Editorial: The BioCycle Difference

BioCycle February 2010, Vol. 51, No. 2, p. 4

Nora Goldstein


WE ARE not even six weeks into 2010 and the composting, organics recycling and anaerobic digestion world has already seen more action than all of 2009 (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration). As you’ll read on page 6, there is a newly formed American Biogas Council. And then, the Frito-Lay launch of the SunChips 100-percent compostable bag. We saw their presentation at a composting conference, but you know it’s official when there is a full-page coupon in the Sunday newspaper with nthe largest type on the page reading: “The World’s First 100% Compostable Bag.”

Composters in several states had to hit the ground running in 2010 to fight back against legislation repealing the yard waste bans in their states. Georgia appears to be in the biggest battle at the moment, followed closely by Michigan, Missouri and Florida. The solid waste companies clamoring for the repeal are doing it in the name of “green” energy but with the miniscule amount of biogas generated from yard waste, it’s hard not to see this as a play for tipping fees, especially when there are fewer tons of garbage going to landfills due to the economy.

Also in the last six weeks, Harvest Power, a fairly new player in the organics recycling arena, announced that Waste Management, Inc. invested in its company “to expand next generation organics recycling facilities across the United States and Canada.” Said Tim Cesarek, managing director of Organic Growth at Waste Management: “Combining Waste Management’s industry leadership and expertise in the collection and management of a wide range of segmented waste streams with Harvest’s leading technologies and industry knowledge will be key to developing new, high value-added end markets for organic materials and accelerating the growth of organics recycling across North America.”

Should we be excited or skeptical? Has Waste Management joined forces with the composters and organics recyclers to develop high value-added markets for organic materials? Did they announce construction of food waste composting and anaerobic digestion facilities in all of the nation’s metropolitan areas? So far, we’ve mostly seen Waste Management extolling the greenness of its energy from organics in the landfill, not out.

In a presentation during the plenary at last month’s U.S. Composting Council conference, I made a point of saying that the composting and organics recycling industry must take a stand on keeping valuable organic waste streams out of the landfill. “There is no muddle ground. This is black and white.” Later that day, in a special session on the yard waste landfill bans, there was a lot of muddling about taking a stand against putting organics in the landfill. After two hours, there was way more gray (aka muddle) than black and white.

And herein lies the BioCycle difference. We don’t see any gray. There isn’t time for muddling. Every free moment needs to be spent getting our message out to city councils and smart growth planners. To teachers, our youth, legislators and newspaper, radio and TV reporters. And let’s make sure that when Frito-Lay spends millions of dollars to advertise their compostable chip bags that they also tell the world that “compostable” means these bags will be composted, and composting begets compost which is truly green.

And experience the BioCycle difference in person. Join us at BioCycle’s 25th Annual West Coast Conference in April, where you will become excited and energized by new ideas and strategies and encounter passionate speakers and fellow participants who are not only in the black, but live and breathe the green.

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