Composting Roundup

BioCycle February 2017, Vol. 58, No. 2, p. 13

compost climate connection

Reston, Virginia: Compost & Climate Connection Publication

The Compost & Climate Connection, A Land Manager’s Guide To Organics, provides a clear explanation of how organic “wastes” are really resources in the fight against climate change. Written by Sally Brown, Phd (Univ. of Washington), Britt Faucette, Phd (Filtrexx) and Kate Kurtz (King County (WA) Dept. of Natural Resources), and published by the Composting Council Research & Education Foundation (CCREF), this new publication is a companion to the CCREF’s The Soil & Water Connection. Write the authors in the introduction, “Composting food scraps, yard trimmings and other organic (carbon-based) materials to produce stable soil products provides for healthier soils that not only store more carbon, it makes our soils more productive and more resilient to the changes that are already occurring.”

Compost & Climate explains short- and long-term carbon cycles and soil carbon storage, provides details on the various organics to be composted, and includes case studies and data. It is available for sale on the CCREF:  http://compostfoundation.org/

Perdue Farms compostingBlades, Delaware: Perdue Farms Starts Up Composting Operation

Perdue Farms has expanded its $68 million investment in nutrient recycling on the Delmarva Peninsula with the addition of a $12 million composting facility that began operating in late 2016. The AgriSoil composting facility is next to Perdue AgriRecycle’s organic fertilizer plant in Blades. It increases Perdue’s capacity to handle surplus poultry litter from Delmarva chicken farms and adds the capability to recycle other agricultural by-products such as egg shells from hatcheries and grease from chicken-processing plants. Total materials processed between the two facilities are an estimated 80,000 tons/year.

The poultry litter and other feedstocks are mixed with wood chips in an enclosed receiving building (with building air treated through a biofilter), then moved to aerated concrete bunkers and covered with an engineered fabric where material remains for about 30 days. Next, partially composted material is moved to a pad and formed into windrows, which are turned with a Komptech TopTurn X55. This phase also lasts about 30 days. The final AgriSoil product will be marketed for commercial use and to distributors of consumer lawn-and-garden products. Perdue Farms notes the compost is especially good for improving sandy soils, restoring depleted soils and as a seedbed. Video on AgriSoil process

Rust Belt RidersCleveland Ohio: Rust Belt Riders Expands Operations

BioCycle checked in recently with Michael Robinson of Rust Belt Riders (RBR), a Cleveland-based commercial organics collection service that started in June 2014 using bikes with custom-made trailers (see “Organically Growing Organics Collection,” May 2016). Originally, RBR took collected organics to 12 community gardens around Cleveland for composting. Its expansion over the past several years has included the addition of vehicles, including a box truck, for collection. Robinson reports the following new developments:

“We are currently collecting from 50 organizations, which is only 5 more since BioCycle wrote the article, but these new locations have significantly higher volumes than previous accounts. We are phasing in an area health care system as well as a grocery store chain. …. Rust Belt Riders still works with a network of community gardens and urban farms for community-scale composting. We also bring some materials to Kurtz Brothers, one of the only Class 2 licensed facilities in Northeast Ohio. It is through this network that we are able to compost roughly 10,000 lbs/week of food scraps.

“Two of the community sites are especially notable. Ben Franklin Community Gardens in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn Neighborhood has been active for over 30 years. At 5 acres, it is one of the largest in the country with 207 plots and 180 gardeners per year. Ohio City Farm was at one point one of the country’s largest contiguous urban farms at 6 acres. It is run in part by Refugee Response, an organization whose mission is to ‘empower refugees to become self-sufficient and contributing members to the their communities.’ We will be prioritizing community composting (processing the material at community gardens close to where the material is generated) as we expand our processing capacity to accommodate increasing feedstocks.

“In March, we will be rolling out three months of educational programming using a shipping container, called the ICAN2LAB, that has been converted into a mobile classroom in partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’ Climate Ambassadors to advance neighborhood scale climate adaptation strategies. The container will travel to four of Cleveland’s neighborhoods to work directly with communities to provide education and workshops on climate change, food waste, composting, and more.

“In conjunction with our ongoing community composting and education, we are diversifying our impact on the local food ecosystem by producing protein for animal feed in the form of black soldier fly larvae. We will be moving into a 10,000 square foot facility which we anticipate will have the ability to process as much as 10 million pounds of food waste and generate 80 tons of animal feed annually once fully functioning.”

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: City Rolls Out Pilot Organics Collection

Milwaukee is exploring curbside organics collection, initiating a one-year pilot program for about 500 households. The service will cost $12.75/month; it includes a $1.00/household/month credit for organics not landfilled. Participants will receive a 64-gallon cart from the Department of Public Works (DPW) at no cost. Collection service — weekly from April to November and biweekly from December to March — will be provided by Compost Crusader, with processing by Blue Ribbon Organics. Each participant also will receive a Welcome Starter Kit that includes a welcome letter, a kitchen caddy, compostable BioBags, a full list of compostable items to include in the organics cart, and a collection schedule. Meats are not accepted, and all organics must be in paper or compostable plastic bags inside the carts.

The pilot is a result of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett adopting a goal to increase the annual landfill diversion by 40 percent by 2020, and a 2015 legislative resolution that directed the DPW to study the feasibility of an optional organics collection program by operating a one-year pilot, with additional costs passed on to participants. DPW selected the contractor through a competitive RFP process.

Atlanta, Georgia: Airport Planning New Composting Operations

Six firms are competing for a chance to develop and operate a composting and recycling facility at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the latest round of contracting for the project known as Green Acres. The firms include Cash Development LLC, Randolph & Company LLC, Columbia Technology LLC, Green Energy & Development Inc., Multiplex LLC and Sun State Organics LLC, according to the city of Atlanta’s procurement department. The airport is seeking a vendor to lease up to 30 acres of land to design, construct, finance, operate and maintain facilities to recycle and to compost airport organics and yard trimmings from the city. This is Hartsfield-Jackson’s fourth attempt to find a company to build and operate the Green Acres facility on a long-term lease.

The airport has struggled in recent years to improve its environmental sustainability. In 2009, it launched the GreenSortATL (Atlanta) program to improve recycling, but that failed due to excessive contamination in the recyclables. In 2012, plans to divert food scraps to the former Greenco Environmental facility in Barnesville ended when that facility closed. Hartsfield-Jackson then decided to develop a facility itself, creating Green Acres ATL Energy Park Campus, which is envisioned to include both composting and anaerobic digestion, a recyclables material recovery facility, greenhouses, a combined heat-and-power station, solar arrays and an education center.

Seneca Castle, New York: Vermicomposter Expands Operations

Organix Green Industries is a large-scale vermicomposting facility in Seneca Castle. It has 100 trenches filled with worms that are able to process 2,000 tons/year of food waste. The vermicompost is certified for use in organic agriculture. Organix Green recently was awarded a grant from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) to expand its operations, using vermicomposting to process municipal biosolids. The work will begin as a pilot program, consisting of four 100-foot long trenches, approximately 15 feet wide and four feet deep. The trenches will be filled with about 40 tons of leaves, shredded paper, and other amendments, then mixed with the biosolids. Each trench will have the capacity to process 80 wet tons of mixed feedstocks annually. Residence time in the planned system will be about 180 days at mesophilic temperatures, after which the compost will be available for use as a Class B limited distribution biosolids product. Targeted end uses include parks, municipal open spaces, lawns and landscaping applications.

Emmet County, Michigan: $10,000 Grant To Expand Composting

Emmet County Recycling (ECR) recently received a $10,000 grant from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation to help citizens cut down on food waste. The county plans to provide hundreds of free kitchen food waste caddies and household toolkits in exchange for a pledge to reduce and recycle food waste via composting. The funds also will be used to establish drop-off locations for residential food waste and encourage backyard composting. Emmet County currently sells compost bins at its Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center. A commercial food scraps collection pilot program began in 2015, which expanded in 2016 after a successful trial run (see “Food Scraps Collection in a Rural County,” December 2016).

Shoanxi, China: Composting Antibiotic Resistant Genes

Due to overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, high abundances of antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) are found in manures. There have been indications that these ARGs could spread to pathogenic microbes via lateral gene transfer during land application of manures. A team of Chinese researchers has demonstrated that long-term thermophilic composting is effective at reducing ARGs, integrons (genetic indicators of the formation of multi-drug resistance) and human pathogenic bacteria (HPBs) that can receive ARGs through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). The researchers set up 40-day duration bench-scale experiments to evaluate the effect of three different dairy manure composting temperature regimes on ARGs, HGT and HPBs. The regimes were: insufficient thermophilic composting (45°C maximum for 7 days); near-thermophilic composting (> 55°C for five days); and continuous thermophilic composting (55°C for 40 days). The treatments were labeled ITC, NTC and CTC, respectively.

Ten ARGs were detected in the raw manure. Neither the ITC or NTC treatments significantly degraded the ARGs, and the CTC treatment only degraded 8 of the 10 ARGs. This was attributed to the fact that thermophilic composting bacteria can also be hosts to ARGs. Two integrons were tested in the experimental setup. The ITC treatment actually recorded an increase in both integrons, suggesting that mesophilic composting may facilitate the greater integration and transmission of ARGs, while the NTC and CTC treatments were more effective in reducing integrons. The researchers postulate that integrons might be more completely degraded under different composting conditions.

Thirteen genera of HPBs were detected in the raw manure. HPBs can acquire ARGs through lateral gene transfer and make treating illnesses caused by the bacteria more resistant to treatment. After 10 days, the CTC treatment reduced HPBs by 93.2 percent, the NTC treatment reduced them by 31.0 percent and the ITC treatment reduced HPBs by 38.9 percent. At the end of composting, the CTC treatment showed the complete removal of 8 of 10 HPB genera. The researchers concluded that continuous thermophilic composting is effective at minimizing public health risks due to ARGs and HPBs in manures. The study appeared in the Nov. 2016 issue of Bioresource Technology.

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