BioCycle November 2010, Vol. 51, No. 11, p. 6
BioCycle Global 2011 Call For Papers
BioCycle Global 2011, our International Conference on Composting, Organics Recycling and Renewable Energy, will be held April 11-14, 2011 at the Town and Country Resort Hotel in San Diego. The Call for Papers is open until December 30, 2010. Themes of BioCycle Global 2011 include: Integrated materials and organics recycling to maximize diversion and capture/reuse of resources; Composting and compost utilization; Anaerobic digestion of municipal, agricultural and industrial organic waste streams; Biogas conditioning and markets; Facility management, including odor and emissions control, product quality and profitability; Local food systems integrated into organics recycling and sustainable agriculture; Green infrastructure; Biosolids recycling and composting; Current research; and Public policies and regulations that incentivize composting, organics recycling and renewable energy, stimulate markets and job creation, and sustain enterprises and communities. Papers providing case studies – models from around the world of cities, towns, regions and countries that have successfully integrated durable, permanent sustainability into resource management (e.g., reducing climate impacts, conserving water, building productive soils, generating renewable energy, etc.) – are encouraged. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words. The on-line abstract submission form is at www.biocycleglobal.com.
Study Finds Biosolids Safe For Agricultural Use
A 19-year University of Arizona study has concluded that biosolids, the end product of municipally treated wastewater, are generally free of any pathogenic organisms that might harm humans or the environment. A report published online in the Journal of Environmental Quality and titled “Pathogens in Biosolids: Are They Safe?” states that properly treated biosolids pose little if any health risk to the public. Ian L. Pepper, PhD, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Water and Environmental Technology (WET) Center and a professor of soil, water and environmental science (SWES) at the university, led the almost two-decades long study tracking pathogens in biosolids from the wastewater stream in Tucson, Arizona. Analysis also included data from 18 other wastewater treatment plants across the country. Coauthors include SWES professor Charles P. Gerba as well as researchers from the USDA, Loma Linda University and Drexel University.
The study is the first of its kind since current federal regulations – specifically the Environmental Protection Agency’s Part 503 Rule governing how wastewater is treated in order to maintain public and environmental safety – went into effect in 1993. Biosolids are regulated in two categories, Class A and Class B. Both use a combination of processes to destroy pathogens including heating, composting, anaerobic digestion or changing pH levels. Class A biosolids have been treated to the point where pathogens are undetectable and there are no restrictions on their use as fertilizer. Class B biosolids have small but measurable levels of bacteria and come with restrictions on how they can be used on crop plants, for grazing livestock and with regard to human exposure. Pepper said one big question has been what kind and how many human pathogens are found in Class B biosolids. The study analyzed data prior to and after 1993, when Part 503 took effect, to determine the impact of the regulations. The data revealed concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria and viruses to be lower than 1993 levels. The research also showed that between 94 and 99 percent of pathogens are eliminated by wastewater treatment. “The fact that pathogen levels are lower now than in the 1980s shows that the Part 503 Rule has been effective in reducing public exposure to pathogens relative to 25 years ago,” Pepper said. The study also suggests that levels of some intestinal viruses – such as the bacteria Salmonella and Ascaris ova (roundworm eggs) – are lower in Class B biosolids treated by anaerobic digestion. Pepper and his colleagues also found no Campylobacter or E. coli bacteria in their tests. Other studies have suggested that Class B biosolids are treated further simply by exposure to sunlight, wind, heat and soil microbes after land application.
New Curbside And Commercial Organics Recycling Projects
Water Valley, a resort-style residence community in Windsor, Colorado, is the first in the state to pilot a residential curbside collection program for organic materials. Launched by Ft. Collins-based Clean Air Compost, community residents were provided 65-gallon compost containers to be picked up once a week and charged $20 a month for the service, according to the Windsor Beacon. Accepted materials include dairy, meat, pet waste, paper, cardboard, wrapping paper and other organic materials. Water Valley’s developer endorsed the pilot program by paying for the first month of service to the first 100 residents who signed on.
In Bend, Oregon, commercial customers now have the opportunity to compost their organic recyclables through Deschutes Recycling, only the second facility in the state to receive a permit to compost food waste. The pilot program represents a partnership between St. Charles Health Systems, Bend Garbage & Recycling and Deschutes Recycling. “Food waste is a significant amount of the waste stream and we are excited to be able to recycle it and offer collection services to our commercial customers,” Brad Bailey, president of Bend Garbage, stated in a press release. Adds Timm Schimke, Deschutes County Solid Waste Director: “The Department of Solid Waste is pleased to have our composting facility permit renewed under the new DEQ composting rules. Due to environmental factors such as low annual precipitation and depth to groundwater, our facility has been determined to be low risk for potential environmental and operational problems. This has given us the ability to consider additions to the compost operations such as food waste.”
EPA, USDA Talk AD, Conservation In California’s Salad Bowl
High-ranking U.S. Department of Agriculture and US EPA officials visited the Central Valley this fall to highlight plans to bolster resource conservation projects on farmland, reports the Capital Press. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe visited wildlife corridors, an on-farm anaerobic digester and a farm utilizing emissions-control technology. The duo couched the trip as a vehicle for generating ideas to help farmers employ technologies and farming practices that reduce carbon emissions, conserve energy and protect wildlife while also generating profits, the agricultural news service reported. They also highlighted the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Perciasepe said his agency will contribute funding toward standardizing regulations for on-farm methane digesters. Lacking standardization and facing stringent rules imposed by local air pollution control districts, they said, dairy owners and digester developers have encountered laborious permitting processes that take 18 months and run up huge costs. “We understand the realities that farmers face, and we’ve got to juxtapose those with the realities in Congress and figure these things out,” Deputy Secretary Merrigan was quoted as saying.
Sodexo Aims To Cut Food Waste
This September, institutional food vendor Sodexo launched its “Stop Wasting Food” campaign with the goal of getting students to cut food waste in order to curb climate change. A company press release pointed out that Americans throw away 25 percent of all food they prepare each year, leading to 31 million tons of waste mostly going to landfill and producing methane. “We are so careful to source and serve food for our customers in a sustainable way, but if locally-sourced food ends up in a landfill then we’re simply creating another environmental problem,” said Tom Post, Sodexo’s president of campus services. As part of the campaign, Sodexo is asking students to take two simple steps: to only take what they plan to eat in all-you-care-to-eat dining halls, and to come back for more if they are still hungry. Sodexo initiated a pilot program this fall at eight college campuses across the country to analyze and measure kitchen waste to better manage the problem. Another waste reduction strategy is going trayless in the dining halls. On Earth Day 2008, Sodexo called on all of its college accounts to give up trays, a move the company says reduced waste by 30 percent on average. To date, about 340 Sodexo-served campuses have stopped using trays permanently.
And while on the topic of wasted food, a new book by Jonathan Bloom – American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It) – notes that individual Americans throw away 197 pounds of food a year. Collectively, that is over 100 billion pounds, says Bloom. His book discusses the food waste “epidemic” and provides practical tips on reducing what gets wasted.