BioCycle September 2009, Vol. 50, No. 9, p. 6
National Recycling Council Declares Bankruptcy
After a membership vote on the proposed combination of the National Recycling Council (NRC) and Keep America Beautiful, Inc. (KAB) fell short of the two-thirds majority required, the NRC Board announced that the organization will declare bankruptcy. The Board had asked the membership to support the merger in order to continue the recycling mission of NRC, but of the 46 percent of the membership that voted on the proposal, only 57 percent were in favor. “The decision was a very difficult and troubling one, but in the end, as a matter of our fiduciary responsibility, the Board was left with very few options given the organization’s cash position,” says Melinda Uerling, NRC Board President. “Our hope – however distant right now – is that a stronger organization, with broad representation, may emerge from within our community.” Founded in 1978, the NRC was the largest national nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement and improvement of recycling, waste prevention, composting and reuse.
Consumer Industry Companies Vulnerable To Natural Resources Scarcity
According to a new report, “Sustainability for Tomorrow’s Consumer,” published by the World Economic Forum, scarcity of natural resources will leave the consumer industry exposed to higher and more volatile pricing in little more than a decade. By 2020 it is estimated that there will be one billion more consumers worldwide, resulting in a fundamental consumption imbalance with demand for natural resources outstripping supply. “Unless businesses can rapidly redesign value chains to reduce resource use and decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, their ability to help economies grow, provide consistent shareholder returns and meet the needs of consumers will be threatened,” notes the report, published in collaboration with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
“Resource scarcity will be a common problem in the near future,” says Peter Capozucca, consumer business leader for Deloitte’s Enterprise Sustainability group in the U.S. “This will lead to both higher and more volatile pricing for essential resources such as energy and water. For resource intensive businesses this will hit the bottom line unless companies shift towards a sustainable business model that is more efficient and less demanding of resources.”
Among the report’s recommendations is closing the loop on natural resources: “The traditional linear supply chain model – build, buy, bury – needs to be replaced with a model which enables resources to go full circle. Activities at every stage along the chain of sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and end-of-life will need to be revisited for optimization of resource utilization.” As noted in the Editorial of this issue of BioCycle, the findings of this report, issued by an organization that represents global business leaders, is a rallying cry for the solutions BioCycle and its readers have been championing for 50 years.
Biogas Industry Coalition
An evening session on Monday, October 19th at BioCycle’s upcoming 9th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling will feature a Roundtable discussion about the possible formation of a Biogas Industry Coalition. Interest in the U.S. is growing rapidly in anaerobic digestion (AD) for treatment of a wide range of municipal, agricultural and industrial organic waste and wastewater streams, expanding beyond the more traditional application of AD technologies for livestock manure and wastewater treatment plant solids. States are evaluating options for regulating these facilities, such as codigestion of manure and food waste, and there are the continual challenges related to markets for the generated power and conditioned biogas. BioCycle readers and colleagues have expressed interest in creation of a clearinghouse of information on projects, technologies, research, permitting and regulations, grants and financing/tax incentives, power purchase agreements, conversion to vehicle fuels and much more. Our evening session, Creating A Biogas Industry Coalition – Is Now The Time?, will explore development of a clearinghouse, as well as related opportunities needed to advance AD in the U.S. Please send any suggestions, comments and topics for discussion to email@example.com.
Composting Council Advocates Carbon Offsets In Climate Change Bill
The U.S. Composting Council (USCC) has launched a grassroots education and outreach campaign in Washington, D.C. to advance the industry’s effectiveness and viability and to improve the climate change legislation in Congress to benefit all organics recyclers.
The current writing of the legislation does not allow organics recyclers to receive carbon offsets (carbon credits) in the proposed cap-and-trade program. “Convincing the U.S. Senate to improve the language in its version of the climate change bill will give our industry a more level playing field,” says Stuart Buckner, Executive Director. “The USCC is encouraging inclusion of composting and municipal anaerobic digestion as eligible carbon offset project types, and educating Senators on the impact of landfill performance standards on the organics recycling industry.” The Senate version is still being drafted, and will have to go through several committees this fall. The Council is advocating the following points:
• A market-based approach to climate change regulation provides flexible incentives for achieving large and sustainable reductions in landfill methane emissions.
• The currently proposed “performance standard” for reducing landfill methane emissions inadvertently discourages diversion of methane-producing wastes from landfills, ultimately leading to an overall increase in landfill methane emissions.
• Market-based carbon offset incentives for landfill methane avoidance projects provide a more flexible, sustainable and cost-effective mechanism for reducing landfill methane emissions, while returning carbon to the soil.
• Include composting and municipal anaerobic digestion as eligible offset project types.
“Our campaign is educating Congress that ensuring performance standards for landfill gas emissions do not preclude offset credits for composting projects,” explains Buckner. “Help in getting this message across is essential to our efforts and the industry’s future.” To become involved, log on to www.compostingcouncil.org, or contact Cary Oshins at firstname.lastname@example.org; (484) 547-1521.
University Captures Biogas From Wastewater
EARTH University in Guácimo, Costa Rica recently installed a new 52 m3 digester, collecting wastewater from the school’s cafeteria, two student dorms, two laboratories and the academic administration buildings. The digester produces approximately 30 m3/day of biogas, used to fuel three burners in the cafeteria. This has resulted in a reduction of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumption by about 15 percent, or a savings of over $2,750/year.
Including the new installation, EARTH University has five digesters on its campus, which are an integral part of the school’s mission to contribute to sustainable development in Latin America and other tropical regions. The University is a private, international nonprofit offering an undergraduate program in the agricultural sciences and rational use of natural resources. For details, visit www.earth.ac.cr.
A file substitution error in the August issue of BioCycle created a problem in the article “Source Separation Trends In UK” with a repetition on page 39, and missing text on page 40. The correct version of the article is available as a free downloadable pdf on the BioCycle website (www.biocycle.net), or if you’d prefer we can fax you a copy. Call 610-967-4135, ext. 21.
Compost Workshop Presentations Available Online
The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) offered a series of 10 workshops on compost use in 2008 and 2009 (the last to be completed in November 2009). The workshops featured practical tools and information on using compost for erosion control and revegetation, including topics such as: benefits of compost for roadside and landscape applications; compost biology and core principles; reducing disposal by increasing compost use; cost savings through compost use; implementing Caltrans compost-based specs on a municipal level; and developing model ordinances and purchasing policies for compost use.
The presentations, workshop videos and other materials are now available for free online. Workshop attendees also received two handouts that are available for download: “Compost Use For Landscape and Environmental Enhancement Manual,” by Dr. David Crohn, and “Compost Specifications Booklet,” developed by R. Alexander Associates, Inc. Visit www.ciwmb.ca.gov/organics/erosion/workshops/2008 for more info, and to download the presentations.
European Union On Pace To Meet Kyoto GHG Targets
On August 31, the European Environment Agency (EEA) announced that the European Union’s (EU) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions declined for the fourth straight year. Fewer GHG emissions were primarily due to the global recession and the tightening of the cap in the EU’s cap-and-trade program, the Emissions Trading Scheme. “These provisional figures are a further confirmation that the EU is well on track to reach its Kyoto target, even if one should recognize that part of the reduction in emissions is due to the economic slowdown,” notes EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. “This is a timely message to the rest of the world in the run up to the Copenhagen climate conference in December.” These 2008 emission estimates will be used to better track progress towards EU targets in the annual EEA report on greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe, which will be published later this year.
Urban Gardens Important For Bee Populations
Results from a 3-year survey of bee pollinators in 7 cities in California indicate that many types of urban gardens provide floral and nesting resources for the reproduction and survival of bees, especially a diversity of native bees. The study, reported in the July-September 2009 issue of California Agriculture, was conducted by a research group at University of California (UC) Berkley and UC Davis, and is part of a larger effort to conserve and protect native pollinators, which are declining worldwide. Although many urban gardens include a high percentage of nonnative ornamental plants, the study found that a great variety of the state’s 1,600 species of native bees visit them. Habitat gardening for bees with targeted plants could increase bee diversity and abundance, providing pollination benefits.
Scientific Study Of Massive Ocean Garbage Patch
A group of scientists sailed from San Francisco in August on Project Kaisei, a mission to investigate the effects of a sizeable patch of marine debris on the environment, and establish the best ways to clean it up. The trip was organized by the Ocean Voyages Institute in Sausalito, California. The garbage patch has been estimated to be about the size of Texas, and is located about 1,000 miles off the coastline in the North Pacific Gyre, a whirlpool of four ocean currents traveling in clockwise direction. Part of the mission is to grasp the size of the vortex. Debris has already been found as close as 300 miles from the coastline, and as deep as 200 meters (656 feet) in the water. Photos and videos from the voyage will be updated daily at www.projectkaisei.org.
$13 Million In USDA Grants And Loans For Renewable Energy
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $13 million in loans and grants for 233 renewable energy projects in 38 states under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies and energy audits are eligible.
One recipient is Terrydale Farms, Inc., in Charleston, Illinois, which will receive a $20,000 grant to install a new grain dryer that automatically adjusts the burner temperature to produce evenly dried grain in a shorter period of time. The system is expected to reduce energy consumption by nearly 37 percent annually – and lower the annual energy bill by more than $8,500.
In Story City, Iowa, Milford Wind Energy, LLC, will receive a $1.8 million guaranteed loan and a $500,000 grant to build a 900-kilowatt wind turbine. When complete, the turbine is expected to generate nearly 3.3 million kilowatts of electricity annually – worth more than $200,000 – that will be sold to the local utility company. Construction of the turbine is expected to be completed next year.
For more information on the REAP program, which is authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/farmbill.