BioCycle World

BioCycle March/April 2015, Vol. 56, No. 3. 10

Green Sports Summit 2015

The annual Green Sports Alliance Summit — June 29-July 1 at McCormick Place in Chicago — is the world’s largest gathering for the sports community to unite around sustainability. The event brings together more than 800 industry stakeholders to learn and share better practices, and the latest innovations in greening operations. The 2015 Summit has a special focus on engaging fans through sustainability. Other sessions will cover sustainable food, setting benchmarks and baselines to drive energy, water and waste savings at sports venues, carbon mitigation, responsible food waste management, collegiate sports greening, and moving venues toward net-zero energy. Tours on Monday, June 29, will visit the Allstate Arena, an indoor entertainment facility that diverts recyclables, electronics food scraps and “organic circus waste”; Soldier Field, the first existing (vs. new construction) North American Stadium to receive LEED-EB Certification status, and which has electric charging stations and a green roof; and De Paul University, which has reduced energy consumption by 20 percent, operates and urban farm and composts food scraps.

Municipal Sustainability Tracker

A partnership of 16 jurisdictions in Marin County, California has launched a new interactive sustainability tracker illustrating progress being made by local governing bodies, residents and businesses toward reducing emissions and increasing sustainable practices. Presented as an interactive map, the Marin Sustainability Tracker includes 12 metrics gauging a community’s level of consumption and implementation of sustainability measures related to energy, waste, transportation, water and greenhouse gas reductions, reports the Sustainable City Network. Metrics tracked include community and household energy consumption, the rate of solar energy installation, the conversion of conventional streetlights to LED streetlights, the number of electric vehicle charging stations in each town, and the amount of waste landfilled and water consumed each year.

The interactive map allows a user to see how a city or town is doing in comparison to other local jurisdictions over time and provides additional information on how each member of the community can take further action to help reduce emissions. The tracker can be viewed at

MGM Resorts’ 13 Las Vegas resorts diverted a total of 25,398 tons of food from landfill to compost, a 50 percent increase over 2012.

MGM Resorts’ 13 Las Vegas resorts diverted a total of 25,398 tons of food from landfill to compost, a 50 percent increase over 2012.

MGM Resorts’ Food Recovery Accomplishments

MGM Resorts International received two national Food Recovery Challenge awards from the U.S. EPA for reducing food waste and, in the process, conserving natural resources. “MGM’s zero waste leadership has turned mountains of food scraps into compost to help fight waste and climate change,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. MGM Resorts (with 13 Las Vegas properties) and MGM Grand Las Vegas are two of the 32 recipients who received the 2014 Food Recovery Challenge Award, and the only recipients in Nevada. The award was given for achieving the highest percentage of potentially wasted food diversion and prevention.

MGM Resorts’ 13 Las Vegas resorts diverted a total of 25,398 tons of food from landfill to compost, a 50 percent increase over 2012. It dramatically increased food scrap to composting rates in guest dining facilities, and implemented diversion practices in its employee dining rooms, which serve more than 40,000 meals each day at no cost to employees. MGM Grand Las Vegas diverted 5,384 tons of food scraps to compost in 2013, an increase of 161 percent over 2012. MGM hotels and casinos in Las Vegas include the Bellagio, Excalibur, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, and New York-New York.

Reducing Wasted Food Could Save $300 Billion Annually

Reducing consumer food waste could save between $120 billion and $300 billion/year by 2030 according to a new report by WRAP (The Waste & Resources Action Programme) and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Achieving this would require a 20 to 50 percent reduction in consumer food waste. According to the report, one-third of all food produced in the world ends up as waste, while the value of global consumer food waste is more than $400 billion/year. As the global middle class expands over the course of the decade, the cost could rise to $600 billion, notes the WRAP report, Strategies To Achieve Economic And Environmental Gains By Reducing Food Waste. WRAP also identifies significant opportunities to improve economic performance and tackle climate change by reducing the amount of food that is wasted in agriculture, transport, storage and consumption.

“The difficulty is often in knowing where to start and how to make the biggest economic and environmental savings,” explains Dr. Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP. “In partnership with United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, WRAP produced international guidance on how to achieve that through implementing effective food waste prevention strategies that can be used across the world.”

Landfill Fees In California

A newly published 60-page CalRecycle report, Landfill Tipping Fees in California, discusses complexity and variation in local, regional and statewide landfill tipping fees based on posted “self-haul” rates and compares California to other states and the European Union. Comparison are made for both MSW and green waste fees. Report also provides spatial analysis for California MSW tipping fee data by region, by ownership (public/private), disposal tonnage, rural/urban location and proximity to other landfills.

Together with the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the National Football League, the City of Phoenix announced that it achieved a 73 percent waste diversion rate at the Verizon Super Bowl festivities that occurred leading into the Super Bowl on February 1.

Together with the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the National Football League, the City of Phoenix announced that it achieved a 73 percent waste diversion rate at the Verizon Super Bowl festivities that occurred leading into the Super Bowl on February 1.

Super Bowl Central Waste Diversion Rates

Together with the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the National Football  League, the City of Phoenix announced that it achieved a 73 percent waste diversion rate at the Verizon Super Bowl festivities that occurred leading into the Super Bowl on February 1. The city’s Kick the Waste initiative took place in Verizon Super Bowl Central, the 12-block perimeter in downtown Phoenix created to host a variety of family-friendly activities. Recycling and organics containers were placed throughout the venue. The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee encouraged vendors within the 12-block perimeter to use compostable materials, such as paper cups and paper plates, when serving their food and beverages. The Phoenix Public Works Department hauled all materials from Verizon Super Bowl Central to the city owned 27th Avenue Transfer Station, where they were sorted and processed.

The Kick the Waste initiative allowed the city to test the operations of its pilot food waste and composting program for the first time. Thirty-two percent of the materials diverted were made up of food scraps and soiled paper. These are being composted in Phoenix’s new pilot composting facility and will be ready for use on city landscape and gardening projects in about three months. More than 120,000 aluminum beverage containers were recycled from Verizon Super Bowl Central — almost 11 percent of the solid waste removed from the event.

Faecal Sludge Management Conference Report

Over 700 hundred delegates from across the globe attended the third Faecal Sludge Management (FSM 3) conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 19th – 21st, up from about 20 for FSM1 and 200 for FSM 2. The explosion in attendance at this conference derives in part from the growing understanding that insufficient treatment of human fecal sludge, a broad classification including no treatment at all, has enormous public health and associated economic impacts. The recent investment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reinvent the toilet has further highlighted the importance of this field, and was reflected in the many presentations discussing innovative treatment technologies funded by the Gates Foundation.

However, the majority of the presentations focused on the gathering of basic information. Where do people go and what happens to the material after they’ve gone? For example Viet Anh Nguyen, Associate Professor and General Director, Ministry of Construction in Vietnam, explained that total population in the country is 91 million with about 34.5 million based in urban areas. There are 20 wastewater treatment plants with another 30 under construction. While 94 percent of the population has household sanitation, this consists primarily of septic tanks, constructed in homes so that they are impossible to pump without breaking through the floor. As a result, only 4 percent of the waste in these tanks is treated. (Lack of treatment was a common theme in many conference presentations, due in part to no government oversight of sanitation, along with an absence of a fee structure.) Vietnam’s government is now looking into the potential for sludge utilization including composting and energy recovery.

A number of talks covered the state of sanitation in Indonesia. As in Vietnam, the majority of people have septic systems in their homes that have never been emptied. Over 94 percent of the grey water is directly discharged into drains and rivers. For septic tanks, 71 percent have been built with no bottoms, allowing for free drainage. There is no agency or department within the government to provide oversight or regulations for these systems. Design of septic systems is also not regulated. A talk about two treatment facilities in different mid sized cities in Indonesia described how trucks bring waste from pumped systems to these facilities. An initial anaerobic digestion step provides for energy recovery; the material is then air dried. There was no discussion of end use of materials or pathogen die off during the treatment process.

Budi Darmaman reported on a new effort in Jakarta to encourage people to start desludging (emptying their septic tanks). He noted that Indonesia ranks high in social media use including Facebook and YouTube. His agency worked to develop an animated video that they hope will spread the word about the benefits of desludging.

Innovative treatment technologies included dry urine diverting toilets as well as higher tech systems. One described the potential to produce biodiesel by capturing volatile fatty acids during anaerobic digestion. Another tested different bed materials for nutrient capture in sludge drying beds. What was striking was the lack of discussion of end users of the treated solids in these developing systems. Based on the nature of the problem and the progress described by the speakers, there is a high potential that FSM4 will attract an even bigger audience. There is much work to be done. — Sally Brown, University of Washington

New Stats On Ocean Plastic

In 192 coastal countries, discarded beverage bottles, food wrappers, toys and other bits of plastic are making their way from estuaries, seashores and uncontrolled landfills to settle in the world’s seas. The quantity of plastic waste mismanaged on land that is ending up in the ocean has been a decades-long guessing game. Now, the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis working group have put a number on the global problem. Their study, reported in the February 13, 2015 edition of the journal Science, found between 5.3 and 14 million tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 from people living within about 30 miles of the coastline. That year, a total of 303 million tons of plastic waste was generated in those 192 coastal countries.

Jambeck, an assistant professor of environmental engineering in the UGA College of Engineering and the study’s lead author, explains the amount of plastic moving from land to ocean each year, using 8.8 million tons as the midpoint, “is the equivalent to finding five grocery bags full of plastic on every foot of coastline in the 192 countries we examined.” To determine the amount of plastic going into the ocean, the researchers began by looking at all debris entering the ocean from land, sea and other pathways. Their goal was to develop models for each of these sources. After gathering rough estimates, it fairly quickly emerged that the mismanaged waste and solid waste dispersed was the biggest contributor of all of them. From there, they focused on plastic.

This research primarily collected data on plastic that floats. Of the 5.3 to 14 million tons going in, researchers are only finding between 7,000 and 270,000 million tons floating on the ocean’s surface. “This paper gives us a sense of just how much we’re missing,” notes coauthor Kara Lavender Law of the Sea Education Association. “There is a lot of plastic sitting on the bottom of the ocean and on beaches worldwide.” Jambeck forecasts that the cumulative impact to the oceans will equal 171 million tons by 2025.

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