Composting Roundup

BioCycle January 2016, Vol. 57, No. 1 p.14
City of Centralia, Washington biosolids composting

City of Centralia, Washington biosolids composting

Centralia, Washington: Shift To Biosolids Composting

The December 2015/January 2016 Biosolids eBulletin, published by the Northwest Biosolids Management Association (NBMA), includes a Member Spotlight on the City of Centralia and its biosolids recycling program. The following is excerpted from NBMA’s Biosolids eBulletin:

“The City of Centralia (WA) operates a unique wastewater treatment plant just north of city limits, which serves the city and the accompanying urban growth area. The treatment plant, which is designed to handle a peak daily flow of 10.3 MGD, has no primary clarifiers or digesters of any sort. Rather, they dewater waste activated sludge with a belt filter press, and then they have two options for further treatment for solids: lime stabilization/pasteurization or composting. When this new treatment plant went operational in 2004, the City chose the option of lime stabilization/pasteurization to produce a Class A Exceptional Quality (EQ) biosolids product. The system worked well but was expensive and the product had the consistency of old fashioned peanut butter, which was difficult to work with.

“In 2009 they started experimenting with composting their solids with ground woody debris. They tracked performance and costs to determine if 1) they could reliably run a composting operation to produce a class A EQ biosolids product, and 2) to see if it made economic sense to pursue a major operational change only five years after start-up of a brand new facility. Ultimately Centralia decided to make the switch to composting. The primary drivers were the fast and dramatic increase in the cost of lime (300% increase in 3 years), which made composting economically competitive, and the lime stabilized product was difficult to market. Today all of the City’s compost is sold ($10/yard), donated, or used on city property.”

Bethesda, Maryland: US Composting Council To Recognize Awardees

A researcher with a lifetime spent studying the science of biosolids land application and composting and two pioneering state composting regulators in New England are among those who will be honored by the US Composting Council (USCC) at its annual conference, COMPOST2016 in Jacksonville, Florida in late January. The Jerome Goldstein Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the USCC’s highest recognitions, is given to an individual who has achieved excellence in their field of study and who has made significant contributions to the field of environmental stewardship and natural resource sustainability. The award, created in honor of BioCycle’s founder and longtime publisher and editor Jerome Goldstein, will be presented to Dr. Rufus Chaney, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research agronomist, who has spent 33 years in crop and soil science, published numerous papers and abstracts and advised federal agencies and states on regulations on biosolids and contaminated soils.

Kathy (KC) Alexander and Sumner Martinson, both recently retired from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, respectively, will jointly receive the Hi Kellogg Award for outstanding service to the composting industry. Alexander and Martinson were champions of composting and organics recycling in the pioneering states of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Their initiatives led to the adoption and expansion of organics recycling programs in other states, with an eventual impact on the entire industry.

Composter of the Year will be awarded to the Rockland County (NY) Solid Waste Management Authority, which has cocomposted 400,000 tons of biosolids and 200,000 tons of yard trimmings since 1999, consistently producing Class A, Seal of Testing Assurance certified compost. The Rufus Chaney Award will go to K.C. Das, of the University of Georgia Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, who over his 20-year career has worked extensively providing design, process control methods, odor control and composting technology transfer to municipalities and private companies throughout the U.S.

The H. Clark Gregory Award will be recognizing grassroots education and awareness of composting, will be given to Christine Datz-Romero, director of the Lower East Side Ecology Center. For more than 20 years, she has played a key leadership role in New York City’s thriving community-based composting movement. Texas State University’s Bobcat Blend Composting Program (San Marcos) will be honored with the Composting Program of the Year award recognizing composters processing less than 10,000 tons of feedstock annually. The student-run, grant-funded program collected and composted organics from cafeterias and programs across the campus as well as organic material from grounds keeping and other maintenance.

Zero to Go (ZTG), an education-oriented company that provides recycling and organics collection services at small (under 500 people) and large (3,000+ people) events in the Hudson Valley.

Zero to Go (ZTG), an education-oriented company that provides recycling and organics collection services at small (under 500 people) and large (3,000+ people) events in the Hudson Valley.

Hudson Valley, New York: Organics Collection At Events

In 2011, Sarah Womer started Zero to Go (ZTG), an education-oriented company that provides recycling and organics collection services at small (under 500 people) and large (3,000+ people) events in the Hudson Valley. Womer works with 3 part-time employees to manage event logistics and hires between 2 and 20 crewmembers, depending on event size. In 2014, ZTG serviced 8 events, and in 2015, the number grew to 23 events. ZTG crewmembers stand behind the events’ only sorting stations, teaching attendees how to properly separate. It has 15 of its own 55-gallon cans and many signs that are transported to each event for collection. “In three years we’ve diverted over 50 tons of recyclables and organics in the waste stream at 38 events,” notes Womer. She guarantees that there is no contamination in the compostables stream. “Restaurant kitchen staff does their best to keep contaminants like gloves and fruit stickers to a minimum, and I help with this process by doing surprise inspections to ensure quality control,” she says.

Pricing for the service is based on the number of days, hours, attendees, vendors, etc. For large events, planning starts as early as 6 months in advance to get all vendors on board with using compostable or recyclable materials. In June/July 2015, ZTG expanded to include a community organics collection service in Beacon, New York after a Kickstarter campaign in April that raised $20,000. “We have a huge impact on thousands of people during a one-day event,” explains Womer. “We started this program to make that impact longer lasting by working with the community on a daily basis.” ZTG also offers a premium service for residents for $45/month with a $100 setup fee to cover the cost of both a ZTG branded CompoKeeper and bucket. All food scraps and compostable products such as soiled paper and bioplastic bags/liners are accepted. The organics collection program currently serves 41 residential houses and 4 restaurants. Since June, 2,039 lbs of organics have been collected from residences and since July, 23,314 lbs have been collected from restaurants. Womer hopes to expand the program to include 100 customers by May 2016.

Instead of using fossil-fuel powered vehicles, ZTG uses heavy-duty electric assist cargo bikes that can haul over 800 lbs. Residential and restaurant organics are taken to a central staging area, where 19 64-gallon totes are lined up for Empire Zero to haul to the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s extended aerated static pile composting facility in Kingston.

Sharon, Wisconsin: Trucking Begets Composting

When Waddell-Wojeik Trucking opened its Land Management Compost facility in Sharon more than 20 years ago, it was a “learn as you go” proposition. But after years of trial and error, research and refinement, Land Management now produces about 20,000 cubic yards/year of high quality compost. The site began with a rather nontraditional feedstock — a food waste by-product from a local manufacturer, and paunch manure from the Cargill plant in Milwaukee. “We would haul that product, stockpile it and once the crops were harvested from the fields, it was just land applied in raw form,” recalls Sterling Waddell, Land Management Compost’s Business Manager. “At that time we were located mostly in the middle of nothing so that practice worked fine. But as residential zoning got closer, we began to get more odor complaints and decided to start composting, pretty much putting anything that came in into a row and turning it occasionally with a loader.”

The Land Management Compost team realized pretty quickly that to create compost in any reasonable volume, it would need a windrow turner. “It was taking a full week just to turn the piles with a loader, and the outcome was not that great anyway,” notes Waddell. After researching the market, it purchased a Backhus 21.60 turner, which reduced the time needed to turn from a week to about 6 hours. The turner also has the ability to function regardless of the winter climate in Wisconsin.

Several years ago, when Cargill closed its operation in Milwaukee, Land Management began to rely more heavily on yard trimmings as a primary component in its compost. Adding this new material stream changed its equipment needs and required more attention to the mix ratios. “When Cargill shut down, we lost our paunch manure source,” explains Waddell. “So now we compost yard trimmings with the manufacturing food waste by-product. With the yard trimmings, though, more upfront processing is required before it is ready to compost, and we realized the need for a screen pretty quickly.” The company procured a Doppstadt SM 720K trommel screen, with an option to add a star screen deck if needed.

Compost is sold into a highly agricultural market, which has impacted development of the overall company. “We actually don’t sell our product as much as we sell our service in applying the product,” he adds. “Our clients are the area farms with fields of produce all around. The next generation farmers are much more educated on the science behind organics and the microbes necessary to keep their soil healthy. They know they can’t just keep shooting gas into the ground and expect good crops each year, and they turn to us for a reliable, organic solution to meet that need.”

Running a full-blown composting operation may seem like an unlikely diversion for a trucking company, but the businesses are quite complementary. Serving a mostly agricultural market throughout Wisconsin, Waddell-Wojeik Trucking is well positioned to haul precisely the kind of material that is required for making compost. And they are able to close the loop and put the finished product back into the market. “We’ve been on a pretty good track for a few years now,” says Waddell. “It clearly takes awhile to get up to speed, but we know our recipes really well and are able to make a premium product.”

Heraklion, Crete, Greece: ORBIT2016 Call For Papers

The deadline for submission of abstracts for ORBIT2016, the 10th International Conference on “Circular Economy and Organic Waste,” has been extended to January 31, 2016. The Conference will be held May 25-28, 2016 in Heraklion, Crete. ORBIT 2016’s theme is based in part on the European Commission’s anticipated circular economy strategy, which will “transform Europe into a more competitive resource-efficient economy, addressing a range of economic factors, including waste,” note the conference organizers, Harokopio University and the Technological Education Institute of Crete, along with the European Compost Network.

Following the tradition of its predecessors, the 10th ORBIT Conference will tackle all aspects of management and recovery of organic residues — from waste prevention to beneficial recycling of compost and digestate into soil and energy recovery as methane and hydrogen. A particular focus will be on food waste generation, prevention and management.

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