BioCycle June 2004, Vol. 45, No. 6, p. 6
BAY-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPE PROGRAM STRESSES “DIVERT MORE” AND “LANDFILL LESS”
The Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board of Alameda County, California serves the county, 14 cities and two sanitary districts – all located on the east side of San Francisco Bay. To provide better waste reduction options for its 1.5 million residents, writes Cynthia Havstad of the Authority, Bay-Friendly Landscape Guidelines were organized around seven principles: Landscape Locally; Landscape for Less to the Landfill; Nurture the Soil; Conserve Water; Conserve Energy; Protect Water & Air Quality; Create Wildlife Habitat.
Practices recommended are: Creating drought resistant soil with compost and mulch; Protecting topsoil during construction; Using integrated pest management; and Understanding how soil preparation can decrease storm water runoff and protect water quality. Continue the Guidelines:
“Within this framework, it is clear that returning organic matter to the soil, in the form of compost or mulch produced from plant debris, is a particularly critical practice for landscaping in a Bay-Friendly manner and nurturing the health of the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. Returning organic matter to the soil is also the link between our ‘watershed’ and our ‘wasteshed’ – it protects our watershed and conserves landfill space. Over the last decade, there has been a significant reduction in plant debris that is landfilled in Alameda County. But 110,000 tons of plant debris are still being thrown away each year, and studies indicate that this material is reaching the landfill through the hands of the professional landscaper. Bay-Friendly landscaping diverts plant debris by preventing waste in the first place – through careful plant selection, watering and fertilizing – and by returning plant material to the soil.”
For details, contact Teresa Eade at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cynthia Havstad at email@example.com.
RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM ORGANICS RECYCLING AT NOVEMBER 2004 BIOCYCLE CONFERENCE
What does it take for anaerobic digesters to be used to turn municipal and industrial organic residuals into biogas to produce heat and electricity? How can biodiesel be more commercially available? How can we “close the circle” by creating more biobased products? How much higher do gasoline prices have to rise … or how much worse must conflicts in the Middle East get … before we in North America take major steps toward renewable energy reliance?
These – and many more questions promise productive interactive sessions at the BioCycle Fourth Annual Conference on RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM ORGANICS RECYCLING. The Conference will be held November 8-9-10, 2004 at The Hotel Savery in Des Moines, Iowa.
Special topics include: Best Ways to Overcome Barriers to Biogas Recovery and Markets; Latest Trends in Landfill Methane Recovery; Utilizing Biogas at Wastewater Treatment Plants; New Technologies and Policies for Creating Green Power; Linking State Recycling Programs to Renewable Energy Goals; Creating Power from Recycled Organics; Fuels and Chemicals from Biomass; Recycling Food Residuals into Energy; Comparing Renewable Energy Systems in North America and Europe; Digesters on the Farm – And Factory; Role of Composting in Renewable Energy; Wood Waste As A Renewable Energy Feedstock. Plus there will be a significant array of commercial exhibits and innovative field trips.
For details about the BioCycle Fourth Annual Conference on RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM ORGANICS RECYCLING, contact Ann Miller, BioCycle, 419 State Ave., Emmaus, PA 18049, 610-967-4135, ext. 22 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTROLLING WEEDS WITH COMPOST AND OTHER ORGANIC AMENDMENTS
The latest issue of From The Ground Up, published by the San Jose, California Environmental Services Department and edited by Karin Grobe, reports on “research in the Salinas Valley which establishes a link between use of organics amendments and weed control.” The two-year on-farm study compared use of cover crops and compost in reduced tillage and conventional (deep) tillage plots. The objective of the research was to monitor the effect of soil organics amendments and tillage variations on weed survival and soil microbial biomass in an intensively managed vegetable field. The research was completed by Steven Fennimore, University of California-Davis Department of Vegetable Crops and Weed Science.
Organics amendment plots received compost applications twice per year and were planted with cover crops between crops of lettuce and broccoli. Due to management schedules, weeds actually had the potential to set seed for a longer period of time in the organics amendment plots. However, they had lower levels of weed emergence than the no amendment plots. Specifically, the plots that received amendments had lower densities of burning nettle and shepherd’s -purse.
According to Fennimore, soil microbes, which tend to proliferate in amended soils, could have degraded the weeds seeds or attacked the seedlings in the amended plots. He points out that while the research results suggest that increased organic matter and microbial biomass may have the potential to affect weed densities, further research must be done to understand the interactions between weed levels, and organics amendments in intensive vegetable production.
Currently, Fennimore is looking at the impact of carbon to nitrogen ratios on microbial biomass and weed seed degradation. “There are a number of researchers in the U.S. looking at the impacts of the soil environment on weed seeds in the soil,” he says. “The potential for modifying the soil microbial community with crop residue management or organics amendments in order to control weeds is an exciting new area of research.” Karin Grobe can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.
IN SEARCH OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY COMPOST … WITH THE LEAST HEAVY METALS
Under the direction of Daryl McCartney, full-scale trials were scheduled to begin this month at the Clover Bar research facility operated by the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence. The goal is to discover ways to “reduce heavy metals concentrations in compost as much as possible.” Explains McCartney, associate professor at the University of Alberta’s Civil and Engineering Department: “The metals levels in Edmonton compost now are quite safe, from a human health standpoint. So now it becomes a question of how low can we go? How high a quality can we get?”
Guidelines for heavy metals concentrations in compost are currently being reviewed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) and the Bureau de Normalization du Quebec. Eleven metals are listed by the CCME, with concern mostly focused on mercury, cadmium and copper.
In the first part of the study, Dr. McCartney and his team reviewed literature to find out what the standards are for metals in composts around the world. In the next phase of the study, researchers will examine presorting technologies that are being proposed for the tipping floor to reduce heavy metal contamination. Studies will be conducted to confirm the potential sources of metals and the likelihood of presorting technologies reducing the metal content of the compost. In addition, changes to the biological availability of the metals through the composting process will be determined.
“By determining the source of metals, this project will help us in our goal of continually improving the compost quality,” says Dr. Charles Labatiuk, project manager with the City of Edmonton. The project will conclude with a final report in 2005.
COOPERATIVE IN JAPAN USES METHANE FROM BEAN-CURD PROCESSING FACILITY
The Consumer Co-operative Kobe (Co-op Kobe), a major Japanese consumer organization with 1.45 million members, has started to operate an industrial waste recovery facility that treats bean-curd refuse, discarded cooking oil and other food processing residuals from their plant in Kobe. As reported by the electronic Japan for Sustainability, methane gas emitted from the process will be reused to generate electricity.
The newsletter also notes that the Kyoto Prefecture in Japan has finalized its guidelines for public works projects which aim to make public works projects “as environmentally friendly as possible, creating the most suitable environment for each community through the projects, and developing systems to support sound energy and resource cycles.”
SEAL OF TESTING ASSURANCE (STA) NOTES FIVE YEARS OF PROGRESS
Beginning its fifth year of operation, The U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) Program has surpassed the 100 product and 3 million cubic yard certification mark. Also earlier in 2004, the California Compost Quality Council merged its verification process with the STA program.
The overall purpose of the STA Program is to improve customer confidence in compost selection and utilization. The STA Program rules require participating facilities to sample and test their compost products on an ongoing basis, using uniform protocols provided by the USCC. It also requires disclosure of test analyses and product ingredient data, and end use instructions to customers. Participating composters have the ability to use the program’s Logo (seal) in their promotional efforts, and will be included in various national promotional activities managed by the USCC.
For additional information about participation in the STA Program, contact via e-mail managers Al Rattie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ron Alexander (email@example.com.)
WINDROWED BIOSOLIDS IN ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA USED ON AREA FARMS
Approximately 20,000 dry metric tons of biosolids are produced annually at wastewater treatment plants in Adelaide, Australia. For more than a year, the biosolids from the Bolivar WWTP have been dried and blended with sand at a nearby site, then windrowed. Two self-propelled, straddle type Backhus turners are used for blending. After several weeks when material is sufficiently dry, the product is applied by farmers. Biosolids contain about one percent each of nitrogen and phosphorus, and about 40 percent organic matter. Reports indicate that the cropping benefit of applied biosolids are up to $30/metric ton.
MECHANICAL BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT FACILITIES IN EUROPE
Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) is a generic term for an integration of several waste treatment processes commonly found at MRFs, sorting and composting plants, explains a report in Warmer Bulletin. “MBT stabilizes and separates the residual waste stream into less harmful and more beneficial output streams,” says the publication based in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
There are approximately 70 MBT facilities operating in Europe, where the technology is said to be widely used in Italy, Germany and Austria – and increasingly in Belgium and the UK. Small plants also operate in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Adds Warmer Bulletin: “Where economics of landfills are changing due to scarcity, MBT is increasingly seen as a good option.”