BioCycle September 2013, Vol. 54, No. 9, p. 6
October 19: Cultivating Community Composting Forum
The Cultivating Community Composting Forum — a one-day event for community composters, urban farmers and community gardeners to learn, network and grow — will be held Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 11:00 AM-4:30 PM at the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio. The forum is organized by BioCycle, with sponsorship from the Organics Recycling Association of Ohio, the Highfields Center for Composting, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Reotemp, Green Mountain Technologies and O2 Compost. “In the beginning of 2013, we met a group of community composters from New York City who were interested in starting a national forum for practitioners and advocates of community composting,” explains Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle. “They approached us about hosting this forum, and working together to build a national network to foster a ‘community of successful practices.’” The event in Columbus serves to help build this network on both the local and national levels, with community composting practitioners and advocates from Ohio as well as the broader Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. The opening panel discussion on October 19 reflects this mix, with community composters and gardeners from Columbus and Cleveland, as well as New York City and Vermont. The Forum is designed to maximize exchange of lessons learned in a range of categories that include land access and permitting, financing, composting methods that eradicate odors and pests, recruiting and managing volunteers, and compost utilization in community gardens, urban farms and neighborhood greening. Forum participants are asked to complete an on-line survey that requests information on their community composting projects, information needs and operating challenges. Responses will inform the afternoon “speed-dating” topics, as well as provide insights to help shape the national Community Composting Forum and Network. To view the complete agenda and register go to www.biocycle.net/communitycomposting. The $35 registration fee includes lunch and a tour of the Franklin Park Conservatory’s community gardens and composting operation.
Global Food Wastage Footprint
A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that “a staggering” 1.4 billion tons of food per year are wasted, “not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself.” Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources is the first study to analyze the consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity. Among its key findings: Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere. “And FAO’s report estimates that beyond the environmental impacts, the direct economic consequences to producers of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) cost $750 billion annually.
“All of us — farmers and fishers, food processors and supermarkets, local and national governments, individual consumers — must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and reuse or recycle it when we can’t,” says FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day.” FAO also published, as a companion to its new study, a comprehensive tool kit that contains recommendations on how food loss and waste can be reduced at every stage of the food chain. In addition, the United Nations Environment Program and FAO are founding partners of the Think Eat Save—Reduce Your Footprint campaign launched in 2013 to assist in coordinating worldwide efforts to manage down wastage.
A combination of consumer behavior and lack of communication in the supply chain underlies the higher levels of food waste in affluent societies, according to FAO. Consumers fail to plan their shopping, overpurchase, or overreact to “best-before-dates,” while quality and aesthetic standards lead retailers to reject large amounts of perfectly edible food. In developing countries, significant post-harvest losses in the early part of the supply chain are a key problem, occurring as a result of financial and structural limitations in harvesting techniques and storage and transport infrastructure, combined with climatic conditions favorable to food spoilage. The suggested strategy to address global food wastage is similar to other initiatives (see “What Is Waste Food,” August 2013). It starts with reducing food wastage, (e.g., better balancing production with demand), followed by reuse within the human food chain, wtih food no longer edible diverted to feed animals (conserving natural resources use to grow feed). Next is recycling and recovery including by-product recycling, anaerobic digestion and composting.
Looking Forward To A Sequel
A new children’s book, Think … Before You Throw It Away by Kelsey Rae, was published by Vocal Trash, an urban themed Broadway style variety show that features recycled instruments. In the story, a 10-year-old girl is walking by a pile of trash on her way to school when she hears: “Hey, girl in pink, look over here, Help us get out! Our end is near!” Why, asks the girl? “They burn us and melt us … dispose of us far, break us into pieces, they don’t care who we are,” cry the paper, bottles and cans. Of course, when the girl brings her parents to the trash pile after school, they don’t hear anything. “Grown-ups don’t believe,” said the trash the next day. “It’s up to the children to make change occur …. If disposed of correctly, from bin to bin, They can reuse us, again and again. If we all tried to change just one thing a day, Simply to Think … before you throw it away.” We look forward to the sequel when the banana peels, moldy bread and pineapple tops call out for help. www.vocaltrash.net
European Biosolids Conference
The 18th Annual European Biosolids & Organic Resources Conference, Seminar & Exhibition will be held November 19-20, 2013 in Manchester, England. The program covers the latest innovations and updates of existing technologies in the area of biosolids and organic resource handling, treatment and recycling. This year’s session themes include: Operating experiences and potential problems with digester operations; Ensuring optimum energy recovery from biogas; Thickening and dewatering; Modelling sludge handling and utilization; Tackling potential odor issues; and Enhancing the value of biosolids and digestate. www.european-biosolids.com
Getting Your Goat
Last May, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announced it was awarding a contract for sustainable management grazing services at O’Hare International Airport to Central Commissary Holdings, LLC, which maintains a small grazing herd of goats. Up to 120 acres of land on four sites were identified for grazing — all located in areas away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing. The sites include hilly areas along creeks or streams and roadway right-of ways that are overcrowded with dense scrub vegetation that’s difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment. This 2-year pilot project “aligns with the CDA’s desire to implement aviation industry-leading sustainability initiatives that complement and promote the City of Chicago’s commitment to sustainability at Chicago’s airports,” explained CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. “It will help the CDA achieve many economic, operational, environmental and social benefits, achieving our goal of balancing people, planet and profit.” Among the environmental benefits are elimination of chemical herbicides, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, naturally recycling the manure nutrients as fertilizer and reduced erosion. Last month, an article in USA Today focused on this trend, reporting that goats help control invasive weeds and, even better, eat poison ivy.
Recycling And Composting Emissions Protocol
ICLEI USA (Local Governments for Sustainability) recently released a Recycling and Composting Emissions Protocol (RC Protocol) in recognition of the contribution recycling and composting can make to greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) initiatives. Published in July 2013, the RC Protocol serves as the new national standard for estimating the emissions benefits of recycling and composting at the community level. “The expansion of recycling and composting programs in recent decades has been largely although not exclusively driven by decisions made at the city and county level to provide for recycling and composting services,” states the introduction in the RC Protocol. “In some cases, programs to increase recycling and composting rates can be among the most cost-effective actions local governments can take to reduce community GHG emissions.”
The RC Protocol helps account for the overall net emissions benefits of recycling and composting activities in communities, as well as to estimate additional emissions reductions that occur outside the boundary of a community inventory. This Protocol may stand on its own, or it may be used in conjunction with ICLEI’s Community Protocol for Emissions Accounting and Reporting (Community Protocol).
Tags: Food waste