BioCycle February 2005, Vol. 46, No. 2, p. 4
THE POWER OF ORGANICS
SEVERAL months ago, the BioCycle staff decided to design a new display for use at upcoming trade shows and conferences. Our goal was to describe the magazine and its mission in six words or less, and create an image that would embody all the facets of BioCycle’s editorial coverage including the wide range of organic residuals; strategies and equipment for cost-effective and efficient transport and handling of these materials; processing options and technologies; generation of high quality end products and power; and the development and expansion of markets and end uses.
Initially, we focused on the concept of a tree, rooted in various organic feedstocks. Proceeding up the trunk of the tree would be collection and materials handling, then processing technologies. Branches would represent the various products of these processing systems, from compost and mulch to renewable energy and remediated and vegetated soils. Essentially, our plan was to use photos instead of words, filling the trunk and branches with images from our critical areas of coverage. Then, a staff member intimated that, while the collage being described was certainly inclusive, it seemed to be quite confusing. We agreed.
We decided to restart the engines, and focus on a single image. With a vibrant image and a strong message, anyone viewing the BioCycle exhibit would recognize what the magazine represents. One editor suggested the phrase, “the power of organics.” The word “power” in our mind captured so many aspects of BioCycle: 1) The power contained in raw residuals that enables them to be transformed into valuable end products; 2) The power of end products such as compost to bring life back to soils, suppress plant diseases, retain moisture and provide essential nutrients; 3) The power of microorganisms in raw materials and end products to remediate contaminated soils; 4) The actual electrical power that can be generated from organic residuals such as manure, biosolids and plant biomass; 5) The power to support an ever growing industry of processors, marketers and equipment/service providers; 6) The power to get local jurisdictions, states and provinces to meet 50 percent-plus diversion goals; and 7) The power of organics to preserve, restore and create natural resources that sustain life on this planet.
The image was a challenge, but we ultimately selected a foreground of wild flowers, fading into a tree in the distance. The image represents the full cycle of organics, starting and ending with the fertile soil of the earth and the natural beauty it sustains. Behold, the Power of Organics.
We are most excited about the living examples that make up the power of organics. This issue’s cover story, The Grapes of Compost, is a case in point. The city and county of San Francisco and its service provider, Norcal Waste Systems, embarked on an ambitious initiative to meet the state-mandated diversion goal of 50 percent. Unlike other jurisdictions in the state, the city didn’t have significant quantities of “divertable” yard trimmings in its waste stream to push it toward the 50 percent goal. What it did have, however, were residential and commercial organics, including pre and postconsumer food scraps and soiled and nonrecyclable paper. Programs were established to divert these materials to Jepson Prairie Organics, a composting facility operated by Norcal. And among the high value markets developed by Norcal for its compost are the vineyards in the Napa Valley.
An interview with Jack Macy, San Francisco’s commercial organics recycling director (page 22), describes the evolution of the city’s organics diversion program. As of 2003, San Francisco’s diversion rate was 63 percent, achieved in large part by the Power of Organics. And the winegrowers describe the benefits they receive from using compost, including plant nutrients, moisture retention, disease suppression and weed control. Other articles in this issue further demonstrate how growing numbers of public and private sector entities are tapping the potential of the organic fraction of the waste stream.
Behold, the Power of Organics. – N.G.