BioCycle World

BioCycle October 2014, Vol. 55, No. 9, p. 6

BioCycle West Coast Conference 2015

Call For Papers: Biocycle West Coast Conference 2015

The Call for Papers opens on October 31, 2014 for BioCycle West Coast Conference 2015, April 13-16, 2015 in Portland, Oregon at the Red Lion Hotel on the River. The theme for the Conference is Building Climate Resilient Communities via composting, anaerobic digestion, food recovery and donation, food waste recycling, urban agriculture and renewable transportation fuels. Throughout the West Coast region, demand is high for capacity to process clean organic waste streams, producing compost and digestate, and renewable natural gas, heat and power that all contribute to building climate resilient communities.

Abstracts are being accepted for all of those topics as well as current research, project financing, feedstock sourcing and preprocessing, zero waste policies and programs and more. BioCycle West Coast Conference 2015 includes preconference workshops on Monday, April 13, two days of sessions and exhibits on April 14-15 and site tours on April 16. Submit abstracts to: www.BioCycleWestCoast.com. Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2014.

California’s New Laws To Accelerate Organics Recycling

On September 28, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two landmark pieces of legislation that will lead to significant increases in the amount of organic wastes available for composting and anaerobic digestion. AB 1826, introduced by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, requires the state’s commercial sector, including restaurants, supermarkets, large venues and food processors, to separate their food scraps and yard trimmings and arrange for organics recycling service. AB 1826 builds on the success of the mandatory commercial recycling program established by AB 341. Compliance will be phased in: Commencing April 1, 2016, businesses that generate 8 cubic yards (cy) or more a week must source separate food scraps and yard trimmings and arrange for recycling services for that organic waste in a specified manner. On January 1, 2017, businesses generating 4 cy or more per week of organics are also subject to the diversion requirement. The bill also requires a business that generates 4 cy or more of commercial solid waste per week, on and after January 1, 2019, to arrange for organic waste recycling services and, if the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) makes a specified determination, would decrease that amount to 2 cy, on or after January 1, 2020. Each jurisdiction, on and after January 1, 2016, is required to implement an organics recycling program to divert organics from the businesses subject to this act, except as specified with regard to rural jurisdictions, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program by imposing new duties on local governmental agencies.

AB 1594, introduced by Assembly Member Das Williams, finally overturns a 1996 law that allowed landfilled yard trimmings to count as being “diverted” from landfills when used as alternative daily cover (ADC), a practice that served as a major competitor to the actual recycling of this material through composting and anaerobic digestion. Landfills are required to be covered at the end of each working day to reduce odor and vector impacts, and California has allowed yard trimmings to be used for this purpose in lieu of traditional soil cover. By counting this practice towards a local government’s recycling requirements, this policy had in effect created an incentive to landfill green materials instead of recovering and returning them to the soil through composting. Under AB 1594, commencing on January 1, 2020, use of green material as alternative daily cover (ADC) does not constitute diversion through recycling and would be considered disposal for purposes of compliance with California’s mandated 50 percent diversion from disposal (required by AB 939, California’s source reduction and recycling law). Commencing August 1, 2018, the new law requires a local jurisdiction to include information in an annual report on how the local jurisdiction intends to address these diversion requirements and divert green material that is being used as ADC. If sufficient capacity at facilities that recycle green material is not expected to be operational before a certain date, local jurisdictions must include a plan to address those barriers.

How Water Aware Are Americans?

In October, EnviroMedia, a sustainability communications and consulting service based in Austin, Texas, released findings from a new national survey on Americans’ awareness of their water supply and potential threats to that supply. According to the poll of more than 800 people, 44 percent of American homeowners state that they know the source of their drinking water, a 12 percent increase from 2007. “That increase is good news to us, because our research for 10 years has shown a strong connection between knowledge of water and energy sources and willingness to conserve them,” states Valerie Davis, CEO of EnviroMedia.

Additional findings from the research examined Americans awareness of water supply threats. Following recent headlines on the algae crisis in Toledo and the Mississippi River “dead zone,” the survey showed that 8 out of 10 Americans agree that runoff from agriculture and leaky sewage systems can cause poisonous algae blooms that can threaten the quality of their household drinking water. According to the Value of Water Coalition, the average age of U.S. water pipelines is 47 years, yet the survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe the average age to be less than 40 years. In addition, when asked how fair it is that by 2020 utility customers might have to pay close to $82 more per year for infrastructure upgrades, 46 percent of homeowners said that was unfair. “Water is America’s most essential but most taken-for-granted natural resource,” notes Davis. “… The visible reminders of power lines everywhere keep electricity top of mind while our water infrastructure lies aging underground. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Compost And Sustainability At Glasgow Games

The XX Commonwealth Games, held every four years, took place in Glasgow, Scotland, July 23 to August 3, 2014. With competitions in 18 different sports, 71 nations and territories around the world sent teams. Preparations started early to deal with around 5,000 athletes (including approximately 350 para-athletes) and what turned out to be over 1.2 million spectators. Glasgow was awarded the 2014 Games in 2007 and from the start, the organizers decided to raise the event’s sustainability profile. A Sustainability Plan was released in 2010; in 2014, the Games were awarded ISO 20201, the international standard for Sustainable Event Management. Among other things, the Games’ organizers made a commitment to minimize the amount of waste sent to landfill throughout the event, with a diversion target of 80 percent.

Well before the competitions began, very positive use of organic waste was in evidence. Zero Waste Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan, reports that compost made from food and garden waste collected from households was used in the development of Glasgow 2014’s Athletes Village and other Commonwealth Games venues. “Around 57 percent of households in Scotland now have access to a food waste recycling service, allowing this waste to be transformed into a valuable resource, as we can see from its use at the Athletes Village,” says Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland. GP Plantscape’s facility in Blantyre, 15 miles south of Glasgow city center, provided the compost.

Facilitating Growth Of Recycling Businesses

The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) recently received $30,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG) program for the Coalition’s “Growing Recycling Businesses in New Mexico” project. Launched in September 2014, the project is designed to facilitate growth of recycling-related businesses that process locally generated recyclable materials. “As New Mexico’s recycling rate continues to grow, supporting more local, private businesses to manage and utilize these materials to create new products will enhance the local and state economy,” states English Bird, NMRC Executive Director. Adds Terry Brunner, New Mexico Rural Development Director: “The RBEG program is designed to support development of small and emerging business enterprises in rural communities and cities with up to 50,000 in population.”

The project is limited to target communities that were selected because of the maturity of the local recycling program, interest in launching business enterprises, and the potential for the area to grow and expand recycling businesses. During the initial phases of the project, small-scale recycling business model templates will be developed and support will be provided to business owners in the process of starting up enterprises. After NMRC has fully completed the model templates, it will host Recycled Material Business Trainings in the target communities in conjunction with local community and economic development partners.

Effectiveness Of Mulch In Managing Storm Water

David Mitchell, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, completed a research study under the supervision of Dr. Susan Day, Assistant Professor in the departments of Horticulture and Forest Services/Environmental Conservation, on how mulch application affects storm water runoff and sediment transport. According to a write-up on the Soil Science Society of America website (www.soils.org), Mitchell studied eight separate mulch types and their performance during storm events. Major findings include: Bare soil lost about five times as much sediment as soils with mulches [all types] covering them, thus controlling erosion; Geotextiles underneath mulches (installed to suppress weeds) seemed to accelerate water runoff production; Each mulch “wears” differently, and absorbs a significant amount of runoff on its own, independent of soil beneath it. “Mulch is an important cog in the machinery of the water cycle by keeping the soil surface receptive to water,” explains Day. “This improves water quality by allowing the water to get into the soil. Soil is an important part of the water cleansing cycle.”

Milan Recycle City

From October 1-3, the city of Milan, Italy, hosted the second Milan Recycle City international meetings, bringing together representatives from the major C40 cities for a two-day workshop on urban waste collection and processing systems. C40 is a network of the world’s megacities that have joined together to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are 69 affiliated cities. The event was organized by the Italian Composting Association, Amsa-A2A Group (an electricity utility), Comieco (cellulose packaging consortium) and Novamont (compostable resin manufacturer). It focused on how circular economies promote sustainable development by turning waste into resources. Milan (population of 1.3 million) served as a model host, having recently surpassed the 50 percent waste diversion rate through curbside collection of all recyclables, including organics. Milan provides residents with a door-to-door system that combines collection of paper, plastic, metal and glass with collection of the organic fraction. Over 200 lbs of food waste/inhabitant/year are diverted, along with over 130 lbs per capita of paper and cardboard. The Milan Recycle City meetings are designed to begin conversations and collaboration among participating cities on promoting circular economy models for municipal waste collection in their respective cities.

Houston Rolls Out Single Stream Recycling Citywide

In September, the Houston, Texas City Council voted to expand curbside collection of single stream recycling to all of the city’s households. Although a majority of Houston residents currently have large single-stream wheeled carts for clean paper, plastic containers, glass, aluminum, steel cans and cardboard (glass is not accepted), at least a quarter of residents have either no recycling collection service or small, hand-carried bins. In neighborhoods with the large collection carts, recycling participation rates reach 60 percent, while in neighborhoods with the smaller bins, participation rates do not go above 20 percent. The City Council’s decision will expand single-stream collection to 90,000 additional households beginning in November. According to Harry Hayes, Houston’s Solid Waste Management Director, the expansion would increase the City’s overall diversion rate from 20 to 28 percent in 2015 — accounting for an additional 20,000 tons of material recycled. Additionally, the cost for the expansion will be offset by the decrease in landfill fees and increased revenue from recycling.

Meanwhile, Houston’s City Council has continued to debate the “One Bin for All” proposal — a program that would allow citizens to throw all municipal waste into one bin that would be taken to a waste incineration plant for processing. This plan is being highly contested by environmental and social activist groups that claim it has a disproportionate negative impact on minority communities in the region.

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