BioCycle April 2006, Vol. 47, No. 4, p. 14
CAMARADERIE IN COMPOSTING
MASSACHUSETTS DEP OFFERS COMPOSTING ASSISTANCE TO SUPERMARKETS
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection announces its completion of the Supermarket Recycling webpage at: www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/ supermkt.htm. If your store is applying for Supermarket Recycling Program Certification, all forms are now available, reports Julia Wolfe, Commercial Waste Reduction Coordinator at MassDEP. MassDEP has limited funds available to assist supermarkets in setting up organics recycling programs. Each application will be reviewed on a rolling basis – the sooner you submit, the better chance you have to receive assistance, advises Wolfe. The updated “Supermarket Composting Handbook” is available electronically on this site as well as by contacting the Massachusetts Food Association at www.mafood.com. Wolfe can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.
CITY TURNS GREEN POWER INTO DOLLARS SAVED AT WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT
Last month, managers of Gresham’s wastewater treatment plant showed how it’s using a generator nicknamed “Co-Gen” to turn methane gas into both electrical power and heat. The Co-Gen is converting methane gas into 55 percent of the plant’s power needs while reducing annual electricity costs by $208,000 – an average of $17,000 savings per month. Project cost is $1.1 million. Engineers estimate payback in just five years.
Another significant factor in the project’s success is an $82,000 cash incentive from Energy Trust of Oregon to offset some start-up costs. Additional savings of $288,000 came from the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit Pass-Through Option.
BIO-BASED MATERIALS GET HIGH PRIORITY AT DUPONT RESEARCH LABORATORIES
Bio-based substances that can replace oil and gas as building blocks for chemicals are high on the research agenda for DuPont at its research center in Wilmington, Delaware. The DuPont company has allocated nearly 10 percent of its $1.3 billion research budget to extracting ingredients from carbohydrates – things that grow and can be infinitely replaced – rather than from hydrocarbons, which are readily depleted, reports Claudia Deutsch of The New York Times(2/28/06). DuPont currently makes 10 percent of its products from nonpetrochemical sources, says CEO Charles Holliday Jr., who expects to increase that amount to 25 percent by 2010 ($3 billion in revenues). But his real motive for stressing bio-based materials, adds Deutsch, is his belief that they yield superior products. For example, he notes, the corn-based propane diol used in DuPont carpet fibers, offers better dye absorption and stain resistance than its petrochemical version. “We’re using biology to solve problems that chemistry can’t,” sums up Holliday.
According to the Times, DuPont is working with the U.S. Energy Department to turn corn plants – “husks, ears, stems, everything” – into vehicular fuel. DuPont is also reported to be close to developing plant-based hair dyes and nail polishes that will not adhere to skin, and a textile fiber made from sugar that will act and feel like cotton.
Los Angeles, California
FURNITURE COUNCIL WORKS WITH RAINFOREST ALLIANCE TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY
Launched at the High Point Market in October, 2005, the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC) is taking steps to change the furniture industry. “We contacted everyone who attended the October meeting, outlining objectives and benefits,” says Gerry Cooklin, an SFC founder and CEO of South Cone Furniture headquartered in Gardena, California. “We are also developing a memorandum of understanding with the Rainforest Alliance.” Adds Daphne Hewitt of the Rainforest Alliance: “We’re excited to see an industry-led initiative encourage and promote sustainable forestry and sourcing practices.”
The SFC has two objectives: To assist manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices and to promote sustainable products. Members will be guided to full certification under wood harvesting standards set up by the Forest Stewardship Council and after certification, to educate consumers about sustainable products. For more information, visit: www.ra.org.
MANURE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS STEPS TO MINIMIZE RUNOFF
Recommendations from the state Manure Management Task Force on how to minimize manure runoff were presented earlier this month to the Agriculture and Natural Resources agencies charged with protecting Wisconsin’s water resources from the impacts of animal agriculture. “Our state goal should be for all farmers to implement spreading plans and manure hauling procedures,” said Steve Born of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “Another critical step is increasing funding for nutrient management plans. For the sake of our economy and environment, the time for addressing these issues is now.”
UNIVERSITY COMPOST FACILITY PROCESSES 10,800 TONS ON FOUR ACRES
The Washington State University Compost Facility is a fully operational, permitted plant with four acres equipped with retention ponds, runoff controls, product storage building and loading equipment. Managed by Rick Finch, the composting process takes about 12 weeks before product is screened and moved to curing piles. Standard feedstock mix is 83 percent animal manure and bedding, three percent coal ash, 10 percent processed compost, and one percent each of food residuals, potting plants, yard and wood residuals.
With local landfill fees and transportation costs at $163/ton, cost avoidance for composted materials is estimated at $1.5 million/year. Revenue from product sales and bedding use came to about $50,000.
“WSU intends to continue to develop the composting program into a teaching research and demonstration site for cutting edge, solid waste technologies,” say officials. It plans to add new technologies in composting, anaerobic digestion and renewable energy. Diverse approaches will facilitate research into whole carcass composting, plant and animal pathogen destruction, and other high risk organic wastes. A complete report on operations at WSU is planned for a coming issue of BioCycle.
ENERGY GROUP HELPS BRING ANAEROBIC DIGESTERS TO GREEN VALLEY POWER SUPPLY
Green Valley Dairy in Krakow, Wisconsin – owned by Guy Selsmeyer, John & Mark Jacobs and Jim Van Den Beg – is using two anaerobic digesters on their farm to generate approximately four million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a year. In comparison, that is enough to power about 400 average Wisconsin homes for one year. In addition, excess heat from the anaerobic digesters will meet the heating needs in the milk parlor and other spaces at Green Valley Dairy.
Rod Nilsestuen – Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection – visited the dairy on March 28, 2006 to see first-hand how Green Valley Dairy’s process works. “As electricity prices continue to rise in Wisconsin and the costs of renewable energy systems continue to fall, a growing number of the state’s large farms are implementing anaerobic digestion to reduce their utility bills and improve the environmental performance on the farm,” Secretary Nilsestuen said. Last September, at the BioCycle Fifth Annual Conference on “Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling,” the Secretary gave the opening plenary address.
Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s renewable energy initiative, provided valuable technical assistance to Green Valley Dairy by identifying key changes in equipment. Focus on Energy also provided assistance throughout the process of installing the anaerobic digestion project. The cost, which totaled over $2 million, was offset by a $179,700 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture plus a Focus on Energy additional grant of $45,000.
By supporting Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, the Renewable Energy Program has made the sun, wind, water and organic materials a bigger part of Wisconsin’s energy mix. For more details, call 800-762-7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.
CANADA’S COMPOSTING COUNCIL SCHEDULES 16TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE IN SEPTEMBER
In preparation for its 16th National Composting Conference on September 13-15, 2006 in Hamilton, Ontario, the Composting Council of Canada invites readers to submit papers. The following topics are “encouraged” along with one-page abstracts and a short biography: Compost Marketing Strategies; Technology Developments; Odor Control and Other Operational Issues; Education and Communication; Regulations and Standards; Program Implementation; Analytical and Applied Research; Special Waste Composting including: On-farm, Manure Management, Wood and Paper Fiber; Biosolids and Food Residuals. Send materials to: The Composting Council of Canada, 16 Northumberland St., Toronto, Ontario M6H 1P7, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for submissions is May 15, 2006. The Conference will be held at the Hamilton Convention Centre and Danielle Buklis is Program Coordinator.
MAKING COLORFUL TOTES FROM DISCARDED BURLAP BAGS
“Our goal is to remanufacture products from all leftover burlap coffee bean bags in Oregon and Washington,” says James Brannaman of the Arc of Multnomah Clackamas. His nonprofit organization also promotes employment for disabled workers by providing opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities. Continues Brannaman: “We’ve been able to reprocess over 60 tons of burlap coffee bean bags from local coffee roasters, while creating economically viable employment. The used burlap is picked up by our trucks from roasting locations and then converted by our sheltered workshops into reusable shopping tote bags and other environmentally sustainable products.”
Some burlap material becomes green “branding opportunities” for companies (convention bags, gift bags, etc.) Other uses are as a natural weed barrier at local vineyards instead of plastic or straw; hydro mulch fiber for hydroseeding; storm water mitigation devices for the city. Totes are sturdy, and 100 percent biodegradable. Visit www.thearcmult.org.