BioCycle January 2007, Vol. 48, No. 1, p. 16
RECYCLED OYSTER SHELLS BOOST RESTORATION IN COASTAL ECOSYSTEM
Following the success of a Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) pilot project to recycle oyster and clam shells from Virginia Beach restaurants and use for oyster restoration projects in Hampton Roads waterways, the program has expanded to Norfolk and Williamsburg, Virginia. Volunteers gathered 1,000 bushels of oyster and clam shells, dried and cleaned them, then used them for reef restoration and living shorelines projects. Partners in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation program include Norfolk Waste Management, Gloucester Seafood, Virginia Zoo and The Elizabeth River Project.
Baby oysters begin life as free-floating larvae but quickly settle to the bottom and attach themselves to hard surfaces. Their preferred place to grow is on other shells, but at present, many of the tributaries in Virginia lack enough shell to provide them with homes. The CBF recycled shell project addresses this habitat need. The groups will also work with the seafood industry to support commercial oyster aquaculture in Virginia.
View Royal, BC, Canada
KITCHEN TO CURB ORGANICS RECYCLING SUITS TOWN WELL
View Royal (pop. 2,200) in Canada’s Capital Regional District (CRD) collects kitchen food waste in organics recycling bins – following the lead of Oak Bay which started its program in October. After six weeks, that town has routed 20 percent more food residuals, soiled paper plates, etc. away from the landfill. The organics are collected and shipped to the International Composting Corp. facility in Nanaimo. Mixed with fish and wood waste, the household organics are composted in 15-meter rotating tubes.
The pilot program was adopted from Ladysmith, which launched British Colombia’s first household recycling project last February. Homeowners in that town pay 85 cents per month extra for organics pick up. The CRD is paying for View Royal and Oak Bay’s year-long pilot. “View Royal has a green conscience. It suits the mandate we have set out and suits the interests of Council,” says Mayor Graham Hill.
Elsewhere in the Greater Vancouver Region, a full-service organics recycling business in Victoria, reFUSE, collects organic discards from grocers, hotels, restaurants, institutions and private households. Reports Sonya Sundberg, executive director of the Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre (GVCEC) in British Colombia: In four years, reFUSE has expanded to recover more waste products for recycling, including soft plastic bags, used fluorescent tubes, and used cooking oil. reFUSE will provide Zero Waste Audits and solutions for all waste products, from program design to roll-out. The February 2007 issue of BioCycle will include a report from the GVCEC on its annual pumpkin smashing event, used to promote composting awareness.
UNIVERSITY RECEIVES MAJOR GRANT FOR CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAM
The Agronomy Department at Kansas State University was awarded a one-year grant of $1 million from the Robertson Foundation for research into the role of agricultural soils in reducing global warming. The funds will be used by the Consortium for Agricultural Soils Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases – a group of the nation’s top educators in the areas of soil carbon and greenhouse gas mitigation in agriculture. “The rapid buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in recent years has created increasing concern about the implications on our climate and environment,” explains Chuck Rice, KSU agronomy professor.
“Agriculture can help mitigate these problems, but we need to start measuring farm practices that reduce global warming gases. With proper management such as no-till, organic carbon levels in soils can be increased. Increasing soil carbon levels – a process called ‘soil carbon sequestration’ – helps reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Soil carbon sequestration is one of the most cost-effective ways available now for reducing greenhouse gases.”
The timing of this grant is critical, adds Sara Harper of Environmental Defense. “There are several climate policies being written for the upcoming Congress, and several states are implementing their own climate policies. As it stands now, agriculture is likely to be left out of these key policy discussions,” Harper points out. Agriculture can help mitigate climate change through practices that use less fossil fuel and by producing bioenergy crops to replace fossil fuels, while improving soil and water quality.
FARM SHOW FEATURES MORE THAN 40 EXHIBITS ON RENEWABLE ENERGY PROGRESS
“We are heading America’s charge for energy independence, creating jobs, growing the economy, and providing for our national security,” says Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. More than 40 exhibits at the State Farm Show in early January showed how renewable energy can be harvested from resources, especially in the form of biofuels. The recently launched PennSecurity Fuels initiative is committed to Pennsylvania generating 900 million gallons annually of domestically produced fuel in 10 years.
COMPOST COMPANY RECEIVES STATE’S FIRST MULTIPLE FEEDSTOCK PERMIT
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued the first-ever multifeedstock Solid Waste Composting Facility Permit to Royal Oak Farm, LLC near Evington. The permit allows Royal Oak Farm (ROF) to accept up to 516.5 tons/day of high quality organic solid waste materials to support the company’s production of compost and compost-based specialty soils. Acceptable wastes will include food processing residuals, agricultural and animal wastes, wood and vegetative debris, and select industrial solid wastes. No biosolids or mixed municipal solid waste can be accepted. ROF sells compost, topsoils, soil conditioners and specialty soils to landscapers and construction companies across Virginia. “We are very proud to be the first fully permitted solid waste composting facility in Virginia,” says Ken Newman, Vice-President and CEO. “This allows us to expand our business of reliable and reputable recycling of organic wastes to industries, businesses and municipalities throughout Virginia.” The company worked with Craig Coker of Coker Composting and Consulting in Roanoke to obtain the permit.
ROF has been composting about 30,000 tons/year of agricultural and select industrial food processing wastes at its 115-acre facility since 2000. This new permit will require that 10 acres of 9-inch thick crushed slag-based composting pads be upgraded with 6-inches of new crushed stone and a 4-inch asphalt layer; and that the existing storm water retention pond be lined with a 40-mil HDPE liner to protect groundwater. Royal Oak will also install a subterranean irrigation system to recycle the storm water as windrow irrigation water. Upon completion of this upgrade in April, 2007, ROF will start processing regulated solid wastes, such as short paper fiber, commercial sources of food wastes, and by-products from animal rendering facilities, in addition to the materials already being composted. The company utilizes a Backhus compost turner and Doppstadt trommel screen.
RECYCLING CENTER INITIATES FOOD RESIDUALS COLLECTION
Sandy River Recycling Association (SRRA) is a nonprofit organization that offers recycling services to small towns in western Maine. Its services are paid for by member communities, over 30 are involved in the program. SRRA collects and processes the usual recyclables – mixed paper, cardboard, newspaper, glass, aluminum, metal and plastics. It also takes computers, lamps containing mercury, thermometers and thermostats. About 18 months ago, Sandy River began collecting food residuals from two institutions – a local college and a hospital. “We go three to four times/week to collect the food waste,” says Ron Slater, director of SRRA. “We provide 5-gallon pails with screw tops that have a rubber seals. Filled pails are placed in a small kiosk outside, where we collect them and leave empty, clean pails. We also service these institutions with recycling, collecting various paper fractions.”
Food residuals are composted at Sandy River’s recycling facility, along with leaves from the town of Farmington and some horse bedding from a local track. “We plan to branch out eventually to do food waste collection from stores, restaurants and school cafeterias,” adds Slater. “It is a natural service for us to offer as we have a transportation system in place that goes out to every town at least every two weeks. We aren’t charging anything to collect the food waste. I estimate that in the first year of the program – from September 2005 to September 2006 – we collected about 14 tons of food waste.” Currently SRRA collects primarily preconsumer food residuals, but plans to start taking postconsumer at some point in 2007.
FIRST “CARBON TAX” TO REDUCE GAS EMISSIONS IS APPROVED BY CITY OFFICIALS
What is considered to be the nation’s first “carbon tax” to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases will take place in Boulder, Colorado on April 1, 2007 and be based upon the number of kilowatt-hours used. City officials said the revenue – estimated at $6.7 million by 2012 when the goal is to have reduced carbon emissions by 350,000 metric tons – would be collected by Xcel Energy, the city’s primary gas and electric utility. It’s estimated that the tax will add $16/year to the average residential electricity bill and $46 for businesses.
According to Boulder’s environmental affairs manager Jonathan Koehn, the tax will pay for the “climate action plan efforts to increase energy efficiency in homes and buildings, switch to renewable energy, and reduce vehicle miles traveled.” The objective is to reduce carbon levels to seven percent less than those in 1990 which amounts to a 24 percent reduction from current levels.
As reported in The New York Times, the carbon tax will permit Boulder to reach goals set by the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, which requires 35 developing nations to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. “The world’s two top polluters – the United States and China – have not signed the pact,” notes the Times.
A similar program was begun in Oregon in 2001, where a three percent fee is assessed by the two largest investor-owned utilities, says an analyst with the Portland Office of Sustainable Development. Tens of millions of dollars are transferred to the Energy Trust of Oregon, which in turn distributes cash incentives to companies and residents using alternative sources like biomass energy, solar and wind power.
DIGESTER SYSTEM BENEFITS DAIRY AND MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
Velmar Green and his Green Meadow Farms installed a manure digester in the 1980s, operating it for seven years then shutting it down because it was too much work. Last fall, a new digester system was installed for the 3,800 cows, reports Manure Manager in its Nov-Dec. 2006 issue. “We’re working closely with Michigan State University (MSU) on the digester part,” explains Green. “On the generator side, we have an agreement with North American Natural Resources, which collects methane from area landfills. They’ll run the methane through their generator and sell it to the local utility, Consumer’s Power.”
In June 2005, the Michigan Public Service Commission awarded a $2 million grant to the MSU Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department to build the anaerobic digester at Green Meadow Farms, where the veterinary school has a research center. The objective is to demonstrate profitable energy production on a dairy farm, with implications for environmental protection, carbon sequestration and farm sustainability.
Other biomass sources include crop residues, food waste and forest products. Green Meadow currently has sand-manure separation systems, phosphorous removal and a composting operation that will be integral parts of the manure management system. The digester is from a German company, Biogas Nord.