Composting Roundup

BioCycle December 2014, Vol. 55, No. 11, p. 12

New York, New York: Shifting Of Processors For Collected Organics

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) initiated a “Brown Bin” residential collection pilot for source separated organics (SSO) in May 2013 that has gradually expanded to reach 100,000 households in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, as well as some high-rise apartments in Manhattan. In addition, DSNY collects food scraps from roughly 360 public schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Residential organics collected on Staten Island are composted at DSNY’s Fresh Kills composting facility on Staten Island. Residential organics from the other boroughs now are taken to composting facilities in Connecticut and upstate New York.

Material from New York City’s public schools had been going to Peninsula Composting in Wilmington, Delaware due to the level of contamination. Since Peninsula Composting closed in October, DSNY has been forced to take contaminated loads to its transfer station for disposal. “Contamination is not an across-the-board problem in all city schools,” wrote Henry Ehrhardt, Director of Customer Relations in DSNY’s Division of Customer Service and Government Relations in a letter to New York City Borough Presidents, Council members and Community Boards in early December. “We are working with the Department of Education to zero in on those schools in need of extra assistance in reducing contamination.”

Ehrhardt wrote the letter after a news report on December 1st incorrectly stated that residential organics from the curbside pilot also are being disposed since the closure of Peninsula Composting (in addition to material from the schools). “The article is not correct,” he emphasized in his letter. “Residential Brown Bin material is being composted and will continue to be composted. …. New York City has adequate capacity for our program at this time and we continue to look at various processing technologies to handle NYC organic waste streams.”

Athens, Greece: Organics Collection Pilots

At the ATHENS2014 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Waste Management (www.athens2014.biowaste.gr), held in Greece in June, updates on composting activity in the host country were provided. Currently, Greece has two composting plants for municipal solid waste; one also composts source separated organics. An additional eight facilities compost livestock manures. Three new composting plants are scheduled to come online in Fyli, Gramatiko and Keratea.

Athens, Greece organics collection pilots

In Athens (pop.~664,000), residential organics collection programs have been piloted in two neighborhoods since October 2013. Apartment buildings were given 120- and 360-liter containers (26 and 80 gallons, respectively). These are serviced by trucks specifically designated for biowaste collection. Some bars and restaurants are also participating in separated organics collection.

In November 2012, the Municipality of Kifissia, a suburb of Athens (pop. 70,600), began residential organics collection pilots in four neighborhoods using 10-liter (2-gal) kitchen pails, and 30- and 50-liter household containers (7 and 11 gallons respectively). Compostable liners were given to households until they became too costly, so currently plastic bags are accepted. Between the Athens and Kifissia pilots, more than 4,000 inhabitants are offered the residential organics collection service. About 45 percent of households participated actively after one year, diverting about 4 kg (9 lbs)/week. Kifissia had a high contamination rate because of plastic bags.

The Athens area is also home to the Ano Liosia mechanical biological treatment (MBT) composting plant, one of the largest MBT plants in Europe (see “Mechanical-Biological Treatment Plant Starts Up In Athens (Greece),” June 2007). The facility has four buildings with 48 in-vessel composting tunnels that take up 12 acres of the 45-acre site. The plant currently runs two of its three processing lines, and accepts around 750 tons/day of MSW out of a total capacity of 1,200 tons/day. An auger and conveyor belt feed the waste into the tunnels, with hand removal of contaminants. Operational costs are 50-70 Euro ($63-$88)/ton. The source separated organics from the two pilot programs are processed in an in-vessel tunnel at the MBT plant.

Sacramento, California: California Compost Coalition’s Top 10 For 2014

The December 2014 issue of the California Compost Coalition’s (CCC) newsletter (www.californiacompostcoalition.org) lists the coalition’s Top Ten Stories for 2014. While some relate to biomass energy and anaerobic digestion, a few stories are specifically about composting (some excerpts below in quotes):

Recology Enters Los Angeles Market: San Francisco-based Recology bought Los Angeles-based Crown Disposal and its Community Recycling composting facility near Bakersfield, effective January 5, 2015. “With the City of LA issuing the RFP that will require food waste to be collected from commercial accounts starting in 2017, Recology labored up to obtain the compost capacity to serve the proposed franchise zones.”

Compost Regulations: After three years of informal regulatory development, CalRecycle officially released its revised composting regulations for comments. The regulations cover land application, contamination amounts, green material definition, agricultural composting, meat scrap handling, and the permitting of anaerobic digestion facilities. “CalRecycle has determined that the economic impact of the regulations could be over $50 million in 2015. There could be 57 new jobs created just removing the contamination, adding roads, and providing lighting and screening, and seven new laboratory jobs analyzing the percent of contamination. The 0.1 percent contamination level is the biggest issue in the draft regulations. … CALTRANS is at 0.5 percent. The State Water Resources Control Board continued its efforts to require pad and pond design to be almost equivalent to landfills, and have not yet released the economic impact of those regulations.”

AB 1826 Mandatory Collection: AB 1826, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in late September, “is a commercial food waste collection law that sends a signal to start building the infrastructure needed to handle 5 to 7 million tons/year of organics by 2020. AB 1826 phases in the mandatory collection of commercial organics, which exempts accounts that generate up to 100 tons/year of organics until 2019. In 2019, accounts with 4 cubic yards/week of solid waste, or over 40 tons per year of organics, will need to be part of a program.”

Cleveland, Ohio: Organics Ride In The Rust Belt

A need for healthier soil in their community garden led a group of young entrepreneurs to launch Rust Belt Riders in 2013, a bike-powered organics collection service in Cleveland. “We were running a garden and realized before we could grow anything with success we had to cultivate the soil,” Daniel Brown told FreshWater, an e-magazine covering Northeast Ohio. “A lot of gardeners in town are in the same situation. We realized that cheap, nutrient-rich soil was the common thread and that started with composting at home.” Rust Belt Riders began offering residential organics collection in a 10 square mile area, providing households with a 5-gallon bucket collected weekly (biweekly and monthly frequencies available). The cost is $5/pick up. Only vegetative food scraps are accepted. Material is taken to about eight community gardens for composting.

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