BioCycle November 2007, Vol. 48, No. 11, p. 14
Montclair, New Jersey: University Takes On Food Waste With Rotary Digester
Montclair University, New Jersey’s second largest school (after Rutgers) recently purchased an aerobic digester to compost campus food residuals. Nicholas Smith-Sebasto, Associate Professor in the school’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science, received a $25,000 grant from the John and Margaret Post Foundation to start the initiative, which officially began in Fall 2007. Approximately one ton of pre and postconsumer food waste is diverted each month from one of the University’s kitchens, operated by Sodexho. After collection, the materials are mixed with wood chips in the digester, a BW Organics Model 512.
Smith-Sebasto notes that Montclair University was skeptical of the project at first, concerned that odors would be an issue, since the vessel is located behind a new $78 million building that hosts campus visitors. In fact, quite the contrary has occurred. Enough food waste has been diverted to replace the four odorous food waste dumpsters in the parking lot, which had to be emptied daily. Now there is one compactor, emptied once a month, eliminating an outdoor pest problem as well. The aerobic digester, which has a maximum capacity of six cubic yards, processes the material for three days at high temperatures. The uncured compost, which is spread on campus green spaces, has proven to be weed-free on three test plots. For a bulking agent, a local high-end furniture maker drops off bags of shavings and sawdust that he once paid to dispose of – in fact, the campus was recently composting wood scraps from Jennifer Lopez’s new cabinets. Future plans include buying a larger composting unit, capable of handling food waste from the entire campus, which has 16,000 undergraduate students. The University’s food service contract is up for renewal, and he is trying to work composting into the agreement.
Vancouver, Washington: Regional Fast Food Chain Institutes Composting
The Burgerville chain of quick service restaurants, based in the Pacific Northwest, has a goal of diverting 85 percent of its waste stream chain-wide via source reduction, recycling and composting. Owned by The Holland, Inc., 35 of the 39 stores have active recycling programs and nine are composting preconsumer food waste. “This includes meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, potato products, banana peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and burger wraps,” says Amaranth Wilson, Burgerville’s Recycling Trainer. Diverted organics are taken to the Cedar Grove Composting facility in the Seattle region. Restaurants in Portland, Oregon are part of the city of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development’s commercial organics recycling program; restaurants in the Vancouver region participate in Clark County, Washington’s program. “We get the internal collection containers through these programs,” adds Wilson. “We buy compostable bags to line the containers, and make arrangements with the haulers servicing the organics collection routes. We encourage each restaurant to set up the recycling and composting programs in a way that works best for them. We want the employees to be stewards of the program.”
Burgerville currently generates 340 tons of waste monthly. The Holland Inc. has found that recycling and composting is costing less than garbage removal. According to the company, if Burgerville moves 85 percent of its waste stream to composting or recycling, the company would assume a $100,000 cost savings in waste removal charges each year. A complete article about the Burger-ville recycling and organics diversion program will appear in the next issue of BioCycle.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Sustainable Communities Through Urban Farming And Vermicomposting
Growing Power, started by former professional basketball player Will Allen, is a nonprofit organization and land trust that seeks to build sustainable and equitable food systems. Allen gave up basketball for a marketing job at Proctor & Gamble, but then left the corporate world in 1982 and bought “the last working farm in Milwaukee.” After establishing the farm as a nonprofit, sustainable, equitable urban food source (currently producing 100,000 pounds of chemical-free vegetables per year), he merged it with Growing Power, a training center to reconnect people with the land. The organization teaches people from diverse backgrounds about community food systems through hands-on training and demonstrations.
Growing Power produces vermicompost for sale and hosts monthly workshops on the benefits of vermicomposting and intensive vegetable growing. Since 2000, they’ve been collecting food waste from grocery stores (Sendik’s Food Market) and more recently from local coffee roasters (Alterra Coffee). They also compost meat and fish. There are several greenhouses on its two-acre plot, which among other things house an aquaculture project and the vermicomposting operations. Local students are involved with the vermicomposting. Food waste that cannot be handled by the worm boxes is composted in windrows, or taken to Allen’s farm. Visitors and volunteers view and get involved with all aspects of the operations at Growing Power’s learning center and farm. The organization is now in Chicago as well, with the possibility to expand to other cities. For more information, visit http://www.growingpower.org or call (414) 527-1546.
Columbus, Ohio: Community And Market Development Grants To Be Issued In Ohio
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides financial assistance through its Community Development Grant Program to local governments designing projects for collection and processing of recyclable materials. The Market Development program offers grant funds to Ohio businesses that can create the necessary infrastructure for marketing recyclable materials. The division seeks proposals for such materials as organic feedstocks (food- and fiber-based), carpet and padding, C&D debris, office paper, old corrugated cardboard and old newsprint. Informational meetings will be held Dec. 11 and Dec. 12, 2007 by Ohio DNR, Assembly Center-East Room, 2045 Morse Road, Bldg. E-1, Columbus, Ohio 43229. Call 614-265-6407.
Competitive awards will be based on: Demonstration of positive economic and environmental impact; Project will accomplish goals; Evolution into a permanent program; Past performance; Consistency with local solid waste management; Financial need; and Comprehensive responses.
New Brunswick, New Jersey: Biomass Energy Potential In New Jersey
The study, “Assessment of Biomass Energy Potential for New Jersey,” was conducted by the state’s Agricultural Experiment Station, completed in July 2007. Objectives were to: 1) Assess the characteristics and quantity of New Jersey’s biomass resources; 2) Assess technologies (commercially or near commercially available) that are capable of producing biopower or biofuels; 3) Develop the first statewide mapping of waste/biomass resources and bioenergy potential; and 4) Develop policy recommendations for moving New Jersey into the forefront of bioenergy innovation. In addition, a “Bioenergy Calculator” that estimates potential biopower and biofuel generation from current and projected biomass feedstocks in New Jersey was developed. Recommended next steps include the establishment of an effective institutional, regulatory and feedstock supply infrastructure, as well as comprehensive strategic and tactical industry development plans.
According to Margaret Brennan of the Station, the research yielded six major findings about the state’s biomass resources: 1) An estimated 8.2 million dry tons (MDT) of biomass are produced annually in New Jersey. 2) Of that 8.2 MDT of biomass, approximately 5.6 MDT (65 percent) could ultimately be available to produce energy in the form of power or transportation fuels. 3) New Jersey’s estimated biomass resource of 5.6 MDT could deliver up to 1,124 MW of power in 2007, and 1,299 MW of power in 2020 (16 percent increase), if all biomass is utilized by electricity generating technologies. If all biomass is utilized by fuel production technologies, 311 million gallons of gasoline equivalent (GGE) in 2007 and 335 million GGE by 2020 (8 percent increase) could be produced. 4) Almost 75 percent of New Jersey’s biomass is produced directly by the state’s population, in the form of solid waste (e.g. municipal waste). This large proportion of waste-based biomass supports the recommendation that New Jersey pursue the development of an energy from waste industry. 5) The majority of New Jersey’s biomass is concentrated in the counties of central and northeastern New Jersey, due to the large populations in those counties. The amount of solid waste in the state will increase by 10.55 percent by 2020, due to a projected population increase of about 10 percent, or about 1,000,000 more people. 6) A final significant finding is that agriculture and forestry management comprise the majority of the remaining biomass produced in New Jersey and therefore, are also important potential energy sources.
A more complete report on the general findings of this energy potential evaluation will appear in the December 2007 issue of BioCycle.
Franklin, Tennessee: Compost Aged Like A Fine Tennessee Whiskey
Rick Morris’s Compost Farm has been producing Royal Soil since 1996. Morris manages his operations at the “source” on different horse farms around Franklin. Horse farms in Tennessee are allowed to use one acre of their land for manure storage and composting, which eliminated the need for obtaining permits. The windrows of horse stall waste are uncovered for the most part to collect rainwater (during heavy rainfall the finished compost is covered). However, the drought this year led him to other sources of hydration, such as a local pond. Morris also began adding soybean meal – 50 pounds per two yards of compost – during the drought because the manure dried out, becoming more of a carbon, and needing the extra boost of nitrogen.
From start to finish, the compost takes a minimum of six months, with allowance for 90 days of aging. “Compost needs to be well cured, just like good Tennessee whiskey,” explains Morris. He uses a 753 Bobcat to turn the windrows, and has recently experimented with adding whiskey distillery by-products of corn, rye and barley, in both liquid and dry forms. He is interested in expanding into vermicomposting, and is developing a compost tea and KIK, a similarly concentrated natural fertilizer. Royal Soil can either be delivered locally in bulk, or picked up in 45-pound bags. Visit www.CompostFarm.com or call (615) 975-6000.
San Antonio, Texas: Garden-Ville Celebrates 50 Years Of Composting And Recycling
With a proud tradition dating back to 1957, Malcolm Beck’s Garden-Ville celebrated 50 years at its flagship store in late September, where it became a leader in composting and recycling, producing new products for the horticulture industry. They include premium organic garden products such as mulch, compost, soils and organic weed killers. The company also distributes many natural products, including bat guano from Bracken Cave (the largest active bat cave in the world). Garden-Ville has retail locations in Austin, San Marcos, Georgetown and San Antonio. Visit: www.garden-ville.com.