BioCycle February 2010, Vol. 51, No. 2, p. 6
Compost Connections To Battling Child Obesity
Childhood obesity in the U.S. has reached a point where one in three children are overweight or obese. On February 9th, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign (www.letsmove.gov), which provides programs and resources to teach and motivate children, parents, teachers and others to eat healthy foods and exercise. More than 31 million school children participate every day in the National School Lunch Program, plus more than 11 million participate daily in the National School Breakfast Program. Many children eat half of their daily calories at schools. Around the country, individual schools and increasing numbers of entire school districts are starting Farm-to-School programs to purchase locally grown foods, as well as planting edible gardens. An estimated 2,000 Farm-to-School programs operate around the country. And examples of edible schoolyard gardens abound, often complemented by an on-site composting program to capture food scraps from school lunches, and using the compost in the gardens.
During Obama’s Let’s Move launch event at the White House, Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had an opportunity to speak. Growing Power’s urban farm and food systems training center operates in an underserved area of Milwaukee (see “Composting And Local Food Merge At Urban Garden,” November 2008). “We have to institutionalize good food in our schools, and not only in the cafeteria but in our teaching every day,” said Allen. “We also need to be able to grow food year round where it’s needed, despite the climate, the way we are doing it at Growing Power. We need to scale up these efforts, growing good soil, growing good food, growing the relationships necessary to distribute and deliver this food to people.”
Digester Biogas Council Update
Last October at BioCycle’s 9th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling in Minneapolis, an evening meeting was held to discuss formation of an anaerobic digester (AD) industry coalition. A week later, at the Dairy Power Summit held in Syracuse, New York (organized by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy), one of the workgroups decided to move forward with formation of an agricultural biogas industry coalition. Starting in early January, regular conference calls were held among participants in both coalitions. Ultimately, it was decided to move forward with one AD biogas industry organization, called the American Biogas Council (ABC). An Interim Executive Steering Committee (IESC) comprised of individuals from the coalitions that emerged from the BioCycle conference and Dairy Power Summit was selected to quickly move forward with formalizing the organization. The seven members of the IESC are: Andrew Clinton (NorthEast Biogas), Nora Goldstein (BioCycle), Paul Greene (O’Brien & Gere), Shonodeep Modak (GE Energy), Nick Nelson (Midwest Biogas), Melissa VanOrnum (GHD) and Sara Williams/Adam Baldwin (BIOFerm).
Three committees – Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Membership and Fundraising and Education and Outreach – have been formed and are having conference calls in February to get organized. These committees will get off the ground while the formal structure for ABC is being created. Individuals interested in participating on a committee, or who would like additional information on the American Biogas Council, can contact Sara Williams at BIOFerm or Nora Goldstein at BioCycle.
On Monday, April 12, 2010, ABC will hold an evening reception during the BioCycle West Coast Conference in San Diego (April 12-15, 2010) at the Town & Country Resort Hotel. The reception will be at the Town & Country. Another reception is being planned at the AgSTAR Conference, April 27-28, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. More details on both events – which will provide opportunities to learn more about ABC and get involved -will be announced shortly on www.BioCycleWestCoast.com.
Residential Organics Diversion Report
A new report, Beyond Recycling: Composting Food Scraps and Soiled Paper, examines data from 121 residential organics programs (ROP) in the United States and Canada. Written by Peter Anderson from the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry with Gary Liss & Associates and Steven Sherman and partially funded by USEPA Region 9, the study utilized a survey, site visits and interviews to conduct its research. The findings complement a comprehensive survey of residential food waste composting in the U.S. conducted by BioCycle in the fall of 2009 (see “U.S. Residential Food Waste Collection And Composting,” December 2009). Beyond Recycling focuses on the economics of various options for organics collection and processing, the connections among the various program components, operational implications of the volume of material and categories of organics that are collected, and changes needed to increase composting capacity in communities across North America.
Survey findings include: About a third of the 121 programs responding collected food scraps separately; the rest collected food with yard trimmings, and the latter were generally in climates where yard trimmings are generated and collected year round. Few communities banned organics from trash; more banned them from landfills; three banned plastic bags to collect organics. The largest number of respondents indicated that organics are collected separately, on a weekly basis and not collected on the same truck with other materials in different compartments. The largest number of ROPs also included paper, food scraps and yard trimmings together. Total cost of trash, recyclables and organics programs ranges from $11 to $33/household (HH)/month, with an average of $22/HH/month. Tipping fees for organics processing varies from $15 to $90/ton and averages $44/ ton. (The range of tipping fees for landfilling varies from $16 to $115/ton and averages $61/ton.)
A key finding of the study is that if, in addition to recycling, all putrescibles are collected (often including pet waste and diapers), the residual rubbish collection can be reduced to once every two weeks or even once a month. The costs saved from less frequent rubbish collection could offset the additional costs of processing the extra categories of organics. This approach also increases diversion of organics because residents are motivated to put organics in the appropriate container to avoid holding on to them until the next trash pick-up. Beyond Recycling can be downloaded at www.beyondrecycling.org.
Compost Awareness Week
International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW), May 2-8, 2010, is celebrated around the globe. The Compost Council of Canada’s theme is “S.O.S – Save Our Soils … Compost!” (see Canada Composts’ column on page 37). The U.S. Composting Council’s (USCC) theme for ICAW is “Compost! … Recycling for a Greener Tomorrow.” The USCC is sponsoring a poster contest with entries due by February 28th. For more details, visit www.compostingcouncil.org.
Soil Health, Composting Conferences
A one-day conference devoted to soil health is being held on March 9th at the Burlington County College campus in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. The goal of the conference is to improve understanding of soil health connections to storm water runoff impacts, climate change and soil ecosystem services, stream erosion and impacts on aquatic environments and the quality and quantity of groundwater. Registration details: www.sjrcd.org/soilhealth.
The Ohio State University (OSU) is hosting a two-day intensive course for large-scale composting facility operators on March 30-31 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. Day one of the training covers principles and biology, raw materials mixing, site design and management and laboratory exercises, including sampling and testing, effect of turning, compost properties, fan efficiency and optimizing mix ratios. Day two covers odor management, compost stability, compost economics and marketing and regulations. More information is available at oardc.osu.edu/ocamm.
In Kansas, “2010 Works!” is scheduled for March 23-25 in Junction City. Sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the conference covers recycling, composting and waste reduction. Composting training courses are offered on March 23rd. For details, visit www.kdheks.gov/waste/works10.html. Two statewide composting and organics recycling conferences are being held in early April. The Composting Association of Vermont’s Organics Recycling Summit (VORS) is April 1, 2010 in Randolph (www.compostingvermont.org). In Massachusetts, the 10th Annual Organics Recycling Conference with the theme, Local Energy Takes Root, will be on April 6 in Westboro (www.massrecycle.org/conference).
Finally, Rhonda Sherman of North Carolina State University has announced the 10th Annual Vermiculture Conference, May 27-28, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina. This year’s event will showcase the latest research on the effects of vermicompost and tea on plant growth and disease suppression, how growers are effectively marketing earthworms and vermicompost, and the different technologies utilized. The preliminary agenda and registration information are available at www.bae.ncsu.edu/ workshops/worm-conference.
Earth 911 Reports Top Items Recycled In 2009
Earth911.com, which tracks recycling from over 117,000 locations around the country, released the results of its 2009 Annual Recycling Report. Topping the list were electronics – computers, batteries and televisions. “Electronics have always been popular searches on Earth911.com but with the increased attention these devices have received, this past year was our highest yet,” said Corey Lambrecht, president of Earth911. The other items on the top 10 list are paint, aluminum cans, used motor oil, compact fluorescents (CFLs), glass, fluorescent lamps and Christmas trees.