Composting Roundup

BioCycle September 2012, Vol. 53, No. 9, p. 12

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Teaming Up To Divert Organics

Busy Bea’s, a janitorial service, has teamed up with Organicycle, an organics collection company, to offer business customers seamless composting service. Organicycle visits participating facilities and helps them identify compostable materials within their waste stream. Then Busy Bea’s and Organicycle collaborate to pinpoint “Compost Zones,” the internal collection points. Busy Bea’s takes over and helps to ensure compostables are placed in the appropriate collection bins. “We provide 35-, 65- and 95-gallon toters,” says Justin Swan of Organicycle. “It’s the same price no matter which ones are selected.” Fees are $1/cart a day for weekly pick up, or $7 a week per pick up per cart. Businesses can include food waste, indoor plants clippings, bathroom paper, paper food wrappers, cardboard packaging and any other organic material generated on site. Compostable plastics are accepted as well. Organicycle partners with Spurt Industries in Zeeland, Michigan, to compost the materials. “We are currently looking into other methods for processing — including anaerobic digestion,” says Swan. The companies target small to medium size companies for their services.

Portland, Maine: Composting Program Rolls Out To All Public Schools

When the doors of Portland Public Schools (PPS) opened September 6, all students in grades K-12 (about 7,000 in total) could participate in the school district’s recycling and composting programs. During the 2011-2012 school year, PPS launched a trash separation/recycling and composting initiative in some school cafeterias. Schools in the program reduced the amount of material being disposed by 50 to 80 percent. This fall, all schools in the district are on the program. Stations are set up in the cafeterias to allow students to separate trash, food waste and recyclables into a series of bins and buckets. Leftover milk or other liquids are poured into a bucket; recyclables, such as tinfoil, plastic, paper and cardboard, are placed in the recycling container. Food waste is scraped into a green container. “Last school year, composting saved Portland Public Schools $20,000, and that is expected to go to $50,000,” says Susan Webster, cochair of the Waste Reduction Group, a citizen coalition that galvanized recycling in the schools beginning with milk cartons three years ago. Over 30 tons of food waste were diverted.

Also new this school year is a switch to paperboard lunch trays that are made in Waterville, Maine by Huhtamaki Company, manufacturers of the Chinet brand of paper products. The district uses an estimated 450,000 single-use lunch trays each school year, which can now be recycled. The compostables stream is collected by Resurgam Zero Food Waste, a commercial composting operation located at the Riverside Recycling Facility in Portland. It opened in August 2011, enabling PPS to divert school organics. Commingled recyclables are picked up by the city of Portland. According to Webster, there wasn’t much of a learning curve to bring students onto the program last year. “It was relatively easy to train K-12 students about the separating process through PowerPoint presentations and demonstrations introducing everyone to this idea,” she says. “Some people thought it would be too sophisticated a topic for the kids to grasp. We didn’t find that at all. We found them to be more knowledgeable than even the teachers expected, ready to take on this new ‘subject’ and master it.”

Los Angeles County Sanitation District's Westlake Farms Biosolids Compost Project under construction


Los Angeles County, California: Large-Scale Biosolids Composting Plant

Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts’ (LACSD) Westlake Farms Biosolids Compost Project is under construction with anticipated start up in 2013. At full design capacity, the facility will be capable of processing upwards of 1,000,000 tons/year of organic material — 500,000 wet tons of biosolids mixed with 500,000 tons of wood-based bulking material. The first phase of construction is designed to process 200,000 tons/year of material. Westlake Farms is utilizing the GORE® Cover technology, enabling LACSD to comply with California and local regulatory requirements for meeting a Class A biosolids compost and VOC emission reduction.

As part of the technology selection process, Gore participated in a series of trials and subsequent review by regulators to demonstrate its cover system’s performance and compliance with restrictive rules governing VOC emission control. As a direct result of these trials and combined with existing data from other GORE® Cover operating facilities, the company received an assessment and recognition from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, which developed and is enforcing the composting emissions rules that the Westlake Farms composting facility must comply with. These include District Rule 4565 (Biosolids, Animal Manure, and Poultry Litter Operations), District Rule 4566 (Organic Material Composting Operations) and District Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for cocomposting operations. The composting facility is located in Kings County near Kettleman City — over 150 miles from Los Angeles.

Prince William County, Virginia: Green Light For Preconsumer Food Waste

The Balls Ford Road Compost Facility (BFRCF) in Manassas has been processing yard trimmings, garden debris and leaves from its rural jurisdictions as well as neighboring Fairfax County to the tune of about 40,000 tons/year since 1994. In February 2011, BFRCF began a pilot program taking in preconsumer food waste from area school cafeterias, restaurants and grocery stores. Recently, the facility received approval from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to permanently accept preconsumer fruits and vegetables and limited amounts of soiled paper. “Now that it is approved we are creating educational materials for the businesses/hauler community,” says Scott MacDonald, Recycling Program Manager with the Prince William County Solid Waste Division.  “Food waste is small potatoes compared to our yard trimmings throughput, but the Metro DC region is really short on food waste composting facilities so we wanted to do what we could to help.” During the pilot project, BFRCF was receiving up to 50 tons/week from two haulers. “We only have a few haulers coming here that haul organics in northern Virginia and we reached out to them directly to notify them of the DEQ approval,” adds MacDonald. “We now have a small group of haulers delivering this material.”

In an unrelated development, Prince William County issued an RFP for a company to develop a solid waste conversion plant at its 1,000 acre landfill. Proposals are due by October 17, 2012. Prince William County would co-own the facility, and the company would lease the land, according to Tom Smith, the county’s solid waste division chief. The RFP excludes traditional incineration with waste heat recovery technologies, of either MSW or refuse-derived fuel, such as stoker-fired, waterwall, fluidized bed or modular incineration; and mixed-waste composting technologies that use open-air curing processes. “All other waste conversion technologies will be considered,” says Smith. The RFP specifically mentions anaerobic digestion as a preferred technology to be considered.

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