed, but a retest would be required after three years. It exempts agricultural lands, new sod, and golf courses.

Since the law restricts the use, not the sale, of phosphorus lawn fertilizers, MLA will work with University of Minnesota Extension and other groups to educate independent hardware store chains and the larger retail chains such as Fleet Farm, Menards, Home Depot and Walmart about the law. “MnSCN members can let their local hardware store or landscape center know about this new law and the need to stock nonphosphorus fertilizers, some of which are organic and produced in Minnesota.”

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