BioCycle December 2010, Vol. 51, No. 12, p. 49
St. Petersburg, Russia
FROM RUSSIA, WITH FEATHERS
In mid-2009, BACKHUS EcoEngineers was approached by Roskar, one of the biggest egg and broiler producers in the northwestern part of Russia, about options for managing the chicken litter. About 400 tons/week of nitrogen-rich manure is collected at Roskar’s production facility in the region of St. Petersburg. New regulations in Russia prohibit egg and broiler producers from applying raw chicken manure onto agricultural land, and Roskar was investigating its alternatives, ultimately deciding to go with open windrow composting. Following a subsequent site visit to a German composting facility, the company decided to purchase a BACKHUS 17.50 windrow turner. The machine was delivered in early January 2010 during the coldest days of winter when night time temperatures dipped below -30°F, presenting some startup challenges. A composting specialist was hired to train operators on the process. It was discovered that the different kinds of litter from layer, chicken and broiler production offered a good mixture with the right moisture content but with a relatively low C:N ratio. Additional carbon inputs were required. After several trials, the right mixture was found, and the frequency of turning was adjusted to accommodate the new recipe.
UK, Australia & US
WASTED FOOD, WASTED ENERGY ACROSS THE PLANET
According to a recent report published by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), more than a pound of food is thrown away every time someone eats out in the United Kingdom. This amounts to more than 600,000 tons of food waste annually or 22 tons, on average, per eating establishment. The report points to two major culprits: overly sized portions reminiscent of U.S. fare and waste in the kitchen that gets tossed out during food preparation. The report also reveals that British households throw away 12 million tons of food every year at a cost to the economy of more than $19 billion. Manufacturers waste another 5 million tons, with the entire catering industry – including pubs and catering facilities in offices and sports venues – throwing away another 3 million tons. Retailers are responsible for another 1.4 tons of food waste annually.
Down Under in Australia, the Willoughby City Council has joined forces with the Government of New South Wales’ (NSW) Love Food Hate Waste Program to tackle the issue. NSW residents produce 800,000 tons of food waste annually, equal to about $2.5 billion or $1,000/household. Workshops to curb food waste will focus on better meal planning, shopping with a list in hand (versus compulsive shopping) and how to utilize leftovers. “Throwing away food wastes the energy, water and natural resources used to grow, package, transport and market that food,” says Lisa Corbyn, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW Director General.
And across the pond in the U.S., the same connection between wasted food and wasted energy is being made as analysts point out that the U.S. consumes more energy in food it throws away than some countries consume in total all year. A study first published on the web July 21 in Environmental Science & Technology calculated the imbedded energy in food production from agriculture, transportation, processing, food sales, storage and preparation for 2007 at 8080 ± 760 trillion BTU. With the U.S. throwing away approximately 25 percent of its food, the wasted energy is about 2 percent of total annual national energy consumption, according to the study.
CONFRONTING ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES THROUGH COMPOSTING
Historically, municipal solid waste in the Tyre region was dumped in the Ras El Ain region beside a main irrigation channel. After evaluating alternatives to reducing this unregulated practice and its associated environmental and health risks, the Union of the Municipalities of Tyre decided to install a composting facility to process up to 150 tons/day of MSW. Mostly household wastes generated by more than 40 villages with about 300,000 combined residents will be composted in an enclosed in-vessel, agitated, aerated and automated process that also includes a biofilter for odor control. The IPS Composting System (Siemens Water Technologies, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts) was selected for its ability to produce the highest quality compost from a widely variable and contaminated waste stream in an efficient time frame. The facility – with capacity to process 46,800 tons/year of MSW- was scheduled to be online by the end of 2010, but difficulties finding an adequate site for landfilling rejects has postponed the startup date. The plant was designed and equipped by Grossimex sarl Environmental Control Systems of Lebanon, and incorporates ten 2-meter-wide bays for processing incoming MSW and green waste.
TACKLING A MOUNTING TRASH PROBLEM
With both the world’s fastest growing economy and population, China surpassed the United States mid-decade as the largest producer of waste – about 190 million tons/year. The country and its provinces are meeting these challenges via a number of strategies, including subsidized residential waste collection, composting, anaerobic digestion, incineration and an informal but elaborate recycling model dependent on a network of “scavengers” and middlemen who sort, clean, bale and sell the materials back to China’s robust manufacturing sector.
In 2008, Guangzhou – the country’s third largest city with a population of 10 million – was generating over 8,000 tons/day of solid waste. An upcoming article in BioCycle Global by Martin Medina highlights the specific waste management programs in Guangzhou, which include over 100,000 scavengers who collect recyclables from the streets and buy source separated materials from residents. In turn, the scavengers sell the recyclables to about 2,000 brokers located in warehouses scattered throughout Guangzhou. In 2007, the city began operating a composting facility with the capacity to process 1,000 metric tons/day.
RESIDENTIAL FOOD WASTE RECYCLING
As many as 20,000 households in Edinburgh, the capital and second largest city in Scotland, will be provided with sealed and lockable boxes in order to collect food waste for composting. According to a BBC News report, a pilot project aims to test a variety of household types and could expand to all the city’s 250,000 households if all goes well. As part of the program, plastic bottles also will be collected curbside for recycling. Currently about 50,000 tons of food waste are thrown out each year with Edinburgh’s landfill tab reaching about 7 million British pounds (more than $11 million). The city council hopes to capture about 40 percent of that waste stream once the project is in full swing, with the ultimate goal of reaching a 75 percent recycling rate by 2020. “We welcome this step by Edinburgh to increase the range of recycling services it offers,” Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland, told the Edinburgh Evening News. “It is now important that members of the public get behind these new services. Food waste can be recycled into products which benefit Scottish farmers and plastic packaging can be turned into new packaging, reducing the need to use natural resources.”
San Carlos City, Philippines
THE SWEET SMELL OF GARBAGE
What used to be a foul-smelling garbage dump in San Carlos City is being rehabbed through composting with rice hulls while the city builds a new Solid Waste Management Facility. Using a static pile method designed by William Goodings, a retired engineer based in Ontario, Canada, incoming garbage – with organics comprising about 80 percent – are unloaded in specific locations on the site. Workers form windrows about 2 meters deep with a 5-meter base, explained Goodings in an article published in the June 2010 edition of The Journal of Policy Engagement, and then cover the pile with 15 centimeters of rice hulls from local millers. “Within three days, the temperature of the waste just below the rice layer reached the 50° to 60°C needed to support composting,” wrote Goodings. “Fewer house flies were present, probably because the fly maggots in the garbage had either died in the high temperatures or could not emerge as flies because of the layer of rice hulls.”
Because scavengers had lost their source of recyclables by creating and covering the windrows, Goodings suggested to municipal authorities that “their patience should be rewarded by giving them the spoils at the end of the 7-month composting period. They could sift and sort through the reduced piles for all recyclables and use all or some of the mature compost.” When he returned to San Carlos a year later, he found that the layer of rice hulls had kept the piles moist enough during the normal long periods of drought and dry enough during the monsoon season. “The bulky wastes had permitted sufficient oxygen to remain in the piles,” he wrote. “The rice hulls had become part of the finished compost. … Some locals were given the opportunity to sieve and separate the compost from the inorganics and bulky wastes. They found that glass and metals were relatively clean because the biosystems had consumed all the organic matter that had clung to them when they were originally delivered to the site. …. The mature compost was tested and found to be satisfactory for growing vegetables and flowers.”
Recovered recyclables were sold to scavengers, yielding a total resource recovery of about 90 percent of the incoming garbage. Goodings had the opportunity to develop the project in San Carlos as a volunteer solid waste management adviser with the Canadian Executive Services Organization (www.ceso-saco.com).