BioCycle March 2010, Vol. 51, No. 3, p. 6
Compostable Cup For Quick Service Chain
Burgerville, a chain of quick service restaurants known for its commitment to sustainability, recently launched its compostable ecotainer® soft drink cups and lids, in cooperation with International Paper and The Coca-Cola Company. The compostable cup represents the last major component of Burgerville’s packaging to go compostable. “With the launch of the ecotainer®, almost all of Burgerville’s packaging has been converted to components made from plant-based, renewable resources that can be commercially composted or recycled, which is making a significant impact on our work to reduce our environmental footprint,” says Alison Dennis, Burgerville’s director of supply chain. “Our restaurants are hearing great feedback from our guests about the new compostable cups and how our composting and recycling program is making a positive difference in the communities we serve.”
Burgerville, based in Vancouver, Washington with locations in the Pacific Northwest, began composting, recycling and using sustainable packaging in their restaurants in early 2007 (see “Quick Service Food Chain Pushes The Sustainability Envelope,” December 2007). Today, 37 Burgerville locations with access to commercial services are composting and/or recycling, and 21 locations have dining room solutions where guests have the option to sort their waste, or where team members sort waste collected from tables. Prior to the new compostable cup launch, Burgerville was more than 50 percent of the way toward the ultimate 85 percent diversion goal. After the compostable cup program is fully introduced, Burgerville will be conducting a full waste audit in 2010 to benchmark its progress. To learn more, go to www.burgerville.com.
Organization Of Recycling Organizations
RONA, Recycling Organizations of North America, is “young, vibrant and ready to offer support to organizations, universities, trade groups and businesses throughout North America,” says a recent announcement. “We plan to form coalitions with affiliated and likeminded organizations on an issue by issue basis to influence policy makers at both the local and national level,” says Marjorie Griek of RONA. Services include assistance to recycling organization executives, such as board and nonprofit management, a speakers’ bureau and tracking of jobs in recycling. RONA-U is the collegiate group, explains Griek, tasked by RONA to “better connect higher education and the recycling industry.” RONA-U’s services will include a training center, job board and discounts to publications and equipment. For more information, visit www.recyclingorganizations.org.
German Biogas Fair
The 19th Annual German Biogas Federation Conference and Trade Fair in Leipzig, Germany in February attracted over 3,500 registrants and 285 exhibitors from 10 countries that provide materials and services on all aspects of the ever expanding European renewable biogas industry. As of the beginning of 2010, the German Biogas Association (GBA) said total output of some 1,650 megawatts from the existing 4,500 biogas plants in the country cover the annual electricity needs of 3.8 million average households. “On the one hand, small plants up to 190 kW are experiencing a renaissance due to the slurry bonus, and on the other, megawatt plants are being built that inject their processed biomethane directly into the natural gas grid,” says Josef Pellmeyer, GBA president. More than 90 percent of the biogas plants in Germany operate with agricultural substrates. An estimated 500 to 800 units are expected to be constructed in Germany in 2010. The 2009 amendment to the legislation offers incentives under certain conditions if the energy source for the biogas plant is at least 30 percent slurry (manure).
Reflecting the use of growing energy crops for anaerobic digestion, equipment and material suppliers at the trade fair included seed suppliers, harvesters, silage bag packers, front end loaders to move silage and bins to mix silage. There also were chicken manure suppliers, pump and valves, concrete and steel tank fabricator/installers, mixers, gas holders, heating systems, gas pumpers and purifiers, technology providers, system monitoring systems, testing equipment and services. Government incentive programs continue to provide the economic impetus to enter into and develop energy sources.
Environmental Data On Southern U.S. Forests
A new online system that maps environmental data on southern forests in the U.S. onto satellite images from the past 35 years was launched by the World Resources Institute (WRI). The system, located at SeeSouthernForests.org, highlights risks to forests such as pest and pathogen outbreaks, active wildfires, potential climate change impacts and forest conversion to suburban development – the leading cause of southern U.S. forest loss in recent decades. The system is the first step in a multiyear WRI project, Southern Forests for the Future, aimed at helping landowners, conservation organizations and others ensure the ability of these forests to continue providing a range of benefits – called ecosystem services – to people. These services include watershed protection, carbon storage and recreation.
Stretching from Texas to Virginia and from Kentucky to Florida, the southern U.S. forests are among the world’s most biologically diverse temperate forests, explains WRI, noting that they underpin hundreds of thousands of jobs and produce more pulp for paper by volume than any single nation – other than the entire U.S. “A lot of focus in global climate change discussions to date has been on tropical rainforests, but U.S. forests are important too,” says Susan Minnemeyer of WRI. “When domestic forest acreage declines, the nation’s carbon sink shrinks.”
Zero Waste Journey Starts At The Source
Eric Lombardi, Executive Director of EcoCycle in Boulder, Colorado, journeyed to Key West in late January to speak to city officials about zero waste. The recycling rate in this city of about 25,000 people is under 10 percent. In February 2009, a mandatory residential recycling ordinance was adopted, but never implemented. Lombardi emphasized that the zero waste journey must begin with programs for residents and business to source separate their waste into three streams: composting, recycling and trash. He provided the City Commission with a 10-year “bridge strategy” to develop the physical and regulatory infrastructure necessary to achieve zero waste. The five requisite facilities for resource recovery are a MRF, Composting, CHaRM (Center for Hard To Recycle Materials), C&D, and Reuse/Repair. “The toughest job is to create human behavior change and get all discards sorted at the source into recycling, composting and ‘whatever’s left,'” he told the city commissioners. “You need to get going on those. There’s no point on educating your community and passing regulations if there’s no other place for the stuff to go than the landfill or the incinerator.”
Ultimately, local communities can get to 90 percent recovery, after which they can select the best way to achieve the final 10 percent. Lombardi outlined interim goals along the way, at 50 and 70 percent. “For 50 percent recovery, you need universal curbside recycling and composting collections, yard waste drop-off centers; pay-as-you-throw pricing structure – the single largest incentive to increase recycling; minimum 25 percent C&D recovery; incorporate recycling requirements and deconstruction into green building codes; and education. Key strategies to reach 70 percent are mandatory recycling and composting at all homes and businesses; reduce trash service frequency to every other week with weekly organics collection; finish building the local Zero Waste Infrastructure (requisite facilities outlined above); minimum 50 percent C&D recovery; deposit system on building permits; and lots of education.”
According to an article in the Keynoter, City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said he supports gradually working toward a zero-waste goal and wants to get a consultant for the city to examine waste management needs. “I think it’s realistic for us to be able to gradually achieve a goal of zero waste or even 90 percent,” he explained. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’ve got to take the first step.” Noted Commissioner Teri Johnston: “We need to bring our mandatory recycling ordinance up and on the table, and include commercial recycling and pay-as-you-throw.”
Green Teams For A Compostable Campus
Everywhere around Sonoma County, California groups of students are coming together calling themselves “Green Teams.” Their mission: no less than to transform their campuses and communities into sustainable systems. Jessica Jones, a school and vermicomposting adviser based in Rohnert Park, California, provides this summary of several programs:
At Summerfield Waldorf School and farm in Santa Rosa, an innovative composting program includes utilizing wine barrels for collecting students’ food scraps and high school students building compost piles as well as learning the science behind (and inside) them. Going one step further, the school decided to utilize vermicomposting to process the waste paper towels following research by Jones that showed red worms (Eisenia Fetida) could be utilized to break down the towel waste while producing worm castings for use in the garden beds around campus. A $60 donation from a local hardware store covered the necessary supplies to build a worm bin. A curriculum was developed with help from the school groundskeeper. For two hours a week in a four-week block, students learned both how to put a worm bin together and how it worked. Now in place, the Summerfield worm bin takes all the paper towel waste along with some of the food waste generated by the high school students as well as horse manure from the draft horses that work on the school farm. The project is managed by Summerfield’s Green Team. For a video, go to http://vimeo.com/8677145.
At Rio Lindo Academy in Healdsburg, a Green Team initiative includes successful recycling with a composting program in the works, targeting one ton/month of campus food waste. The plan is to create a holding box where students who work in the kitchen throw compostable food waste; it will be retrieved by Green Team members for composting, At El Molino High School in Forestville, students also have formed a Green Team and are looking to bring an organic waste recycling program to their campus. They plan to start with the basics, building an outdoor compost pile as part of the agricultural curriculum.