BioCycle May 2013, Vol. 54, No. 5, p. 6
BioCycle’s REFOR13 Call For Papers Is Open
The 13th Annual BioCycle Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling (REFOR13), October 21-23, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio, is accepting abstracts for presentations. New for REFOR13 is a concurrent session track dedicated to Food Recovery and Recycling, including reduction, separation, collection, preprocessing and the integration of anaerobic digestion and composting. The other tracks encompass the full spectrum of BioCycle’s coverage of production of renewable energy and high value products from municipal, agricultural and industrial organic waste streams.
The Call for Papers is on the REFOR13 website, www.biocycleenergy.com. Suggested topics include: Anaerobic digestion — municipal, farm, industry; Project development strategies; Feedstock sourcing, preprocessing and contaminant removal, blending; System management and optimization; Biogas markets: power, vehicle fuels, renewable natural gas; AD systems for MSW organics; Codigestion at WWTP digesters; Small-scale AD systems for commercial, farm applications; Solids separation, digestate, compost and co-products markets; Integrating AD and composting, models for profitability; Full circle food stream management — source reduction, donation, recycling; Siting and community outreach; Project financing; and Odor management options. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words. Deadline for abstract submittal is July 15, 2013.
Jobs And Soil Protection — Pay Dirt!
Composting is a major job creator according to a new report released on May 8 by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, in conjunction with International Compost Awareness Week. According to the report, “Pay Dirt: Composting in Maryland to Reduce Waste, Create Jobs, & Protect the Bay,” 1,400 new full-time jobs could be supported in the state for every million tons of yard trimmings and food scraps converted into compost that is used locally. Collectively, these jobs could pay wages ranging from $23 million to $57 million. Based on a survey of Maryland composters, Pay Dirt found that, on a per-ton basis, composting sustains twice as many jobs as landfilling and four times the number of jobs as burning garbage. On a dollar-per-capital-investment basis, the number of jobs supported by composting versus disposal options was even more striking — 3 times more than landfills, and 17 times more than incinerators, says Brenda Platt, lead author of Pay Dirt and director of ILSR’s Composting Makes $en$e project. Many of these are skilled jobs such as equipment operators, with typical wages in the $16 to $20/hour range.
ILSR also released a companion paper, “Building Healthy Soils with Compost to Protect Watersheds,” which details how compost use can reduce watershed contamination from urban pollutants by an astounding 60 to 95 percent. Because compost can hold 20 times its weight in water and acts like a filter and sponge, it can reduce soil erosion and prevent storm water run-off, huge issues impacting the Chesapeake Bay and other impaired watersheds in the United States. Markets for compost are growing in part due to the expansion of sustainable practices associated with green infrastructure such as green roofs, rain gardens and low impact development. “For every 10,000 tons per year of compost used for green infrastructure, we found that another 18 jobs could be supported,” says Platt, adding that “support for composting equals support for a made-in-America industrial sector.”
Maryland House Delegate Heather Mizeur (District 20) emphasizes the importance of staying focused on both job creation and protecting the environment, and that “composting marries the two perfectly.” Mizeur sponsored successful composting legislation in 2011 and 2013 allowing state agencies to update permitting regulations and make recommendations on how to improve composting in the state. Pay Dirt calls for a moratorium on building new trash incinerators while new regulations and support for composting are put in place. By doing this, Platt contends, “our communities will benefit from cleaner air, more jobs, enhanced soil quality, healthier watersheds and more resilient economies.” Both reports were produced by ILSR’s Composting Makes $en$e Project with funding support from the Town Creek Foundation and the University of the District of Columbia’s Water Resources Research Institute. They are available at www.ilsr.org/initiatives/composting.
BioCycle’s on-line directory, www.findacomposter.com, is in the process of being updated and expanded (see page 6). Launched in 2007 by BioCycle and the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), FindAComposter is the only comprehensive, public and free on-line directory of composting facilities in the U.S. and Canada. BioCycle, BPI and several BPI member companies are collaborating to verify/update current listings and add additional ones. Growing numbers of generators are seeking outlets for their food waste streams as well as other source separated organics. In addition, FindAComposter is utilized by consumers looking for compost to buy.
If your composting facility is currently listed in www.findacomposter.com, take a moment to review your listing and make any changes. If you are a composting facility in the U.S. or Canada and are not listed, please take a few minutes to create a listing. Only regulatory-compliant (i.e., permitted, registered and/or officially exempt from permits) composting facilities will be listed in the database. Any type of permitted composting operation is eligible for inclusion, including food waste composting sites located at universities, colleges, correctional facilities, restaurants, hotels and on-farm operations that typically are exempt from permitting requirements but are registered with (or have notified) a regulatory agency. All listing, are reviewed and verified by BioCycle editors before they become active in the on-line directory. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Best Option For Managing Zero Waste “Leftovers”
A quote by Anthony Orlando, CEO of Covanta, in an issue of Waste & Recycling News last year (4/16/12) got Eric Lombardi, Executive Director of EcoCycle in Boulder, Colorado thinking that it might be time to conduct an in-depth environmental impact analysis on the options available to manage materials remaining in the waste stream after maximizing the zero waste strategies of source reduction, recycling and composting. Said Orlando: “We think [our clients should] absolutely [be] pushing the recycling, but then looking to do the best with what’s leftover after that recycling. And clearly, the answer, whether you listen to the [European Union], the U.S. EPA or any kind of policy initiative, the best environmental answer after you’ve recycled is to convert what’s left over into energy.”
Lombardi’s thought turned into action, which resulted in release of new lifecycle analysis report that compares the three most common disposal methods used globally — landfilling with energy recovery, mass burn waste-to-energy or mechanical biological treatment (MBT). The report, “What Is The Best Disposal Option For The ‘Leftovers’ On The Way to Zero Waste,” finds that the most environmentally-sound disposal option for the remaining materials was Materials Recovery, Biological Treatment (MRBT), a process to “pretreat” mixed waste before landfilling in order to recover additional dry materials for recycling and to stabilize the organic fraction with a composting-like process that minimizes greenhouse gas and other emission impacts caused by landfilling. Very similar to the MBT systems used widely in Europe, the goal of MRBT is to capture any remaining recyclables and then create inert residuals that will produce little to no landfill gas when buried. The system can also classify nonrecyclable dry items to identify industrial design change opportunities, which helps to drive further waste reduction.
The analysis used an Environmental Benefits Calculator developed by Jeffrey Morris of Sound Resource Management to compare MRBT, mass burn waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy across seven environmental categories, including climate change, water and air pollution and human health impacts. The MRBT system was shown to be the best choice for a community to dispose of its leftovers because it recovers the greatest amount of additional recyclables, stabilizes the organic fraction of the residuals and reduces the amount of material landfilled. “MRBT is not a replacement or substitution for source separation, but it is a tool for helping communities reduce the environmental impacts of managing their leftovers as they progress on their way to Zero Waste,” notes Lombardi. MRBT infrastructure is also flexible and dual-purposed, able to handle both mixed waste and source separated recyclables and organics, explains the report. This means a community is not tied to feeding the facility a continuous flow of mixed waste over the next several decades. Rather, the MRBT model can adjust to a declining volume of leftover waste and support growth of source separated collection systems. In addition, MRBT infrastructure can be built and operational on a shorter time scale than landfills and incinerators, and can be modular in size to help communities manage their leftover waste more locally. In addition to Lombardi and Morris, other contributors to the report are Enzo Favoino of Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monz and Kate Bailey of Eco-Cycle. The full report is available at www.ecocycle.org/specialreports/leftovers. The authors will hold two webinars to explain the results and methodology of the study on May 23rd and May 30th.
National Assessment Of Water Availability And Use
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, also known as the SECURE Water Act, calls for establishment of a “national water availability and use assessment program” with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A major driver for this recommendation was that national water availability and use have not been comprehensively assessed since 1978. A new USGS report, “Progress Toward Establishing A National Assessment of Water Availability and Use,” fulfills a requirement to update Congress on progress in implementing the program, also referred to as the National Water Census. The Census synthesizes and reports information on regional and national scales, with an emphasis providing the assessment in a way that states and others responsible for water management and natural resources can use. The USGS also works with other federal agencies and organizations to ensure that its data can be aggregated with other types of water-availability and socioeconomic information, such as data on food and energy production. The report to Congress can be accessed via http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1384/.