Composting Roundup

BioCycle July 2018, Vol. 59, No. 6, p. 8
The Leaf Burrito® reusable yard trimmings curbside collection bag

The Leaf Burrito® reusable yard trimmings curbside collection bag

Charlotte, North Carolina: Reusable Leaf Bag

Marc Mataya, a Charlotte resident and inventor, created the Leaf Burrito®, a reusable yard trimmings curbside collection bag, which is designed to help eliminate single-purpose plastic bags. The “burrito bag” holds more than 4 large lawn bags worth of leaves, according to Mataya. It starts completely flat for loading then closes up with heavy-duty zippers. “I came up with the idea several years ago … however, tarps were not approved [curbside collection containers] by the City of Charlotte Solid Waste Department,” says Mataya. “I have always had a strong passion for environmental sustainability, green initiatives and with all the current news on what plastic contamination is doing across the world I wanted to do my part.” The bag is now approved by the City of Charlotte for curbside servicing; it is emptied and then left in the yard. The Leaf Burrito® is constructed of heavy-duty mesh, with 5 high-strength straps for dragging, carrying, lifting, loading and emptying. It won the 2017 Sustain Charlotte Award in the Waste Reduction category. “We are moving into mass production with public support and investment through Crowdfunding,” adds Mataya.

Teresina, Brazil: Measuring Soil Bacteria After Repeated Compost Application

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A team of Brazilian and Dutch researchers evaluated the soil microbial community after seven consecutive years of land application of composted tannery sludge (CTS) to the same site. Tannery sludge consists of solids, mostly organic, that settle out of wastewater created by the processing of raw animal hides into finished leather. In many countries, tannery sludge is categorized as hazardous mainly because it contains chromium, though in its trivalent form (hexavalent chromium is more toxic than trivalent chromium). In the U. S. and many European countries, tannery sludge has been deleted from the list of hazardous wastes. This has made composting an option for low-chrome sludge, especially for tanneries that convert semiprocessed hides/skins to finished leather.

In this study, researchers examined the soil on a site that had received 0, 2.75, 5.5, 11 and 22 tons of CTS per acre. Soil samples were collected at 75 days following application in the seventh year. The most abundant phyla were Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Chloroflexi. Six bacterial genera differed between amended and unamended soil. The abundance of Bacillus, Paenibacillus, Symbiobacterium, Clostridium, Microlunatus, and Actinomadura increased after application of CTS. Application of CTS on soil has both negative and positive effects on the bacterial communities: Negatively, it alters the bacterial diversity and community similarity; Positively, it permits selection of specific bacterial groups able to resist and biodegrade contaminants.

Albany, New York: Revised SSO Composting Regulatory Tiers

The New York State Department of Conservation (NYDEC) revised its Part 360 Solid Waste regulations and expanded the limits to which a composting facility is considered exempt, registered or permitted. One goal of the revisions, effective in November 2017, was to address the expansion of community composting in the state. The following revisions apply to Source Separated Organics (SSO) Composting that includes food scraps:

Exempt: Pre Nov. 2017, there were no exemptions for source separated composting that included food scraps.

Post Nov. 2017 (361-3.2(a)(2)), a composting facility that accepts, measured on a monthly average, no more than 1,000 pounds (lbs) or 1 cubic yard (cy), whichever is greater, of source separated organics (SSO) per week is exempt, provided no more than 2,000 lbs are accepted in any one week.

Registration Required: Pre Nov. 2017, a composting facility that accepted no more than 1,000 cy/year of SSO or a composting facility for food processing waste had to register.

Post Nov. 2017 (361-3.2(b)(2)), a composting facility that accepts no more than 5,000 cy or 2,500 wet tons, whichever is less, of SSO per year, provided that no more than 800 cy are accepted in any month, has to register.

Permit Required: A permit is required to compost any amount of SSO above the registered amount, which also was the case prior to the Nov. 2017 revisions  (361-3.2(d) & (e)).

Under the revised Part 360 Solid Waste regulations, NYDEC is now regulating mulch processing facilities.

Rapid City, South Dakota: Yard Trimmings Composting Update

Rapid City Solid Waste Division's mixed MSW Composting FacilityThe Rapid City Solid Waste Division has been operating a mixed MSW composting facility since 2003. It uses an agitated bay in-vessel composting system now marketed by BDP Industries. It also composts a 50:50 mix of mixed MSW and yard trimmings, which is composted in the bays as well. Finally, the division has a yard trimmings only composting operation, which is outdoors. “We receive an average of 18,000 tons of yard trimmings annually,” notes Jeff Barber, who has worked at the Rapid City Solid Waste Division for 18 years and currently manages its yard trimmings and landfill operations. A significant amount is hauled in by landscape and mowing businesses in the surrounding region. Additionally, the facility receives a lot of pine trees and forest debris from commercial fire remediation contractors who clean up around homes, trails, and parkways.

Logs, trees, branches, and other materials are run through a recently procured CBI 6800BT horizontal wood grinder. Ground yard trimmings are put in windrows. “What we grind now in a day used to take us three to four days,” says Barber. “The grinder keeps our bulk pile [of incoming material] smaller so we don’t have to worry about fire. In years past we’ve had some major fires out here when the bulk pile got too big. We’re able to manage it well now.” The windrows are watered and turned, and kept between 140° to 150°F, for 14 days.

Athens, Georgia: Curbside Compostables Pilot

The City of Athens, in collaboration with the Rural Action Zero Waste Program, is initiating a pilot organics collection program that will run from July 1 through December 1, 2018 and utilize $46,000 from the city’s garbage fund. Residents will have the option to register for the service; compostable materials will be collected weekly with trash and recycling. Rural Action Zero Waste Program has been working with the city of Athens for the past year to develop the program, enabled by an excess in the city’s trash and recycling fund, according to an article in Athens News. The goal is to have 200 to 300 families participating, with ideally 50 to 75 families in each of four residential areas throughout the city.

Logan, Utah: University Improves On-Campus Composting

As a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Utah State University (USU) set a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. In 2015, USU Facilities installed a Green Mountain Technologies Earth Flow in-vessel composting unit to handle about 1,200 pounds/day of postconsumer food waste from the Dining Services and Aggie Ice Cream kitchens, as well as 600 pounds of wood chips from Facilities Landscape Operations and Management. Composting enables the university to reduce the amount of solid waste produced on campus by approximately 25 tons/year and reduce the resulting greenhouse gases.

Utah State University is one of 19 universities being awarded a grant from the 2017-2018 PepsiCo Recycling Zero Impact Fund, which recognizes projects with green initiatives. The composting facility staff will use the funds to purchase a grinder to reduce the wood chips to a finer size to make a smaller particle turf topdressing compost. Shane Richards, the landscape operations and maintenance manager for USU told Utah Public Radio, “Our goal is to save about $16,000 a year in fertilizers and it helps build up a better soil profile so eventually we’ll be using less water and it will hold nutrients better.”

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