BioCycle April 2009, Vol. 50, No. 4, p. 12
COW POWERED TRUCKS AT DAIRY FARM
Hilarides Dairy, a 10,000-head dairy, recently upgraded its anaerobic digestion (AD) system to produce biomethane for its heavy duty trucks. Phase 3 Renewables integrated QuestAir’s pressure swing adsorption (PSA) into the facility to upgrade a portion of the biogas generated from AD. The dairy manure generates 226,000 cubic feet of biogas per day, which QuestAir’s M-3200 technology purifies into compressed natural gas (CNG). This replaces the 650 gallons/day of diesel that the dairy’s two heavy-duty trucks were consuming, prior to being converted to run on biomethane.
Rob Hilarides, the dairy’s owner, received a $600,000-grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB)’s Alternative Fuel Incentive Program, which subsidizes projects facilitating greater use of nonpetroleum fuels. “It’s energy projects like this that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get us off our dependency of foreign oil,” says Mary Nichols, Chairwoman of CARB. “It also addresses sources of long term air and water pollution problems.”
Floyd County, Virginia
FAMILY BUSINESS COLLECTS AND COMPOSTS FOOD WASTE
Poplar Manor Enterprises, LLC (PME) became the second solid waste composting facility in the state of Virginia to be permitted for food waste (the other being Royal Oak Farms, LLC). Located in Floyd County, the family owned and operated facility collects food waste and most of its other organic waste streams. Calin and Mindy Farley, COO and CFO respectively, are PME’s only employees, operating equipment, conducting lab tests, sales and marketing. The business is owned by Calin’s parents and located on 7 acres of their 132-acre farm.
Calin Farley began composting on-farm manures after graduating from college in 2005, and in 2007 hired Craig Coker, a composting consultant based in Vinton, Virginia, to explore options for expanding into food waste composting. The permitting process started in January 2008, and took about a year. Now designated as a Category 3 compost facility, it is permitted to accept 1,125 tons/year of yard trimmings, food waste and manure. “It is one of the hardest things you could attempt to get with the DEQ, because the regulations for composting facilities were written in the 1970s and compost facilities fall under the same category as landfills,” says Mindy Farley in a newspaper article.
In a pilot project, PME has an agreement with the Southgate food centers at Virginia Tech to collect preconsumer food waste. Southgate employees process all of the food for the campus’s dining halls, placing preconsumer scraps in 48-gallon carts. PME tips the carts into its truck, and washes them using an on-truck system, before hauling the waste back to the farm for composting. PME also receives leaves picked up by the town of Chistiansburg, and is interested in expanding into postconsumer food waste, such as from Floyd County schools, and residential pick up. The facility uses a Sitler 509, tow-behind windrow turner, and screens its compost before selling it to gardeners, contractors and homeowners.
Ithaca, New York
UNIVERSITY LAUNCHES RENEWABLE BIOENERGY INITIATIVE
The Cornell University Renewable Bioenergy Initiative (CURBI) was recently announced, as part of the school’s Advanced Sustainability Action Plan and the Cornell Climate Action Plan. CURBI will examine campus biomass sources, including about 8,000 tons/year of organic waste, along with several technologies for converting those materials into energy sources. A feasibility study, funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, was launched in January by engineering firm Stearns and Wheler to assess the engineering, economic and environmental viability of technologies such as pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion and high-efficiency direct combustion. CURBI is interested in “stackable” technologies, where waste from one process can be reused in another. In addition to being an operations and research-based facility, the processes will be used for teaching and to showcase cutting-edge technologies for students and the community.
FIRST PERMIT RECEIVED TO COMPOST FOOD WASTE
Greenco Environmental LLC recently became the first commercial composting operation in Georgia to receive a permit to compost food waste. Georgia permits food waste composting facilities through its Environmental Protection Division’s Land Protection Branch, which also permits landfills and transfer stations. “Nobody in Georgia was composting food waste,” says Tim Lesko, founder and president of Greenco. “We were the first one to go through the permitting process and the state didn’t know how to handle it. It took almost 18 months and we finally started operating the facility in late November 2008. Hopefully the process will go more smoothly for the next facility.”
Greenco is permitted to handle 40,000 tons of food waste per year, and a total of up to 160,000 tons of organic waste. Food wastes are mixed with ground yard trimmings and wood waste upon arrival at the 32-acre facility. The blended material is formed into windrows and composted for 90 days, with finished compost sold in bulk to farmers, landscapers and manufacturers of bagged garden products.
Food waste generators utilizing the newly permitted facility include Whole Foods supermarkets, Destiny Produce (a wholesaler of organic produce), Ready Pac Produce and restaurants from Atlanta’s new downtown Zero Waste Zone program. Georgia residents send more than 17 million tons of garbage to landfills each year, which is double the national average for per person waste generation. With Greenco’s facility paving the way, the state’s diversion may begin to improve.
PEDAL-POWERED FOOD SCRAPS COLLECTION
Pedal Co-op, started in 2007 to collect recyclables from a neighborhood bar, has expanded to include 45 recycling customers and 83 composting customers, including bars, food stores, offices and coffee shops. It also delivers bread for a bakery, magazines for a new green publication, and offers moving service. All via bike-powered trailers.
John Paul MacDuffie Woodburn, aka Woody, started the co-op in 2007 with his old housemate Peter Malandra, but the organization now boasts eight member-employees, five mountain bikes and four trailers. For recycling, Pedal Co-op charges 21 cents/gallon, plus a $1 pickup fee, and bikes the materials to Blue Mountain Recycling. For yard trimmings and food waste, the charge is $2.50 per three-gallon bag, collected and biked to a community garden in University City for composting. For more on the Pedal Co-op, visit: www.pedalcoop.org.
American Fork, Utah
REDUCING ODORS FROM HUMANURE COMPOSTING
Utah Valley’s north sewer district, which currently composts biosolids with chipped yard trimmings in outdoor windrows, is conducting a pilot project to consider upgrading its operation. The facility produces 30,000 cy of finished compost per year, sold at $20/cy, and uses the $500,000/year in revenue to helps keep sewer fees down. However, odors have been an issue.
For the pilot, Utah Valley shipped tons of biosolids to Salt Lake Valley, where it is being composted using an existing Managed Organic Recycling (MOR) aeration and cover system. Tests are measuring the ability of the system to both reduce odors and expedite composting time. Odors are measured under the compost cover and above to determine how much is mitigated. Finished compost from the pilot will remain at the Salt Lake facility.
If proven to successfully reduce odors and composting time, Utah Valley is considering installing a similar MOR System at its facility, which would cost up to $2 million.
TONNAGE JUMPS WITH ADDITION OF RESIDENTIAL FOOD
In July 2008, the City of Olympia added food waste to its existing residential yard trimmings green cart service, increasing curbside organics tonnages by about 400 tons/year to reach 4,000 tons/year. The program is voluntary, with the choice of a 95-gallon or 35-gallon green cart (same cost), and biweekly collection (half of the city each week). Garbage and recycling are collected every other week on an alternating schedule. Currently, about 47 percent of the residential garbage customers have signed up for green carts. All food waste, including meat, dairy and food-soiled paper, is accepted, mixed in with yard trimmings.
“Olympia has about 13,500 residential garbage customers,” says Ron Jones, Senior Program Specialist at Olympia’s Public Works office. “We delivered over 6,000 Norseman kitchen pails during the program roll-out, and new subscribers still receive pails, while supplies last. We don’t know how many are actually used, but this helped make a statement and get the message out.” The source separated organics are sent to Silver Springs Organics in Rainier, Washington, where they are composted using Engineered Compost Systems (ECS) aerated static piles. Silver Springs provides a list of approved compostable plastics.
“The City had a pretty intensive outreach program with the roll-out last year,” says Jones. “We had neighborhood meetings, multiple mailers, a customer survey, pail deliveries, site visits, and promotions on the Internet, local public TV and newspaper. Our goal is to capture at least 50 percent of the organic waste still sent to landfill by 2013, which means more subscribers and increased participation amongst current subscribers.”