BioCycle World

BioCycle May 2016, Vol. 57, No. 4, p. 6

BIOCYCLE REFOR16 Call For Papers

BioCycle REFOR16The Call for Papers is open for BIOCYCLE REFOR16, BioCycle’s 16th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, October 17-20, 2016 at the Royal Caribe in Orlando, Florida. Abstracts can be submitted via The Call for Papers closes July 15, 2016. BIOCYCLE REFOR16, which is also the Official Conference of the American Biogas Council, will cover a broad spectrum of topics related to anaerobic digestion (AD), biogas and high-value digestate and coproduct markets, and the integration of composting. These include: System design and successful operations; Feedstock preprocessing and contaminant removal; Technology options for wide range of organic waste streams; Biogas conditioning, compression and storage; Biogas markets — power, fuel and bioplastics production; Grid resiliency, microgrids and the role of AD biogas; Project financing and siting; Federal and state regulatory and policy developments; Coproduct and compost markets; Food waste management to feed people, feed soils and produce renewable energy. The ABC will have a dedicated track of sessions during the Conference on October 18-19.

Introducing … BioCycle Food Recycling News

BioCycle Food Recycling NewsBioCycle Food Recycling News: Reduce, Rescue, Recycle was introduced in late March, with editions coming out every two to three weeks starting in May. The new e-newsletter from the editors of BioCycle reports on policies, practices and programs across the food system life cycle — wasted food prevention, food rescue, and recycling of nonedible food to generate renewable energy and compost to feed the soil. “BioCycle recognizes the importance of linking all elements of the food supply chain, from farm fields to rescue of wholesome food to utilizing food that is no longer edible to generate renewable energy and produce compost and digestate to build healthy soils that in turn can grow healthy food,” notes Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle, who is a member of the ReFED Advisory Council, and a Strategic Advisor to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. BioCycle Food Recycling News features Q&As with practitioners and thought leaders working on wasted food prevention, rescue and recycling; highlights of “hot off the press” BioCycle Magazine articles; breaking news; summaries and links to industry reports; and an advice column. Sign up to receive your complimentary subscription:

Rockefeller Foundation Launches Yieldwise

The Rockefeller Foundation launched YieldWise, a $130 million initiative with the goal of demonstrating how the world can halve food loss by 2030 — one of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. While food waste and loss is a global problem, YieldWise focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, where 70 percent of the people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods and many are also part of the world’s 1.3 billion people who are food insecure. In this region, 50 percent of fruits and vegetables, 40 percent of roots and tubers, and 20 percent of cereals — all staple foods — are lost in the post-harvest stage or processes, notes the Foundation. YieldWise focuses on four opportunities:

  • Fix broken links in the chain from farms to markets in African communities by training and aggregating farmers and facilitating buyer agreements between farmer groups and multinational companies, guaranteeing farmers steady access to new local and global markets.
  • Help farmers access technologies and solutions to curb preventable crop loss, e.g., build processing industries and supply proper storage solutions, like metal silos and hermetic cocoons, to smallholder farmers.
  • Invest in financing models and technology innovations that drive mutual economic growth, e.g., use of mobile processing, solar drying, and cold storage units to extend the shelf life of the crops.
  • Engage global businesses to account for the food lost and wasted in their supply chains, beyond their own factories.

“The amount of food lost or wasted before it ever reaches a table is simply unacceptable, with devastating impacts on people, profit and planet,” says Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, in a statement. “While our initial efforts will be focused in Africa, we are exploring ways to complement this work by supporting innovative and catalytic efforts to prevent food waste in the United States and Europe.”

Travel Distance Of Manure-Derived Airborne Bacteria

Field research conducted at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York measured how far common bacteria — including Salmonella and E. coli — are likely to travel downwind from manure application sites. Shane Rogers, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, led a research team to better understand how fresh produce might be contaminated by nearby animal agriculture practices. “Our goal was to provide a logical framework to study this pathway,” explains Rogers. This helped the team make science-based recommendations for setback distances that protect human health.

The three-year research project collected field data to understand how these bacteria travel from manure application sites to produce. Samples were taken at several distances from application sites and measured the presence of illness-causing bacteria. Computer models were utilized to expand their understanding. “The models allow us to predict produce contamination over a larger range of probable conditions than our raw measurements would provide,” adds Rogers. These include the type of manure, terrain of the farm, and weather conditions at the time manure is applied. Risk of illness also was evaluated to gain a better understanding of how likely someone is to get sick from produce when a certain amount of bacteria is present. Combining all that data, the team found that produce fields should be set back from areas of manure application by at least 160 meters, or about 525 feet. That distance should help lower the risk of foodborne illness to acceptable levels (1 in 10,000), notes the study’s findings.

Rogers emphasizes that the advice is for a minimum setback: “One hundred-and-sixty meters is the minimum distance that produce growers should maintain between manure application activities and produce growing areas.” Additional distance and delay between manure application and harvest would provide further protection. The study appears in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Northern Ireland Businesses Face New Food Waste Rules

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s (NIEA) Food Waste Regulations entered a new phase on April 1, 2016. Last year, regulations that require waste carriers to collect and transport food waste separately from other waste — only when segregated by producers — became effective. Now, any food business (defined by the NIEA as “an undertaking, whether carried out for profit or not, and whether public or private, carrying out any activity related to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food”) that produces more than 110 lbs/week (50kg) of food waste must segregate that material and secure separate collection. Generators affected by the new legislation include restaurants, cafeterias, prisons, hotels and hospitals. On April 1, 2017, the rule will apply to food businesses that generate 11 lbs/week (5kg) of food waste. Only businesses that handle food waste from international transport are exempt from the new rule.

University Evaluating Food-Related Research Priorities

The Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors awarded a planning grant to University of Vermont faculty, Dr. Deborah Neher, Chair and Professor, Plant and Soil Science, and Dr. Jason Parker, Research Assistant Professor in Agricultural Anthropology. The planning grant is titled, “Regional assessment of the quality control, food safety, environmental, user perception and marketing outlets of diverting food scraps from landfills.” The premise is to gather a multistate and multidisciplinary team of Northeast research and extension faculty with common interest of understanding impacts of diverting food scraps from landfills on multiple social, economic and environmental dimensions. Together, scientists and organic diversion practitioners met to identify research needs for the organics sector and develop research proposals. This team has developed a list of research priorities to grow the organics recycling industry in Vermont. The concept was further vetted at the April Vermont Organic Recycling Summit (VORS) hosted by the Composting Association of Vermont, where workshop attendees offered their views on research priorities. This work will be the subject of an upcoming article in BioCycle.

beer from wasteMaking Beer From Leftover Breads

A new beer in the United Kingdom, Toast Ale, is making inroads in the fight against food wastes. Founded by food activist Tristram Stuart, Toast Ale is made from bread crusts, unsold artisanal breads, and those thousands of unused ends of bread loaves. The brewers slice, toast and mash the bread to make breadcrumbs ready for the brewing process. It is brewed with malted barley, hops and yeast by master brewers at Hackney Brewery. The toasted bread adds caramel notes that balance the bitter hops, giving a malty taste similar to amber ales and wheat beers. All profits from the sale of Toast Ale will be dedicated to Feedback, a nonprofit founded by Stuart in 2009 that works with governments, businesses and others at a national and international level to catalyze change in social attitudes and demonstrate innovative solutions to tackle food waste. The first batch of Toast Ale was finished and ready for sale in January.

Compost Mixed With Biochar Remediates Mine Site

In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) began a soil remediation experiment in Coal Basin, a 17,000-acre watershed in Colorado’s White River National Forest that hosted mining operations for decades. The project started on a 40-acre plot, which included a road and mine tailings known as “Sutey Pile,” notes an article in the Post Independent. The road is comprised of compacted Mancos Shale, which resembled concrete after years of compaction from mining trucks. Soil quality in the experimental plot was anything but ideal. According to Brian McMullen, a soil scientist with USFS who oversaw the project, the average topsoil depth was about six inches, and the soil had an organic matter content of only 3.6 percent. He adds that the soil was void of “litter,” or organic matter comprised of dead and decaying plants, which helps with water retention and erosion prevention.

The research group applied a mixture of compost from the South Canyon (CO) landfill and biochar to enhance soil conditions in the experimental plot. The biochar has charged surfaces, which bind with water and nutrients in the soil, like a sponge, explains McMullen in the article. To work the compost and biochar mixture into the soil, the research group used hundreds of cattle; their hoof action incorporated the organic matter and seed into the soil, and the cattle manure was an added benefit. Results of the experiment were positive. The soil treated with compost and biochar was higher in moisture concentration, organic matter, nutrients and soil microbes, compared to an untreated control plot. There were visible differences between the plots in terms of vegetation cover. In addition to the USFS, partners include the Roaring Fork Conservancy, Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association and the Coal Basin’s Cattlemen’s Association.

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