BioCycle August 2009, Vol. 50, No. 8, p. 14
Alameda County, California
LANDFILL BAN ON PLANT DEBRIS
Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board (known as StopWaste.org) announced a ban on landfill disposal of plant debris this past June. Materials included in the ban are grass, leaves, shrubbery, vines, tree branches and plant trimmings. StopWaste.org estimates that up to 100,000 tons/year of plant material are landfilled in Alameda County from landscapers, businesses and residences. The ban, which is in effect, is being implemented gradually.
Phase I is an informational and promotional campaign; Phase II starts October 1, 2009, with warnings issued for not keeping plant debris free of garbage contamination. Phase 3 begins January 1, 2010, with potential fines issued for failing to separate plant debris from garbage.
“The ordinance is part of our long-term strategy for a sustainable local economy,” says Gary Wolf, Executive Director of StopWaste.org. “It will help meet the demand for compost for California urban landscapes, orchards and vineyards, while reducing the amount of plant debris that needlessly ends up in landfills.” The ban is intended to help the county meet its voter-mandated goal of reducing waste going to landfill by 75 percent by 2010.
Oneonta, New York
IN-VESSEL COMPOSTING MEETING
The 6th Annual In-Vessel Composting Users Group conference was held in Oneonta at the end of June. Presentations covered topics such as carbon credits for composters, municipal solid waste (MSW) processing in Australia, compost marketing, and biofilter maintenance. The Delaware County, New York composting facility was toured, which processes about 29,000 tons/year of MSW, mixed with biosolids and industrial food processing wastes. From the tipping floor, MSW is loaded into a 157-foot long drum where it is retained for three days before being mixed with the other substrates. It is composted in IPS agitated bays; finished compost is marketed by WeCare Organics. The 2010 conference will be held at the Sevierville, Tennessee composting facility, which recently reopened after a fire destroyed much of the operation.
MANURE TRADER WEBSITE
The Pennsylvania Manure Trader (www.manuretrader.org) is a free online service offered by the PA Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), devoted to trading manure to help address serious pollution issues in an innovative way. The website was launched in August 2007. It is designed to facilitate trading of manure, as well as provide information on pertinent regulations and best management practices, and links and contacts to resources for assistance.
Pennsylvania has 55,000 farms, which produce over 4.4 million tons/year of manure. Act 38, legislation from 2005, required confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to develop nutrient management plans and limit the amount of manure land applied. It is estimated that over 1.75 million tons/year of manure will no longer be eligible for land application on the owner’s property under this regulation, which creates problems for many farmers, as well as opportunities.
Manure Trader helps farmers comply with Act 38 by finding alternatives to land applying manure on their land, and connects them with a marketplace of parties in need of manure. Environmental benefits include: improved watershed health; reduced stream pollution from excess nutrient runoff; potential to convert waste into a useful product; potential to convert biomass into clean energy, such as via anaerobic digestion (AD); and distribution of nutrients to deficient areas that would benefit from soil enhancements (either as fertilizer, or for reclamation of contaminated land).
College Park, Maryland
STUDENTS PARTNER WITH COMMUNITY TO BUILD BIORETENTION SYSTEM
Storm water runoff from the town of Edmonston, Maryland’s streets and parking lots flows into the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River, carrying with it pollutants that eventually make their way to the Chesapeake Bay. At the same time, the Anacostia “gives back” in the way of flash floods caused by overwhelming amounts of storm water coming from upstream communities. Recently, 24 students from the University of Maryland partnered with local agencies to develop a bioretention system at Tanglewood Park in Edmonston to collect storm water and filter it through plants and soil before it gets discharged into the Northeast Branch. This particular system was designed to naturally filter and treat runoff water from the park’s community center, parking lot and surrounding roadways. Almost 100 feet of pipe connects the bioretention site to a nearby stream that feeds the Anacostia – providing a drainage system for the large amount of water collected from the nearby hard surfaces, helping to alleviate the flooding issue. The soil mix used in the system was prepared by Farm Service, Inc. and comprised, by volume, 70 percent coarse sand, 25 percent topsoil (sandy loam), and 5 percent leaf compost.
The students are with the University’s A. James Clark School of Engineering’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an organization that usually sends engineering students abroad to design and build infrastructure projects in developing countries. That program is so popular that there are too many students to send them all abroad.
SSO DIVERSION FROM MULTIFAMILY BUILDINGS
The city of Hamilton started rolling out residential source separated organics collection in 2006, sending organics to its Central Composting Facility (CCF) in the industrial section of town. All 150,000 single-family residences are offered service (with a participation rate of about 80 percent), and Hamilton is now targeting approximately 60,000 multifamily units. It developed educational materials for residents of apartments and condominiums, as well as a handbook for superintendents. Residential waste diversion in 2008 was 44 percent, and the city has a target of reaching 65 percent diversion by 2011. An upcoming article will describe Hamilton’s CCF and the city’s organics programs in greater detail.
New York, New York
GREEN RESTAURANT GUIDE
A new Zagat guide to be published this month will feature 35 green restaurants in New York City. The guide is printed on 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper, and showcases eateries that are certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a nonprofit started in 1990. GRA’s certification is a point-based system, ranking food service establishments on seven criteria: Water Efficiency; Waste Reduction and Recycling; Sustainable Furnishings and Building Materials; Sustainable Food; Energy; Disposables; and Chemical and Pollution Reduction.
Under the new rating system, dubbed Green Restaurant 4.0, there are three possible rankings for certified restaurants: Two Stars (minimum of 100 points), Three Stars (minimum of 175 points) and Four Stars (“trailblazers” with a minimum of 470 points). Composting preconsumer organics garners 17.5 points, and composting postconsumer waste (including packaging) accounts for 7.5 points.
GRA certifies restaurants in three categories: New Builds, Existing Restaurants and Events. It also works with manufacturers, distributors and consumers. As part of its consumer outreach, it has a search engine for finding certified restaurants across the country. For more information, visit www.dinegreen.com.
Ithaca, New York
CORNELL CUTS WASTE STREAM IN HALF
Cornell University announced that it has cut its waste stream in half as a result of composting at its 8-acre facility. Operated by Cornell Farm Services, the composting facility is one mile away from campus, and composts up to 8,000 tons/year of organics from 57 waste streams. Last year the facility received 850 tons of food scraps and compostable utensils from 11 dining halls and food service locations, in addition to 3,300 tons of animal manure and bedding, and 300 tons of plant material and soil from greenhouses. The facility is largely self-funded, based on tip fees and compost sales.
Two student coordinators raise awareness about composting in all dining halls and campus food retail outlets, educating diners about separating trash from compostables and recyclables. The dining halls use pulping machines to reduce the volume of the waste before it is trucked to the composting facility, where it is mixed with other organics, and composted in 18-foot-wide by 7-foot-tall windrows. There are about 15 windrows on a 4-acre gravel pad, which is reinforced with an impervious geotextile fabric. The site produces up to 6,000 tons, or 4,000 cubic yards (cy), of compost annually, that is used around campus, and sold to local garden centers and vineyards for $15/cy.
ORGANIC RESIDUALS SYMPOSIUM
U.S. EPA Region 9, the California Integrated Waste Management Board and a host of other state and regional agencies and associations are sponsoring the Fourth Annual Pacific Southwest Organic Residuals Symposium, September 22-24, 2009 at the University of California, Davis. The first day includes a tour of the anaerobic digestion facility at the East Bay Municipal Utilities District in Oakland, which has been processing food waste and other organics with its biosolids. The Symposium is looking at ways to achieve greenhouse gas reductions, select and fund new technologies and coordinate cross-media regulations. More information can be found at www.epa.gov/region09/waste.
METROZOO COMPOSTS MANURE
The Miami Metrozoo began composting manure and green wastes in 2008. The zoo previously disposed of 5,600 cubic-yard (cy) of yard trimmings and 550 tons of manure annually. Five elephants at the zoo produce 1,400 pounds/day of waste. Herbivore manure is collected and transported via garbage truck to an empty lot at the entrance of the zoo, where Randall Pawlak, a horticultural specialist, mixes the material with hurricane debris, mulch by-products and plant foliage using a tractor. After about three months, the compost is used for landscaping at the zoo. Since the project began, the zoo has saved $10,000 to $15,000 in fertilizer costs, and $10,000 in topsoil, not to mention avoided cost at the landfill.