BioCycle World

BioCycle January 2015, Vol. 56, No. 1, p. 8

Court Supports Washington State Biosolids Recycling Mandate

The Washington State Court of Appeals released its decision on November 12 regarding the Washington State Department of Ecology (WDOE) vs. Wahkiakum County case, reversing the ban on land application of biosolids in the county and reinforcing the legislature’s original intent to support biosolids recycling in the state. Following the oral argument held July 1, 2014, the court was tasked with determining whether Wahkiakum County’s Class B biosolids and septage ban irreconcilably conflicted with the state law given the arguments presented by the county, WDOE and their amici or friends of the court. Presenting in support of reversing the ban were Natural Selection Farms, Inc. and Boulder Park, Inc. (farm amici) and Northwest Biosolids Management Association, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Washington Association of Sewer & Water Districts and the town of Cathlamet (public amici). The appeals court, in its 3-0 ruling, decided that localities could not overrule a state program. Wahkiakum County passed its law in 2011, which was upheld by a trial court, thus prompting WDOE’s appeal.

2015 International Year Of Soils

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN aims to have IYS be a platform for raising awareness of the importance of soils for food security and essential ecosystem functions. The FAO created the Global Soil Partnership as an umbrella group to carry out IYS activities, and prepare reports and assessments. The Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF) is a partner with the Global Soil Partnership. In celebration of World Soil Day on December 5, CCREF released a video about the benefits of making and using compost to build soil health and fertility.

Sustainable Solutions To Infrastructure Crisis

During the first half of 2014, the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI) at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington formally interviewed 70 of the Pacific Northwest’s top infrastructure innovators and thought leaders on how to advance a new sustainable infrastructure paradigm and practice in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The findings were recently released in “Infrastructure Crisis, Sustainable Solutions,” a report authored by Rhys Roth, CSI’s Director. BioCycle is especially excited about the report because it validates a mantra the magazine has been “chanting” for years: We need integrated solutions to tackle today’s infrastructure challenges — solutions that include those provided by organics recycling products and services. In the section titled “What Does the Future of Sustainable Infrastructure Look Like?”, Roth states: “The future of sustainable infrastructure will increasingly blur boundaries between our energy, transportation, water, and waste systems to implement complementary strategies that benefit more than one system. But today, for the most part, our communities’ infrastructure systems are developed and managed separately, by separate utilities and agencies. Among our most important, and difficult, challenges will be reforming these institutions and their funding mechanisms to enable and incentivize integrated, whole-system solutions that benefit our communities the most.”

Roth notes that there is no widely accepted definition today of the term sustainable infrastructure. Therefore in the report, he outlines systems within a “new sustainable infrastructure paradigm”:

Environmentally sound and resilient: Achieves radically improved environmental performance and greater resilience to future disruption risks.

Integrated: Connects across the silos now isolating different systems to deliver better, more efficient services.

Affordable: Demonstrates a strong business case for investment decisions, commit the resources necessary for proper maintainenance, and enjoy reliable, equitable revenue streams from users and beneficiaries.

Rich in cobenefits: Offers a portfolio of important cobenefits of real value to the community for the economy, public health, social equity, the environment, and more.

Beneficial to the local economy: Supports economic and community development by stimulating local investment, growing local capacity in the building industries and trades, and helping promote more broadly shared prosperity.

Download the report: http://evergreen.edu/sustainableinfrastructure/report.htm

Fetzer Vineyards Receives Zero Waste Certification

Fetzer Vineyards, based in Hopland, California, received platinum level Zero Waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC), the highest level of certification offered. Fetzer has successfully diverted 97.7 percent of its waste from landfill, incineration and the environment through recycling, reusing and composting, while also focusing on Zero Waste leadership, preventing waste upstream, and the triple bottom line. “Our certification program holds to the highest standards and is one of the toughest in the country, so reaching the platinum level is a great accomplishment,” says Stephanie Barger, founder and executive director of USZWBC. “Fetzer Vineyards has been a long time partner of the Zero Waste movement. Recognizing and documenting Fetzer’s achievements beyond recycling to reduce, retrain and redesign systems increases its bottom-line and motivates other companies to take the next step.”

Additional achievements by Fetzer include: Diverted approximately 2,807 tons of total waste from landfill in 2013; Composted 3.6 million pounds of grape skins, stems and seeds in 2013, incorporating the compost into its vineyards as fertilizer; Became the first winery in California to operate on 100 percent renewable energy in 1999; and Saved more than $388,000/year from disposal costs and including revenue for recycling.

EPA Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit

In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit, a free resource designed to assist food service facilities identify and implement opportunities to reduce food and packaging waste. Restaurants, cafeterias, grocers and other food service operations are encouraged to utilize the guide and Excel tracking tool to save money and reduce their environmental impact by tracking waste generated, developing and implementing a Waste Reduction Plan, and then evaluating the progress made. EPA is hosting a free four-part webinar series to guide users through the waste assessment and reduction process. Titles and dates of the webinars are: “Milestone 1: Preparing for a Food Waste Assessment and Establishing a Baseline” on Thursday, January 29, 2015; “Milestone 2: Data Analysis, Creating and Implementing Waste Reduction Strategies” on Thursday, February 26, 2015; “Milestone 3: Tracking Progress” on Thursday March, 26, 2015; “Milestone 4: Measuring Impact” on Thursday, April 23, 2015. All webinars begin at 1:00 p.m. EST.

EPA Region 9 is inviting food service facilities (restaurants, cafeterias, grocers, and other commercial and institutional kitchens) in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands to pilot the toolkit. Along with the free webinar series, pilot benefits include one-on-one technical assistance from an EPA team member; peer group support to troubleshoot the tracking process; the opportunity to present in future EPA webinars; and the ability to jumpstart or enhance participation in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. To participate in monthly webinars and peer discussion groups, a Waste Reduction Manager or “Champion” must be appointed who can use Excel and lead on-site tracking and reduction efforts. In addition, the facilities must train staff to properly track waste in the kitchen as part of the daily work routine. To learn more about EPA’s Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit and to register for the pilot program, visit www.epa.gov.region9/ organics/foodtool/

Organics Recycling Grows In Scotland

In December 2014, Zero Waste Scotland released A Survey of the Organics Reprocessing Industry in Scotland 2013, which details the volume of organics recycled in Scotland in 2013. According to the document, the volume of organics diverted from the landfill increased considerably between 2012 and 2013. This increase occurred prior to the introduction of Waste (Scotland) regulations on January 1, 2014 that require businesses producing more than 110 pounds (lbs) (50 kg)/week of food waste to source separate that material for separate collection. The same regulations require businesses producing more than 11 lbs (5 kg)/week of food waste to source separate that material for separate collection by January 1, 2016.

Significant findings highlighted in the report include: Total amount of organics being processed by anaerobic digestion (AD) in Scotland increased from 133,380 tons in 2012 to 145,505 tons in 2013, an increase of 12,125 tons (9 percent); Amount of organic material diverted to composting facilities from food manufacturers/processors increased from 2,205 tons in 2012 to 41,888 tons in 2013; Amount of organic material sent from local authorities to AD plants in Scotland increased by 13,228 tons from 2012 to 2013; and Employment in the Scottish AD sector increased 13 percent between 2012 and 2013. Iain Gullard, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, believes the findings of the report show promise for the organics recycling industry in Scotland, especially with residential organics diversion. “One of the biggest increases was in food waste coming from local authorities,” states Gullard. “Thanks to Zero Waste Scotland’s support, more Scottish households than ever before — 1.3 million — now have access to food waste collection, and we would expect this, together with the impact of the waste regulations, to have a significant impact on the industry going forward.”

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