BioCycle October 2012, Vol. 53, No. 10, p. 12
Baltimore City, Maryland: New Food Waste Composter
Chesapeake Compost Works opened October 1, 2012 in a 54,000-square-foot building in the industrial section of Baltimore City. The facility accepts pre and postconsumer food scraps including oils, fats and animal products; wood chips and ground yard trimmings; manures from herbaceous animals; and soiled cardboard and paper and leaves. “We can take in 30 tons/day of nitrogenous material, and 30 tons/day of wood chips, six days a week,” says owner Vinnie Bevivino. “We will be charging a tipping fee for the food waste, and hope to gain some revenue from the wood waste.” Feedstock sources include restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, grocery stores, universities, public and private grade schools, breweries, tree companies, municipalities and some residences. “The organics are being collected and delivered to the facility by third-party haulers, almost all who specialize in collecting and hauling organics,” adds Bevivino.
The building housing the composting facility is more than 100 years old and has had many past uses, including airplane and train manufacturing. Nearby businesses include a coal distribution plant, metal distribution and recycling companies, petroleum importing companies, and truck and bus dispatch centers. “I chose the location because it is close to major highways, making deliveries and pick-ups easier for my clients,” he explains. “Also, it is part of a larger industrial section of Baltimore City, with a more forgiving tolerance for potential nuisances such as odors.” The composting system, designed by Coker Compost and Consulting of Vinton, Virginia, has 14 static aerated bays; each holds about 300 cubic yards of material, with negative pressure to a biofilter outside. Chesapeake Compost Works has two employees and Bevivino plans to hire eight more in 2013. He expects that compost will be available for sale in late winter or early spring 2013.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Medical Center Composts Food Waste
One of the state’s largest hospitals, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), has significantly reduced its disposal and other costs by composting about 6 tons/month of food waste. The hospital serves meals to approximately 400 patients a day. It started the organics diversion program in December 2009, and saves about 1.5 million gallons of water annually through reduced use of garbage disposals connected to kitchen drains, says Bill Marks, the hospital’s director of food and nutrition services. Financial savings include reduced solid waste collection fees, sewage costs and local tax levies, Marks adds. The hospital also recycles over 600 tons/year of cardboard, cans, plastics and paper.
The county received a $25,000 grant from the city of Minneapolis to purchase a 20 cubic yard leak-proof compactor for the organics. HCMC did the necessary staff training. Food scraps and paper waste including milk cartons, napkins, paper cups, and paper plates from the kitchen are put into containers lined with compostable bags. HCMC food service staff place the filled bags in covered toters located just outside the hospital’s basement kitchen, When full, the toters are transported via a small utility truck about one-quarter mile away to the compactor. The hospital’s refuse hauler, Waste Management, Inc., transports the material to a 27-acre composting site in the southeast metro suburb of Empire Township. The facility is owned and operated by Specialized Environmental Technologies. HCMC may be the first major hospital in the Midwest to initiate organics composting, Marks says. “We’re proud of the program.”
Fredericksburg, Virginia: County Cocomposting Plant Wins National Award
Spotsylvania County’s Livingston Composting Facility in Fredericksburg earned a Composting Systems Gold Excellence Award from the Solid Waste Association of North America. The 80 tons/day biosolids composting plant, which opened in 2010, was designed, permitted, and constructed by CH2M Hill. Biosolids are cocomposted in aerated static piles with all of the chipped brush collected at Spotsylvania County’s landfill and drop off center. The $15.5 million aerated static pile composting facility is capable of managing all wood wastes and wastewater residuals produced by the county into the foreseeable future. Its state-of-the-art biofilter is equipped with a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to operate at 90 percent odor removal. The plant’s underground aeration system increases process efficiency and reduces costs associated with comparable aboveground piping. The county’s compost product, Livingston’s Blend, is sold for $16/cubic yard.
Watervliet, New York: Small-Scale Residential Food Composting
The city of Watervliet completed a 6-month pilot program in August that involved collecting source separated organics from 50 residences and taking them to a pilot-scale anaerobic digester set up at the Albany County Sewer District’s South Plant. As part of its Watervliet Organic Waste (WOW) program, participating households were given a kitchen compostables bucket, an outside bin and compostable bags and were asked to divert food scraps only from the rest of their waste stream. The organics were picked up biweekly. The pilot diverted 6,730 pounds of food waste from the landfill. The city has decided to continue collecting organics from the 50 residences and compost them using passive aeration at its recently built facility. A campaign is under way to recruit more participants to the program, with the initial goal of signing up an additional 50/quarter. Watervliet will also compost residents’ yard trimmings in the spring and summer, leaves in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter.
“We used to shred these materials and haul them away, but now they are used in the composting mix,” says city Mayor Mike Manning. Piles are turned with a front-end loader. Finished compost will be used in municipal parks and distributed to participating residents. Currently, Watervliet pays a $51/ton landfill tipping fee for residential waste and, according to the pilot project’s report, would save more than $28,000 annually if 75 percent of its residences participated in the source separation program. Manning notes that the city is still interested in pursuing development of an anaerobic digester, and is exploring options.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Organics Recyclers Recognized
The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa and Hyatt Regency Albuquerque were recognized for pioneering organics recycling programs during an “Outstanding Recycler of 2012” awards ceremony at the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) conference in June. Each facility’s “green team” is charged with monitoring and reducing all waste, and, in 2011, the two facilities combined diverted 164.3 tons of organics. At each property, 18 carts lined with compostable bags and placed in kitchens receive all food scraps, paper service products, wine corks, paper coffee filters and paper egg cartons. The two resort properties recycle cardboard, paper, newspaper, plastic, aluminum, metals, electronics, batteries, mercury-containing light bulbs and toner cartridges. They purchase 30-percent recycled-content copy paper and utilize recycled content and/or compostable food-to-go containers and utensils in their restaurants. Currently all collected food waste is composted by Soilutions, an Albuquerque-based composter, but plans are underway with the Santa Ana Pueblo to have the Native American community — which owns the Hyatt-managed resort — compost the food scraps and utilize the finished product on the grounds.
St. Louis, Missouri: Food Waste Collection Pilots
Two food waste recycling programs were recently launched in the St. Louis area — one involving downtown restaurants, and the other at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis’ Project Compost is a two-year pilot that collects pre and postconsumer food waste from about 18 restaurants in a roughly four-block area. The goal of the pilot program is to divert more than 1,500 tons/year of food waste from disposal, for a total of 3,000 tons of diverted waste.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport began a 3-month pilot to recycle food waste, in partnership with food and beverage supplier HMS Host. The program is partially funded by a $15,000 grant from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It is expected the program will divert about 1,000 pounds of food over the three months. Officials were hoping for more, but airport restaurants typically use more preprepared food than most restaurants, meaning less preconsumer food waste. The three airport restaurants participating in the pilot account for about 30 percent of the airport’s food and beverage operations.
For both projects, St. Louis-based Blue Skies Recycling is handling food waste pick-up on a three times per week schedule, and delivering the material to St. Louis Composting’s facility in Belleville, Illinois. Blue Skies uses 21-gallon Orbis carts, as well as 65-gallon carts. The firm developed a cart washer with the capability to wash and sanitize 40 carts/hour, according to company president Harry Cohen.
Ithaca, New York: Cornell Composts Carcasses
Researchers at Cornell University continue to assist the New York State Department of Transportation ((NYSDOT) regarding disposal of a percentage of the 75,000-plus deer killed on the state’s roadways each year (see “Evaluating Pathogen Destruction In Road Kill Compost,” November 2006). That work has been gaining renewed interest. The state only deals with deer on roads within its jurisdiction, not along county or municipal roads, explains Mary Schwarz from Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI), who teaches and disseminates information on composting the carcasses. Schwarz estimates about a third of the mortalities end up on state roads: “I think one of the reasons this project is gaining new life is that some of the counties and towns are thinking about doing it as well.”
The process CWMI advocates involves creating a bottom layer of wood chips 24 inches deep. Two deer carcasses are laid back to back on the bed with 24 inches of wood chips surrounding them on all four sides of the rectangular bed. Cover the carcasses with a 1-foot-deep layer of wood chips, add two more deer carcasses as a second layer and cover all with 2 feet of woodchips. When more deer come in, the bed is continued widthwise as a windrow, with 24 inches of chips between each set of stacked deer. “It’s a little different than doing a cow,” says Schwarz. “There’s not enough mass in a deer to do one at a time — there would be too much carbon and not enough nitrogen.”
While any carbon source will work for the in-between and cover layers, wood chips are readily available through NYSDOT, utility companies and private contractors. “We feel this is usually the best material for the base layer,” Schwarz says, explaining that the 1- to 2-inch chips provide excellent aeration. “These piles are static and are not going to be turned for three or four months.” In extremely cold temperatures, she adds, a more-dense carbon source as base layer could help keep cold air from moving through the pile.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Gulf Saver Bags Help Gulf Coast With Compost
Following the BP oil spill almost two years ago, BioCycle reported on a project utilizing canvas Gulf Saver Bags filled with a compost blend, inoculated with hydrocarbon-eating microbes and planted with native marsh grasses to both clean up and rebuild the fragile wetland ecosystem. The initial project was a partnership between the nonprofit Restore the Earth Foundation and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRLC). Recently, Restore the Earth published a cost-benefit analysis comparing the results of planting Spartina A. (smooth cordgrass), in the Gulf Saver bags versus traditional bare root plug planting. According to that analysis, the bags cost less per acre to deploy ($31,750 versus $37,850), plants demonstrated almost double the survivability rate, and the need to replant was five to ten times less (only required once versus multiple times required of bare root plantings).
Where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Saver Bags planted with black mangrove continue to be deployed in hopes of stabilizing barrier islands before they disappear. “It has actually worked out fairly well,” says Shane Granier, chief biologist and project manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. While Granier and his staff are not involved in collecting the data, “from an observational standpoint it seems like those plants take off faster than if you were to plant them bare root in native soil,” he notes. This is critical for a couple of reasons, he adds. First, the tropical mangrove is difficult to establish, particularly compared to native marsh grasses (but once established, does a much more effective job at protecting against erosion and storm surges). Second, Granier says, because the young plants are susceptible to both cold snaps and the very erosion that mature plants will mitigate, getting a jumpstart in the Gulf Saver Bags can be critical. But the bags themselves are susceptible to wave energy and tidal forces, particularly before the mangrove roots have established themselves through the burlap and into the native soils. “Wooden stakes, working with tidal zones and adjusting the thickness of the burlap material have all shown promise of dealing with this challenge,” notes Granier.
Williston, Vermont: Another Persistent Herbicide Detected
As part of its ongoing investigation of the presence of persistent herbicides in animal feed, feedstocks and finished compost, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture recently received lab results that showed 53 of 68 samples of manure, compost, feed, hay, grass, straw and manure with bedding from across Vermont tested positive for aminocyclopyrachlor at levels between .9 and 5,795 ppb. The herbicide was detected in samples of compost and manure at the Chittenden Solid Waste District’s Green Mountain Compost (GMC) facility in Williston by a state-hired lab at levels between 3.3 and 36.1 ppb. “The sensitive level in compost is 10 to 40 ppb, so at 5,795 ppb we are talking orders of magnitude,” says Fred Michel of Ohio State University, who conducted research on aminocyclopyrachlor on behalf of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and the herbicide’s developer, DuPont. (The two companies had at one time been considering teaming up on a residential lawn weed and feed product containing aminocyclopyrachlor.)
GMC has been plagued by the presence of two other persistent herbicides — clopyralid and picloram — in its compost, first discovered in June when CSWD ordered its own lab tests after customers reported garden crop damage. Both clopyralid and picloram have restricted use in Vermont, the latter requiring a professional applicator’s license.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) banned the sale of the herbicide Imprelis — active ingredient aminocyclopyrachlor — in August 2011 following widespread reports of tree damage, particularly to Norway spruce and white pine. The order required Dupont to stop selling and distributing Imprelis in the United States, and outlined specific steps to ensure its removal from the marketplace. The ban did not, however, apply to other DuPont products — including Viewpoint, Streamline and Perspective — containing aminocylopyrachlor. These herbicides continue to be marketed by DuPont to control broadleaf weeds, brush species and other invasives around utilities, roadsides and for bare-ground weed control at industrial sites. It is not clear how aminocyclopyrachlor made it into the compost stream or commercial livestock feed.
“It can’t be showing up in manure samples,” said Mark Rice with DuPont Land Management. “We don’t have our pasture label yet. The labels are very specific about use for grazing or nongrazing. We are pursuing our grazing tolerance and label, but it has not been put into the market for livestock areas. If somebody has misapplied it and put it in a pasture where it’s not supposed to be, I cannot speak to that.”
In early August, the CSWD board authorized a nearly $1 million compensation plan for gardeners affected by contaminated compost sold from the Williston facility. By mid-August, around 540 people had registered suspected herbicide damage, with CSWD field technicians confirming about 50 percent of them.