Composting Roundup

BioCycle January 2014, Vol. 54, No. 1, p. 12

Washington, DC: Attitudes Toward Composting

A national survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted online in December by Harris Interactive for the National Waste & Recycling Association suggests that Americans would be open to diverting food waste if it were more convenient to do so in their community — 67 percent of the 72 percent not currently in a food waste composting program. However, the survey also found that 62 percent would not support an increase in the cost of their waste and recycling service, either in the form of a separate fee or an increase in taxes, if necessary to support separate food waste and yard trimmings collection and processing. “Waste and recycling experts agree that increased conversion of organics into either compost or energy sources is an evolving trend in our industry,” said Sharon H. Kneiss, president and CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association, adding that challenges related to collection and transport of food waste and siting composting facilities are inhibiting changes. “But a far greater hurdle inhibiting an organics revolution may involve a lack of understanding by the American public about the value of such a change.”

More than three-quarters of adults surveyed (77 percent) say that they understand the importance of implementing a separate management process for food/yard organic material; more than two-thirds of those who do not compost via community programs (68 percent) say they would be willing to manage another bin to separate food waste from recyclables and other trash if their community implemented a program requiring them to do so. Among Americans who have gardens or a yard, four in five (79 percent) say they would be willing to use gardening fertilizers, mulch and other products made from food waste compost.

Bethesda, Maryland: Curb To Compost Toolkit, Operator Training

To assist municipalities with residential food waste collection, the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation created a new toolkit of educational resources titled “Curb to Compost.” It covers the elements and benefits of starting and running a food scraps collection program, and includes a link to BioCycle’s 2013 Nationwide Survey Report, “Residential Food Waste Collection In The U.S.” There is a framework for a successful collection program as well as materials and tools educate residents on the basics of compost and composting, the benefits of compost and why the residents should participate. The target audience includes city governments that have a composting program but are not currently collecting residential food scraps. All materials are available in downloadable form for public use at www.compostfoundation.org/curbtocompost.

The USCC also announced the 2014 schedule for its Compost Operations Training Course. The week-long trainings provide a full overview of how to run a commercial-scale composting facility. The instructors are regional composting experts from business and academia. Programming includes classroom instruction and field work. An average of 15 students are in each class. Courses for 2014 will be held at: The Western Center for Agricultural Equipment, Davis, California, March 3-8, 2014; Vista Organics Recycling Facility, Apopka, Florida, May 5-9, 2014; North Carolina State University, Edward Booth Field Learning Lab, Raleigh, North Carolina, September 15-10, 2014. A fourth training will be held in New York State during the summer (details to be announced). For more information, visit www.compostingcouncil.org/COTC.

Atlanta, Georgia: Revised State Manual For Erosion And Sediment Control

The “Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia” (Green Book) has been revised, with the changes becoming effective on January 1, 2014. Revisions include addition of new Best Management Practices (BMPs), as well as benchmark standards for most new and existing BMPs. The benchmarks are a result of data collected from standardized testing procedures approved by the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC) and completed on randomly selected products and practices. One of those products was Filtrexx International’s SiltSoxx™, a compost-based BMP that is a competitive replacement product for silt fence. “The testing process used a recognized ASTM test method that treats all products the same,” explains Rod Tyler, CEO of Filtrexx. “A series of tests were conducted with a number of leading products, and the SiltSoxx outperformed all other products by a wide margin. Based on this test data, Georgia listed minimum performance criteria, establishing a benchmark that has to be met or the product cannot be used. We anticipate these criteria will be used as a model for other states to predict performance of BMPs in the field.”

Groundz Recycling, LLC of Cincinnati, Ohio is a collection and composting service, which is working with local farms, community gardens, restaurants, the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps Program and others to get small-scale diversion programs started.

Cleveland, Ohio: Groundz Off The Ground — And Running

In December 2012, Greg Jackson — inspired by Starbuck’s Grounds for Your Garden initiative — began investigating how he could participate in composting food waste. Jackson quickly discovered that there was plenty of food to collect. Someone just needed to do it. This realization led to the formation of Groundz Recycling, LLC, a collection and composting service, which is working with local farms, community gardens, restaurants, the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps Program and others to get small-scale diversion programs started. Food scraps are collected in 5-gallon buckets, the majority donated by Melt Bar and Grilled, a local sandwich shop. Approximately 600 lbs are composted each week. The first ton of material collected — primarily coffee grounds — was composted in Jackson’s parents’ backyard. “In June 2013, Maggie’s Farm became our very first urban farm to become a Groundz composting farm,” recalls Jackson. “This is a better solution than spreading compost over my parents’ yard for organic waste recycling.” Small-scale community composting sites were added to McGregor House, a senior care facility in East Cleveland, and Buckeye Farms of Cleveland Botanical Garden.

“Not only are we recycling Buckeye’s own organic waste, but we have thus far recycled 1,660 pounds of coffee grounds at this composting site, only occupying one-third of our available composting space within our first 100 square foot Ohio EPA Class II waste exemption space,” notes Jackson, referencing the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s permit exemption for community gardens and urban farms. The exemption allows up to 300 sq. ft. of food waste composting at these sites. He works with the Garden’s Green Corps, which has been employing inner city youth from Cleveland Metropolitan School District since 1996.

About a half-ton of coffee grounds collected by Groundz Recycling has been composted at McGregor House, which also adds its own kitchen scraps to the pile. Finished compost is used at the facility’s community garden; plots are available to families in the neighborhood. “At McGregor, we also have a unique relationship with Davey Tree, who brings by chipped landscaping waste, which we mix with food waste,” says Jackson. A more recent collaboration is with Cleveland Bike Composting, which offers food scraps collection service to households. “We donated 232 buckets with resealable lids to help them get started,” he adds. “Over $4,000 was raised to help the founders, Daniel Brown and Michael Robinson, have trikes welded for the bicycle pick up services for residents. The food scraps will be dropped off at neighborhood community gardens and Groundz urban farms to be composted.” As more materials are collected Jackson will be looking for more composting sites to keep operations under 300 square feet to comply with the Ohio EPA exemption.

Denver, Colorado: Residential Food Waste Collection Expands

The Denver City Council and the Mayor approved a proposal to expand the city’s compost collection program service areas, beginning in January 2014. The expansion could serve as many as 5,000 homes in 2014. The Denver Compost program was launched as a pilot program in 2007 to give residents an opportunity to have their organic waste picked up separately from their trash. It became a fee-based service in 2010. Since then, approximately 2,200 households have regularly used the service, according to a recent article in the Denver Post. All food scraps, soiled paper and yard trimmings are set out for collection in a wheeled green cart provided by the city. BPI-certified compostable bags can be used to contain food scraps. (The city also provides a 2-gallon kitchen container.) Weekly collection takes place on the same day as recycling pick up. The annual fee is $117.50. Denver Recycles delivers the organic material collected to a composting facility run by A1 Organics. The city received a $2 million loan from the local Department of Environmental Health to purchase a second collection truck. About 32,000 homes are eligible for the service. Signups are on a first-come, first-serve basis and the program is designed to support only 5,000 homes, notes the Denver Post article.

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