BioCycle World

BioCycle August 2013, Vol. 54, No. 8, p. 6

Cultivating Community Composting Forum

Cultivating Community CompostBioCycle is pleased to announce — along with the Highfields Center for Composting, the Organics Recycling Association of Ohio and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance — Cultivating Community Composting, a day-long forum (11:00 AM-4:30 PM) on October 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. Reotemp is an event sponsor. The forum is inspired by the excitement, energy and innovation emanating from the rapidly growing number of community composting sites in the U.S. that are processing source separated household, commercial and institutional food scraps. Cultivating Community Composting is being held at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Columbus — which operates a large community garden and education program (Growing To Green) that includes on-site composting. The forum starts with a panel of community composters who will address a range of topics, including site footprint, composting methods, permitting and financing, volunteer management and sourcing/collecting food scraps. A variety of models and scales of community composting — from a bin system at a community garden to windrows and aerated static piles at stand-alone sites — will be covered. The forum includes lunch and a tour of the Conservatory’s garden, composting site and educational facilities. Register at www.biocycle.net/communitycomposting.

Waste-Free Lunch Challenge

Waste Reduction Week in Canada will be celebrated October 21-27, 2013. Throughout the week, one of the most successful programs is the Recycling Council of Ontario’s (RCO) Waste-Free Lunch Challenge that was launched five years ago. During the week of October 21, registered classrooms or schools in Canada conduct a waste audit by placing all unwanted items consisting of single serving containers, wrappers, fruit peelings and unfinished food on a table to be divided into categories of organics, recycling or waste. Reuse is promoted over recycling, using a thermos for drinks and spooning yogurt from a large container into one that is smaller and reusable. RCO and sponsors recognize top schools by offering environmental field trips and prize money applied to their environmental projects. “The Waste-Free Lunch Challenge proves an excellent opportunity to empower, inspire and educate youth to think about smarter consumption and waste minimization,” explains Catherine Leighton, RCO program manager. “Students are able to understand how their individual actions can make a difference. … Teachers are often surprised at the results [of the audit], which motivate them to continue all year long. Many who participated in 2012 created ‘Waste-Free Wednesday’ to maintain the momentum.”

RCO expects the number of students to participate in 2013 will exceed 100,000. Teachers can go to the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge website to watch a video that instructs them on how to conduct a waste audit. Similarly, they can refer parents to the website to illustrate how to pack a lunch that does not create waste. Interest in the Challenge has brought calls from other provinces and even California. To learn more, visit www.wastefreelunch.com.

Environmental Impact Of Canada’s Food

A new report from the Centre for Food In Canada, “Reducing The Risk: Addressing the Environmental Impacts of the Food System,” assesses the sustainability of that nation’s food system. The report found that agriculture accounts for almost 10 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions; only 43 percent of the country’s producers have implemented specific management practices to benefit the environment; and as much as 40 percent of all food, equivalent to $27.7 billion annually, is wasted, mostly in households. The Centre for Food in Canada (CFIC) is a multiyear initiative launched by the Conference Board of Canada to raise public awareness of the nature and importance of the food sector to Canada’s economy and society, and to create a “Canadian Food Strategy.” To succeed, says CFIC, governments at all levels in Canada need to play a lead role in managing environmental risks in the food sector through the use of hard and soft measures. Hard measures include laws and regulations that mandate minimum environmental standards, backed up by compliance monitoring and enforcement. Soft measures include technical assistance and cost-sharing programs that create incentives for businesses to change behavior, as well as public education and awareness campaigns. The report is available at www.conferenceboard.ca/cfic.

French Study Compares Countries’ Biowaste Management Strategies

Findings of a study commissioned by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Agence de l”Environnement et de la Maitrise de l’Energie or ADEME) that collected information on biowaste collection in 10 countries were recently released. The study, State Of The Art Of Separate Collection And Local Management Of Biowaste,” utilized experts in each country to gather information about the background and functioning of separate collection and local management of biowaste by analysing the regulatory context, the technical choices, the performance etc. The purpose, says ADEME, to inform development of separate biowaste collection in France, where the practice is not well developed. “Whereas many countries of the European Union have generalised this practice, sometimes established for more than 15 years, the number of French local authorities having set up this type of organic waste management remains extremely low,” notes the study’s introduction. The aim of the research was to analyze factors leading to successful management of organics at all levels in these different countries, including the financing and the development of compost quality assurance schemes developed in several countries. The following countries were included: Austria, Germany, Italy, Belgium (3 regions), Spain (with a focus on Catalonia), United Kingdom (4 nations), Canada (Quebec province), United States and Australia.

The final report is divided into three sections: Part 1: Comparative analysis, presenting a comparison of the countries chosen on the basis of 24 indicators; Part 2: Collection of country files, including one for France, which describe the general organization of waste management (regulation, performance etc.) and detail the specific orientations of organic matter recovery (level of development and organisation of separate collections, situation of compost, local management and specific actions for big producers of organic waste); and Part 3: Quality assurance schemes, describing and comparing the different schemes operating in Europe. The methodology of the survey consisted in finding a primary contact, an “expert,” in each of the countries analyzed. Each replied to the questions asked based on their personal knowledge of the situation and/or by calling on other experts or local organisations. Summaries of each country’s report were prepared. The last phase consisted in cross-comparing collected information according to different criteria and indicators, in order to highlight the actions which had considerable impact on the development of biowaste management, and to judge whether they would be transposable to France. The report summary can be accessed via the on-line version of BioCycle World.

Mitigating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

On May 10, scientists on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano confirmed climate activists’ worst fears — that CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere has surpassed the much-feared point of 400 parts per million (ppm) and is on the rise. Though we are losing the battle to reduce atmospheric CO2, a new study from one of the world’s leading climate scientists offers some hope for effective mitigation. In a recent paper, Dr. V. Ramanathan, who discovered the devastating atmospheric effect of CFCs (chlorofluorocabons), reveals that aggressively reducing such powerful pollutants as black carbon (basically soot), methane and hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs) can reduce cumulative sea level rise by 30 percent by 2100. Furthermore, he wrote, these pollutants, unlike CO2, do not stay in the atmosphere for 100 years; black carbon remains only one or two weeks, methane and HFCs for 10 years. Thus, these so-called Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs), can be quickly eliminated using existing technologies, such as filters used for cars in California to remove black soot, and new cook stoves for developing countries.

Stated Dr. Ramanathan, professor of climate science at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego: “Reducing CO2 below 440 ppm is not enough to keep warming to 2°C. We have to reduce SLCPs, which are 25 to 4,000 times more effective than CO2. By not implementing the Kyoto Protocols, we have lost the luxury to choose between CO2 and SLCPs.” Mitigating both CO2 and SLCPs can reduce warming by 2.3°C or more and “is sufficient to avoid reaching the 2°C threshold until 2100,” he concluded.

Photo Caption Correction

The article “Professional Teams Raise Bar On Zero Waste” (July 2013), included a photograph on page 22 which was misidentified. The photo was taken at the University of Colorado Boulder. The photographer is Dan Baril.

Flower Recycling

When you see those beautiful bouquets at your local grocery, did you ever wonder where the unsold flowers go? National Public Radio (NPR) NewsWorks broadcasted a story (August 6) on a very thoughtful woman who noticed discarded bouquets in a dumpster at a Trader Joes in the Philadelphia area. She removed the day-old bouquets, still fresh as a daisy, and drove them to a nursing home to the delight of the residents. She contacted store personnel, asking them to reserve the “expired” bouquets for her. Now it’s official.

BioCycle phoned the local Wegmans supermarket to find out what happens to their bouquets. We learned this particular store removes the fresh flowers from the bouquets and uses them for new bouquets sold the next day, advising customers that those bouquets are enhanced and larger, at no additional cost. What floral residuals are left over are composted with Wegmans source separated food waste at a local farm.    — Rill Goldstein Miller, BioCycle

Email a recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion or community sustainability quick story to us —150 words or less. If it’s published as a “Story Time,” we’ll include your name, company and email.

Industry Group Reports Food Waste Findings

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) is an industry-wide initiative launched in 2010 by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Restaurant Association (NRA) to address food waste — in particular within the section of the supply chain from the food manufacturer to retail grocery and restaurant. An initial step was a comprehensive assessment of sources of food waste using publicly available data (see “Waste Not, Want Not: An Overview of Food Waste, March 2011). The second assessment “Analysis of U.S. Food Waste Among Food Manufacturers, Retailers, and Wholesalers,” was released in April 2013, and enables a more accurate estimate of food waste in the U.S. food manufacturing, retail, and wholesale sectors than what other sources have collected to date, according to FWRA. The survey collected primary data on: Donations of unsaleable food for human consumption; Food waste reuse and recycling; Food waste disposal; and Barriers to higher rates of donation, reuse, and recycling. Thirteen GMA and 13 FMI members responded, submitting data for their U.S. operations for the 2011 calendar year. This data was extrapolated to the entire U.S. food manufacturing sector and the U.S. grocery retail/wholesale sector in 2011, based on revenue. Highlights of findings based on the data collected include:

• The manufacturing sector generated a larger volume of food waste (22.2 million tons), but the large majority (94.6%) was diverted from landfills to higher uses, such as donation and recycling. The retail and wholesale sectors generated less food waste (1.9 million tons), but diverted a smaller proportion (55.6%.

• For manufacturing, 1.2 million tons were disposed, and 350,000 tons were donated. For retail and wholesale, 850,000 tons were disposed and 335,000 tons were donated.

• The destination of food waste diverted from landfill differed significantly between the sectors. Nearly 73 percent of food diverted from manufacturers went to animal feed, whereas food donation and composting were retailers’ and wholesalers’ primary diversion methods (representing 32 percent and 43 percent of diverted food, respectively).

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