BioCycle December 2006, Vol. 47, No. 12, p. 4
LAST month, we had an interesting exchange with —— subscriber. I was explaining the history of the name BioCycle, noting that when it was adopted in 1981, we felt it captured all facets of biological recycling of organic wastes – as opposed to disposal or thermal treatment. The person I was speaking with seemed a bit surprised by my explanation, responding he always thought the name represented recycling of biobased feedstocks into biopower, biofuels and bioproducts such as compost and mulch. The technological process by which this conversion is achieved was not a distinction in his mind. Instead, it was the conversion from organic waste to renewable resource.
As 2006 draws to a close, it is enlightening to reflect on this brief conversation. Twenty-five years have passed since the name change to BioCycle. In that time, there has been a dramatic evolution in the technologies available to convert organic wastes into commodities. In the 1980s, for example, waste-to-energy was essentially solid waste incineration with some energy recovery. In 2006, “waste-to-energy” encompasses gasification, pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion and composting with heat recovery – as well as the latest generation of combustion plants for solid waste. And even disposal can have an energy recovery component!
So what does this mean exactly for the editorial mission of BioCycle? One word comes to mind – opportunity. Because when push comes to shove, we are in the business of renewable resource management, capitalizing on opportunities to turn waste streams into commodities that can reduce global warming, provide energy independence and sustain our soil, water and air natural resources. This month’s Compost User Forum is a case in point (page 56). Agricultural researchers have been successful using compost as an alternative to methyl bromide (a greenhouse gas contributor) to control disease in strawberry crops. This latest project demonstrated the use of yard trimmings and manure-based composts contained in raised bed “socks” to control strawberry root rot.
We are excited that the BioCycle toolbox continues to expand in directions that include biological conversion technologies as well as technologies that convert biobased feedstocks into nutrients, soil improvers and renewable energy components. The critical connections that have been made in 2006 continue with vigor, more constructive outreach and greater impact that show no boundaries for organics recycling. As we move into the new year of 2007, we are confident that we all will see continued progress in the steady implementation of ideas, methods and results that power the conversion from organic wastes to renewable resources.