BioCycle March 2005, Vol. 46, No. 3, p. 14

Augusta, Maine
Many factors are working together to “make us feel pretty optimistic that we’re going to see an increase in recycling,” says Deputy Director Sue Inches of the Maine Planning Office. Markets and prices for recyclables are strong, as the Maine legislature assembles a bill to achieve a 50 percent recycling goal by January 1, 2009 – and also reduce MSW generation by five percent. Other factors noted: Recycled material collection has jumped 200 percent in the last 15 years; the state has three pilot composting programs to study food waste collection and is generally promoting composting; C&D companies in southern Maine are expanding materials recovery; and there’s more interest in developing regional programs. According to George McDonald of the state Planning Office, Maine is conducting a financial study of 50 municipalities to evaluate solid waste management costs – with much attention to the impact of recycling on lowering those costs.

Canon City, Colorado
Forest thinnings – mostly small wood chips that are a by-product of forest fire mitigation activities – are being used to create cleaner energy through a partnership of the Aquila, Inc. company in Canon City which owns a generating station and the U.S. Department of Energy. The forest thinning operations to reduce the threat of wildfire are being done by landowners, state and local governments, and the U.S. Forest Service. Thinning typically results in piles of slash and burn that are generally burned in place as a disposal method. ‘We hope that the success of this project will encourage more forest thinning work to be conducted and protect our forests from the damage and impact of wildfires,” says Rick Grice, chairman of the Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation.

The W. N. Clark Generating Station, owned by Aquila, will use the thinnings to replace part of the coal currently processed for fuel. Substituting the woody biomass in the fuel mix reduces sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide emissions. The plant plans to sell the environmental benefits from the project by issuing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). RECs represent the environmental attributes of renewable energy generation and can be sold in a voluntary market beyond the boundaries of a utility’s service area. “They expand the green power market and make it possible for people to support clean energy options,” adds the Governor’s Energy Management office.

Seattle, Washington
With a nationwide recycling average of 27 percent, according to the BioCycle State of Garbage in America survey in 2003, Seattle’s rate of 40 percent stands up well. But not well enough, since the city’s mandatory recycling law took effect this year. The new goal is 60 percent by the end of the decade. Starting in 2006, reports the Associated Press, people in single-family homes won’t get their trash picked up if they dump “significant amounts” of recyclables in their trash, defined by the city as more than 10 percent by volume. Owners of apartments, condos and businesses will face $50 fines. “So far, city officials say few people have complained. Most calls have come from people wondering how to comply with the new standards,” notes the AP. Seattle has budgeted $1.5 million for a three-year education campaign that began last year with such messages as “Why waste a good thing?”

Honolulu, Hawaii
According to Hawaii’s Health Department, about 800 million beverage containers are sold in the state annually. With help from a new bottle bill that charges a nickel per can or bottle, state officials hope the program will keep 80 percent out of the waste stream (and the sand). Two leading recycling firms that have been contracted by the state estimate that more than five million cans and bottles were redeemed the first week after the bill’s enactment. In states with deposit programs, about 490 bottles and cans per person are recycled on average each year, while it’s about 191 in nondeposit states, reports the organization Businesses and Environmentalists Allied for Recycling.

Palm Springs, California
“Operating expenses at our wastewater treatment plant have remained stable at a time when the price of electricity has risen over 70 percent,” notes Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden. Conversion of methane to electricity has reduced costs by nearly $80,000/year. The city in partnership with Veolia Water North America (which has been operating the treatment plant since 1999) received the Outstanding Achievement Award last month for Public-Private Partnerships from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Veolia Water acquired two microturbine generators through a grant program from the Southern California Air Quality Management District to generate electricity from the methane gas produced from wastewater treatment. The company also manages distribution of Class A biosolids produced at the plant as well as delivery of effluent for irrigation.

Pullman, Washington
Of the five million tons of potatoes grown by farmers in Washington State, about 15 percent wind up as culls because they do not meet minimum size, grade or quality standards. Culls are often sent on for further processing – or added to compost piles. Now, reports the American Society of Agricultural Engineers’ publication, Resource, Shulin Chen of Washington State University’s Biological Systems Engineering Department is using cull potatoes and wastewater from potato processing to make chitin, chitosan and lactic acid.

The second most abundant polysaccharide in nature, chitin and its derivatives can be used for clearing wastewater as well as in manufacturing cosmetics and in medical applications. Lactic acid is used as a food additive and in development of polylactic acid to make biodegradable plastics. As the economics improve for processing, the technology could reduce the environmental impact of potato waste and wastewater. Chen’s e-mail –

Albany, New York
Tom Fiesinger of the New York State Energy & Research Development Agency (NYSERDA) sends information about funding opportunities that “are now open for the next few months for competitive proposals that can include studies and construction of farm and/or food waste digester systems that would make electric power.” Here are summaries of Program Opportunity Notices (PONs):

PON 914 includes funding for feasibility studies and demonstrations of Combined Heat and Power systems. Digester based systems have received funding in earlier rounds. Proposals due 4/21/05. $10 million available. Up to $1,000,000 per demonstration project award.

PON 858 for feasibility studies for Combined Heat and Power and Renewable Power Generation. Proposals due 5/31/05. $250,000 available. Up to $50,000 of NYSERDA funds per study award.

PON 917 for Industrial Process & Productivity Improvement through application of innovative and underutilized technologies. Proposals due 4/27/05. $2.5 million available. Up to $250,000 for demonstrations.

Fiesinger also sends listings of 25 NYSERDA-supported digester projects as of mid-February 2005 that include: contractor name and contact; system designer; Type of anaerobic digester, estimated kW capacity; technology end products;project type and status; total project cost; NYSERDA and farm bill funding.The list is categorized by those operating, in start-up, under construction, and financing. A summary report will appear in a future BioCycle issue.

On March 17-18, 2005, the Cornell Manure Management and Pro-Dairy Programs – with partial funding from NYSERDA – held an Anaerobic Digestion Workshop in Syracuse. Featured sessions focused on economic criteria, configurations and sizing, selecting consultants, businesses involved in anaerobic digestion, net metering, biogas uses, project management as well as “putting it all together.” For details on the March and future conferences, contact: For information about NYSERDA programs and projects, visit

Devens, Massachusetts
According to a public works staff person at Mass Development, the cost of topdressing 40 acres of athletic fields with fertilizers and chemicals dropped from $75,000 in 2001 to $28,000 last year as a result of using 1/2-inch minus compost. To prepare fields, he core aerates in four directions then spreads 1,000 cubic yards of compost from an Agresoil site in Ipswich, Massachusetts at a rate of 25 cubic yards per acre. Also water usage dropped from 3 million gallons per year to 0.6 million gallons as a result of the compost applications. Sums up Mike Cabral of Mass Development: “We still apply our preemergent and broad leaf controls in the spring and our grub control in the summer, but because of the quality of the fields, we are considering reducing or altogether dropping our chemical applications, which will be another huge cost saving. The fields at Devens are heavily used and have never looked better.”

Portland, Maine
On May 24-25, 2005, the University of Maine, state agencies and BioCycle will hold a special symposium on “Composting Animal Mortalities and Slaughterhouse Residuals.” Sessions will cover key issues as biosecurity, wildlife and roadkill, carcass composting and alternative disposal methods. The session on Carcass Composting will discuss: Iowa’s Environmental Impact and Pathogen Survival Research; Trials with Large Animal Mortality Composting; Cornell Composting Trials; Use of Different Media; Composting Hog Mortalities in Nova Scotia; and In-House Turkey Composting. Alternative methods will present data on Anaerobic Digestion options; Alkaline Hydrolysis; and Composting Residue from Alkaline Digestion. The Biosecurity session will analyze data on: Managing An Avian Influenza Outbreak; Enzyme Degradation of BSE Prion; Foot and Mouth Disease, Equine Infectious Anemia; and Response Strategies.

The Symposium, which will be held at the Sheraton South Portland Hotel, includes sessions, exhibits and poster presentations. Registration fee is $175. To register, visit and click on “Symposium on Composting Mortalities and Slaughterhouse Residuals.”, as well as lower prices.

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