BioCycle World

BioCycle May 2012, Vol. 53, No. 6, p. 6

Call For Papers: Biocycle’s 12th Annual Conference On Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling

The Call for Papers is open for the 12th Annual BioCycle Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, October 29-31, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. This year’s conference focuses on how to accelerate the pace of adoption of recycling organics into renewable energy and fossil-free fuels, primarily via anaerobic digestion processes. Key to accelerating adoption are favorable public policies and power purchase contracts, public and private sector investment, successful facility siting, forward-thinking utilities, food waste diversion, top-notch digester management, and high-value outputs such as biofertilizers and compost. “We’ve reached a critical mass in terms of operating anaerobic digesters, available technologies and systems, knowledge and experience, policy models and investors and developers to rapidly advance our industry,” says Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle. “The goal of our 12th Annual Conference will be to attract new ‘players’ who can tap into this knowledge base and move forward with projects, positive public policies and expansion of markets for biogas.” Abstracts can be submitted on the conference website, www.biocycleenergy.com.

Mandatory Recycling And Composting Legislation Passes In Vermont

Legislation to make recycling mandatory and to require organics diversion in Vermont was unanimously approved by the state Senate on April 26. The measure had been unanimously approved by the House in mid March. Following review by conference committee, the measure, H.485, has now gone to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin for his signature. Initially covered are traditionally recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and glass, with a phased-in landfill ban of organic waste beginning in 2014 for large quantity generators and including residential food waste by 2018. A spelled-out diversion hierarchy is as follows: source reduction, recovery for human consumption, diversion to agriculture/livestock feed, composting/land application/digestion, energy recovery. “We’re very happy with the legislation,” said Pat O’Neill, director for the Composting Association of Vermont. “Developing this bill was a very collaborative process. This legislation will help advance tying organics diversion to our local food systems, which is pretty important in this state.”

The schedule of compliance is as follows: Solid waste facilities are required to collect mandatory recyclables by July 2014, leaf and yard residuals by July 2015 and food residuals by July 2016. Haulers that offer MSW collection are required to offer to collect mandatory recyclables by July 2014, leaf and yard residuals by July 2015 and food residuals by July 2016. Individuals are prohibited from throwing materials in MSW or landfills on that same schedule, with the exception of food waste, which starts in July 2018. Larger generators of food waste will be required to divert sooner than 2018 provided there is a facility to accept them within 20 miles of the generator, explains Jennifer Holliday, Compliance Program and Product Stewardship Manager for the Chittenden Solid Waste District. “The phase in for the larger generators starts with generators of 104 tons/year, who must divert starting July 2014. Then it goes to 52 tons/year by 2015, 26 tons/year by 2016, 18 tons/year by July 2017 and then everyone by July 2018.”

Noah Fishman of Highfields Center for Composting views H485 as critical to the Center’s broader goal to divert all of our food scraps to the food system in Vermont. “Progressive policy, a growing local food movement, increased citizen engagement and awareness together are creating an unprecedented opportunity for a paradigm shift from waste management to resource management,” he says. “Through our Close the Loop! community compost programs, Highfields and key partners across the state are developing the systems and capacity to empower communities to harness the potential of their food scraps. We are working statewide with composters, generators and haulers. Together, Vermont is poised to close the loop and be a model for the rest of the country.”

EPA Gives Green Light To Philadelphia’s Clean Water Plan

After a lengthy wait, the US EPA gave a green light to the city of Philadelphia to implement its innovative storm water management program. On April 10, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an agreement cementing a $2 billion investment in Philadelphia’s green infrastructure plan during an event at the city’s Fairmount Water Works. “The city has earned a place as a national and global leader on sustainable innovation and clean water protection,” Jackson said at the signing, noting that 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. “The Green City, Clean Waters Partnership promises to lead the way for communities across the nation, which can use the lessons learned through this long-term project to protect their health, safeguard their waters and boost their economies.”

The city’s 719-page Green City, Clean Waters Plan highlights how it is going to meet federal mandates to manage storm water through building green infrastructure rather than the typical approach of increasing capacity with more concrete tanks and tunnels. Such a strategy, the city contends, would provide additional park and recreation resources, more bicycle and pedestrian travel opportunities, increase tree coverage, spruce up neighborhoods and deliver green jobs, all while saving taxpayers billions. Other cities, including New York, have similar strategies brewing and have been waiting to see how EPA — which has been cracking down in particular on large municipalities in enforcement of the Clean Water Act — was going to respond to Philadelphia.

A central component of the plan is to improve infiltration of storm water (see “Philadelphia Strives for Green Greatness,” February 2011) via surface-level greening strategies that include rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavement and a variety of other green infrastructure tools. “Green Cities, Clean Waters is a game changing program using innovative approaches, breaking through barriers, inventing new norms and empowering citizens to make local changes for multiple benefits,” said Chris Crocket, Deputy Commissioner of Planning & Environmental Services at Philadelphia Water Department.

Transit Tickets To Trees

San Francisco recycling center supervisor David Nanney "recycles" still valid Bay Area Rapid Transit tickets and donates the proceeds to charity.

San Francisco recycling center supervisor David Nanney “recycles” still valid Bay Area Rapid Transit tickets and donates the proceeds to charity.

When a supervisor at a San Francisco recycling center operated by Recology, (a regional waste management company) noticed the occasional Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) ticket moving across a set of screens inside the materials recovery facility (MRF) where bottles, cans and paper are sorted, a light bulb went off. BART riders often have multiple tickets with remaining value, and some people toss them in their recycle bin. Because the tickets are made of a thin plastic and are lightweight, they present a challenge to MRF operations. At the suggestion of recycling supervisor David Nanney, sorters were enlisted to pull out BART tickets and toss them in special collection boxes. In four months, the value of the collected tickets exceeded $1,400. They were redeemed, with the proceeds donated to the San Francisco Food Bank and Friends of the Urban Forest.

Managers overseeing Recology’s collection operations in San Francisco heard about Nanney’s idea and expanded the program. Previously, San Franciscans wanting to donate unused BART tickets to charity had two options: either mail them to a nonprofit registered, or carry them to a donation box. Now city dwellers can simply tape BART tickets earmarked for donation to the lid of their blue recycling bin or hand them to a Recology recycling collector, who will deliver them to a central donation box in the dispatch office. Recology will send all tickets collected to a community foundation that redeems them and sends the money to the two local nonprofit organizations. The program is called “Turning Tiny Tickets into Trees.” Friends of the Urban Forest promotes a larger, healthier municipal forest as part of San Francisco’s green infrastructure through community planting, tree care, education and advocacy. Recology provides compost to the organization to plant trees in the city.

Cities Push Sustainability Agenda

According to a recent Center for American Progress (CAP) report and press conference, cities are not standing by waiting for Washington, D.C., to come up with a renewable energy plan, but are moving forward on their own, lending a groundswell of support to the renewables industry. “Taking Action on Clean Energy and Climate Protection in 2012” aims to counter “the conventional wisdom that says America’s energy policy is paralyzed,” according to a CAP press release. Even so, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, who participated in the press conference, called it “inconceivable that this nation doesn’t have a consistent energy policy that’s driving investment in renewable, that’s driving efficiencies in utilization of electrical power in particular, driving alternative fuels for fleets. ….We simply have to get there.”

Heartwell described how on the same day in 2005 that the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to address climate disruption, became law for the 141 countries that ratified it — with the U.S. under President George W. Bush abstaining — Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to advance the goals of Kyoto through municipal leadership. Within four months, when the Conference of Mayors convened for its annual meeting, Nickels had reached his goal of having at least 141 of them sign on. Two years later that number had reached 500.

Kate Gordon, Vice President for Energy Policy at CAP, noted that Heartwell and the other mayors are the vanguard of a sea change that includes seizing opportunities to turn an economic, energy and climate crisis into a clean energy economy that makes the country at once more secure, more competitive and more equitable. According to the 80-page report, which can be accessed at www.american progress.org, this may be achieved by transitioning domestic energy infrastructure from capital-intensive, risky and often highly polluting energy sources into clean, labor-intensive energy sources that create new jobs, grow the middle class, ensure energy security and protect the nation and the planet from the predictable ravages of unchecked climate change.

BioCycle Conference Reaches 92%

For the third year in a row, BioCycle’s annual conference on the West Coast included a zero waste initiative. Last month, during BioCycle’s 26th Annual West Coast Conference at the Red Lion Hotel on the River in Portland, Oregon, 3-bin sorting stations for compost, recycling and landfill were set up in the exhibit hall and meeting room areas. Approximately 700 pounds of compostable materials, 750 pounds of cardboard (primarily from the trade show), six cases of beer bottles, 25 liquor bottles and 20 trash bags filled with mixed recyclables were captured for an overall diversion rate of 92 percent. “It’s not zero, but 92 percent is nothing to balk at,” noted Robin Jennerjohn of Red Lion Convention Services when reporting the results to BioCycle. Allied Waste Services, which provided both recycling assistance and the audit, reported that mixed recycling was 100 percent clean and that compost was extremely clean (with tea bags the only notable contaminant). EcoSafe Zero Waste set up the sorting stations and provided signage as well as training to hotel and conference staff.

College, Recycler And Paper Company Close The Loop

Green Mountain College (GMC) in Poultney, Vermont, already closes the loop by composting its cafeteria food scraps at its student farm, which in turn grows organic vegetables served in the dining facilities. Now, via a partnership with Casella Waste Systems and Foley Distributing Corp., both based in Rutland, Vermont, and SCA Paper in nearby Glens Falls, New York, the school is recycling its paper products into items to be used on campus. All of GMC’s paper, plastic, glass and metal will get commingled in a single container and taken to Casella’s processing facility approximately 40 miles away in Rutland. After sorting, the baled paper will travel another 45 miles to the SCA plant in Glens Falls to be made into 100 percent recycled paper content products and delivered back to the college via Foley Distributing and UGL Services. “We always look for ways to make campus operations more sustainable,” says GMC President Paul Fonteyn.

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