BioCycle is now in its 54th year of publishing. Our journal, started in 1960 by Jerome Goldstein, was originally named Compost Science. There was no composting industry to speak of for several decades after the magazine was founded. There were no trade groups and shows. What there was, however, was enthusiasm and commitment. There is something infectious about watching managed piles of organic materials turn into rich compost, to watching biogas coming out of a tank be turned into electricity to run the lights in the barn. And once you have done it or watched it be done, whether in a backyard or a municipal composting site, on a dairy farm or at a community garden, most people are hooked — on the concept, the common sense, the potential and the necessity.
It is that enthusiasm and excitement that has enabled the composting and anaerobic digestion and related industries to survive the lean years, and thrive when the opportunities arise. Many remember the heydays in the late 1980s and early 1990s when over 20 states banned disposal of yard trimmings in the landfill. And we’ve had other kick starts since then, including state requirements for utilities to purchase a certain amount of the energy they sell from renewable sources, and a brief but effective dance with climate change that highlighted the benefits of keeping food waste out of the landfill.
Fortunately, enough state and local governments understand that conservation and management of natural resources — soil, water, air — is fundamental to the sustainability of their citizens and communities. They are on the frontlines to address the effects of climate change (storms, drought, excessive heat), hunger and food access, energy, water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure — in short, everything necessary to live our lives each and every day.
This reality is leading to innovation and adoption of sustainable practices and programs. For example, many local agencies get that they should be using compost made from the waste streams they manage to help create green infrastructure. And they are. The food service, grocery and restaurant industries get that it is a far better thing to donate the edible food they haven’t sold or used, and send the remainder to composting and anaerobic digestion. Not only does it reduce their compactor and dumpster pulls, it reduces odors and vectors in the back of the stores, loading docks and restaurants.
One of the main reasons these good things are happening is directly connected to that enthusiasm, excitement and commitment discussed in the beginning of this editorial. Changing individual behavior is challenging enough, let alone the behavior of a public works or wastewater agency, or a Fortune 100 company. It takes excited and committed public servants, citizens, entrepreneurs, educators, employees, students and so many others to make the kinds of sustainable and permanent change that is taking place. It also takes a steady and consistent public voice, a champion that these movers and shakers can rely on. And that is Team BioCycle. Our energy comes from your energy. Our voice comes from your voice. Our knowledge comes from your knowledge. We are all on the same team, and as we start out on our 54th year of publishing BioCycle, we are grateful for the energy, enthusiasm and excitement you share with us, so we can continue to share it and inspire others. Happy New Year!