BioCycle June 2008, Vol. 49, No. 6, p. 16
GRANTS HELP EXPAND STATE’S COMPOSTING INFRASTRUCTURE
Katherine McGinty, Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, announced a total of $400,000 in Compost Infrastructure Development grants for 2008. “By diverting useful materials from landfills, we can create jobs and save money,” said McGinty. “Organic waste such as food, grass clippings and brush account for more than one-third of all trash. These grants provide incentives for businesses to find value in these organic materials.”
Grant applications will be accepted until July 18 and are available at www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Compost. Up to $100,000/grant will be awarded. Additional consideration will be given to applications developed in consultation with the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center (www.parmc.org; 717-948-6660). Last year, six grants were awarded, with recipients including farms, colleges and a nonprofit servicing a restaurant.
McGinty added that Pennsylvania’s recycling and reuse industry leads Northeastern states in employment, payroll and sales numbers. More than 3,247 recycling and reuse businesses and organizations made more than $18.4 billion in gross annual sales, paid $305 million in taxes, and provided jobs for more than 81,322 employees at an annual payroll of approximately $2.9 billion.
Florida City, Florida
SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT CONNECTS GENERATORS TO COMPOSTING
The South Dade Soil and Water Conservation District (SDSWCD), a nonprofit governmental subdivision of the state of Florida, has developed a program for large producers of organic materials to start composting, in some cases using the compost on their property. Projects have included composting of cow manure at the Butler Oaks Dairy in Lorida, producing a product for nursery growers as a substitute for peat, and composting of poultry litter and carcasses at a farm in Mayo. “We also are working with Florida International University and its food contractor, Aramark, on a proposal to compost food waste, yard trimmings and paper, with the finished product used on campus landscapes to reduce chemical fertilizer use,” says Morgan Levy, Administrator of the SDSWCD.
The District is a distributor for BW Organics, which manufactures in-vessel rotary drums. The dairy farm has a Model 1050, and the poultry farm has a Model 408. “We have provided the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida – which recently purchased a 40 cubic yard load of Butler Oaks’ compost – with a proposal to purchase an in-vessel composter for its food waste, yard trimmings and paper,” adds Levy. “The resort has eight restaurants and 140 acres of golf courses.”
INTERVALE COMPOST REMAINS OPEN, AT LEAST FOR NOW
Intervale Compost Products (ICP), Vermont’s largest composting facility, will continue operations, at least until the end of this month. ICP processes 9,000 tons of organic materials annually, including food scraps and yard trimmings. The nonprofit Intervale Center, which oversees the composting facility, had planned to close it on May 1 because it could not afford the costs of obtaining an Act 250 state land use permit. The Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) Board agreed to operate the facility for two months and pay the monthly $10,000 operating costs while the permit problems are resolved, says Tom Moreau, CSWD’s general manager.
ICP had been facing fines from the Vermont Attorney General’s Office for not applying for the Act 250 permit. The Intervale Center had begun the application process and spent approximately $200,000 in 2007 for civil engineers, wetlands scientists, hydrologists, other experts and legal counsel. However, the Center decided that it could not afford further permit application costs, including archaeological studies, which Moreau estimates could run from $300,000 to $350,000. On February 26, 2008 the Intervale Center Board voted to begin closing down the composting facility.
Moreau says the goals during the months of May and June are to resolve the issues with the Attorney General’s office, develop a more economical leachate utilization plan and to develop a two-year agreement for CSWD to operate ICP. “I don’t think all the permitting issues will be completed by June 30th, but we anticipate that all of the parties (various state agencies, the Intervale Center and CSWD) will have charted a very clear course to follow for obtaining the necessary permits to operate the facility for approximately two years,” he says. Over the period from June 2008 to June 2010, CSWD will look for alternative sites.
The Vermont Legislature passed legislation (H.873) this spring allowing composting facilities that have a Vermont Act 78 Solid Waste Permit to be exempt from Act 250 until June 30, 2010. The Intervale Center has submitted a revised solid waste permit application to the State of Vermont. “It is yet to be determined whether the permit application needs further revision,” says Moreau. “If CSWD and the Intervale Center can work out an agreement for CSWD to operate the ICP, then CSWD will pay for any further permit application changes.”
FARM POWER AND PUGET SOUND ENERGY TO DEVELOP DAIRY DIGESTER
A dairy digester to produce electric power from manure will be built by Farm Power Northwest, of Skagit County, Washington. The technology holds the promise of both an environmentally friendly energy source and a benefit to local dairy farmers and the Skagit County economy.
Puget Sound & Energy (PSE), in conjunction with Farm Power founders Kevin and Daryl Maas of Mount Vernon, signed the agreement as a first step toward generating up to 1.5 megawatts of electrical power – enough to meet the needs of 1,000 households. Under the agreement, PSE will purchase electricity generated by Farm power as well as the associated renewable energy credits resulting from the renewable energy source.
Ithaca, New York
CAMPUS CLOSES FACILITY, SUPPORTS LOCAL COMPOSTER
Ithaca College began a campus composting program in 1993 as a means to divert food scraps. The program became a service offered by the Facilities Department, but was only tangentially connected to the college’s educational mission, because it is not an agricultural school, explains Mark Darling, Ithaca College’s Program Coordinator for the Recycling/Resource Management division. “The primary reason for closing our facility was the opening of Cayuga Compost,” says Darling. “This allowed us to support a local business, one whose focus is producing excellent compost.”
Cayuga Compost and Tompkins County cooperated on a six-month food waste composting pilot in 2006, collecting approximately 200 tons. The company now offers weekly collection of 55-gallon bins to several businesses and institutions, as well as for public events. The County provides yard trimmings for the mix; finished compost is sold in specialty blends to landscapers and wineries, as well as in bags at retail outlets.
Fresno, Kings Counties, California
FUNDING ADVANCES FOR DIGESTER PROJECTS
Anaerobic digester projects in California’s Central Valley received an allocation from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC) for $65.35 million to support financing of renewable natural gas (RNG) facilities. Microgy, Inc., a subsidiary of Environmental Power Corporation, received the debt limit allocation for two separate projects – the Riverdale Cluster in Fresno County, which consists of digesters at three adjacent dairies with expected output of 621,000 MMBtu/year of RNG, and the Hanford Cluster in Kings County, which consists of three dairies with expected output of 732,000 MMBtu/year of RNG. Marketing of tax-exempt bonds will begin shortly to support construction of the facilities. The debt allocation amount includes funding for capitalized interest, debt service reserve funds and financing costs. Capital costs include expenditures required for “hub and spoke” type projects where digesters are distributed over multiple farms and raw biogas is transported to a centralized gas conditioning system.
Overall, Microgy plans to build, own and operate anaerobic digesters at four locations in the Central Valley involving eight dairies. In addition to the Riverdale and Hanford clusters, there is the Bar 20 project in Karman – which recently received its air, water and conditional use permits, enabling Microgy to submit an application to CDLAC for a debt allocation – and the Joseph Gallo Farms project in Atwater. The four locations, which will process manure and other agricultural and food industry residuals, are expected to produce a total of over 2 million MMBtu of RNG annually. Microgy has an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to purchase up to 8,000 MMBtu/day of RNG.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
RECYCLING VOLUME INCREASES 17 PERCENT
The city of Baton Rouge implemented a single-stream recycling program in early 2006, providing households with 64-gallon carts. While recycling increased 35 percent, it wasn’t close enough to the city’s goal of a 50 percent increase over the 2005 rate. To improve curbside set out by residents, Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge joined forces with the Curbside Value Partnership to launch an educational campaign. “CART It! Create A Recycling Tradition in Baton Rouge” included billboards and bus shelter posters, library displays and a combination of paid and free public service ads in local newspaper, radio and TV media outlets. The result – households responded by recycling an average of more than 3.5 lbs/household, resulting in a 16.4 percent overall increase in recycling. Data from the Recycling Foundation, the local MRF, showed an increase in recycling tons of 51.4 percent as a result of the switch to single stream, and the outreach campaign.
A MOTHER CREATES AN ECO-FRIENDLY ROLE
Sarah Ruppert, a native of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, was recently profiled on a website that recognizes people who are going to extraordinary measures to help the environment. She is one of 12 founding “PA iCons” in a program designed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to show how to live lightly on the earth. With her husband and son Silas, their trees in summer cool their house and make living without air conditioning pleasant.
Light enters through three windows bouncing off the white kitchen cabinets. The windows, back door and new skylight were all recycled – with the windows coming from a yard sale. “I like nothing better than to have something that would have gone to waste getting a rebirth,” says Scott Johnson. “We weigh our purchasing decisions against demand for resources and energy.”
“Most Americans can’t do the splashy green things,” says Sarah. “But so much of what you can do are passive, subtle changes. It’s choices.”
FIRST BICYCLE SHARING PROGRAM LAUNCHED
A new public-private venture called SmartBike DC will make 120 bicycles available at 10 locations in Washington, DC. Called the “first of its kind in the nation,” the program will operate in a similar way as the car-sharing programs like Zipcar – with the District partnering with Clear Channel Outdoor to put the bikes on the street. As part of the arrangement, Clear Channel will have exclusive advertising rights to the city’s bus shelters. The company has made a similar deal with San Francisco; Chicago and Portland, Oregon are considering proposals.
For a $40 annual membership fee, SmartBike users can check out three-speed bikes for three hours at a time. While automated bike-sharing programs are new to the United States, bike-sharing has been widely used in places like Amsterdam, where the idea goes back to the 1960s.
TURNING FOOD WASTE INTO ENERGY AT EAST BAY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT
A pilot demonstration project is showing that 100 tons of food waste anaerobically digested per day produces enough energy to power up to 1,400 homes. In California, approximately 137 wastewater treatment plants have anaerobic digesters for biosolids, with an excess capacity of 15 to 30 percent. This excess capacity could provide a big opportunity for postconsumer food waste in California. Digestion also reduces volatile organic compounds if used prior to composting; produces biogas that can be used for energy; and reduces solids prior to transporting to a compost facility. Food waste is the largest category of MSW going to California landfills at 5.9 million tons or 16 percent of total MSW.
USEPA Region 9 provided a grant to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in Oakland, California to investigate food waste digestion. Processing involves creating a slurry from presorted food waste and reducing contaminants prior to digester feeding. An article describing the study and its finding was in the January 2008 issue of BioCycle.