Mayor Bloomberg Signs Organics Diversion Law
On December 19, 2013, the New York City Council passed legislation requiring commercial food scraps from the largest food service establishments to be recycled. And on December 30, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the bill into law. The legislation, Introductory No. 1162-A, requires restaurants and other food service establishments of a certain size or number within New York City, and other commercial operations that generate signfiicant food waste, to source separate their organic waste by July 1, 2015. Examples of entities that would be required to comply include, but are not limited to, stadiums, chain food service restaurants, catering establishments and supermarkets. “The Department of Sanitation Commissioner will be required to evaluate the capacity of facilities within 100 miles of the City that compost or process organic waste,” explained Bloomberg when signing the law. “If the Commissioner determines that there is a sufficient capacity at a cost that is competitive with regular waste collection, the Commissioner will designate establishments that will be required to source separate this material whose total organic tonnage is commensurate with the estimated capacity.” The Mayor acknowledged the law will provide composting and anaerobic digester operators with assurance that they will have a steady and reliable stream of organic material from commercial establishments if they move ahead with building organics processing capacity.
“New York City’s extraordinary action will be a shot of adrenaline to the growing biogas and compost industries which are ready, able and willing to manage organic wastes as a resource,” said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council. “This new policy fulfills a fundamental need for biogas and composting project development: a predictable and reliable source of organic feedstocks. With it, compost manufacturing facilities can produce a reliable supply of compost and biogas facilities can continuously produce biogas and digested materials for gardening and agriculture. Project financing also flows more readily with more certainty in feedstock supply, and will create jobs, renewable energy and soil amendment products while reducing greenhouse gases. Nationally, this will bring attention to one of the easiest steps cities and states can take to improve the environment and economy: require organics in the waste stream to be recycled just like glass, metal, paper and plastic.”
California Governor’s Proposed Budget Is Great News For Organics Recycling
California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2014-2015 budget includes investing $30 million of the state’s cap-and-trade proceeds in recycling, composting, recycled-content manufacturing and organic waste to energy projects. Specifically, the Budget Summary language outlines “$30 million for the Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery to provide financial incentives for capital investments that expand waste management infrastructure, with a priority in disadvantaged communities. Investment in new or expanded clean composting and anaerobic digestion facilities is necessary to divert more materials from landfills, a significant source of methane emissions. These programs reduce GHG emissions and support the state’s 75 percent solid waste recycling goal.” The California Association of Sanitation Agences (CASA) reports that Gov. Brown plans to use a total of $850 million of cap and trade auction revenues under his “Cap and Trade Expenditure Plan” to promote greenhouse gas reductions (the $30 million is part of that overall $850 million). Almost a third ($300 million) would be allocated for the California High Speed Rail Authority/CalTrans, $100 million to repay cap and trade funds borrowed in last year’s budget and $200 million for low carbon transportation. The Department of Food and Agriculture is being provided $20 million for “Agricultural Energy and Operational Efficiency” (dairy digesters).
“This funding will accelerate the development of renewable energy and fuels from materials such as food scraps, fats and oils, and other organic waste,” said Shawn Garvey, Chair of the Bioenergy Association of California. “Transportation fuels from organic waste are some of the lowest carbon fuels available.”
Californians Against Waste notes that making new products from recycled materials not only reduces the carbon impact of California’s manufacturing sector, these multiple recycling and composting industries have a demonstrated track record of putting Californians to work, producing twice the environmental benefit when compared to disposal of the same materials. “To meet our climate goals, we need to take the millions of tons of stuff we continue to throw away and return it to the economy as manufacturing inputs and sources of clean energy and sustainable agriculture,” noted Mark Murray, CAW’s Executive Director.
CASA explains that with the budget released, the Legislature is now tasked with combing through each proposal in the Budget subcommittee process, set to begin in March. “Both houses will present their versions of the budget to the full Budget Conference Committee, where differences will be hammered out by a small select group of legislators chosen by Senate and Assembly leadership,” notes CASA. “The deadline for the Legislature to pass and submit a budget to the Governor is June 15, 2014.”
Sierra Nevada Brewing Reaches 99.8% Waste Diversion
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California has become the first business in the nation to receive the US Zero Waste Business Council’s (USZWBC) top honor, a platinum certification, for effectively diverting 99.8 percent of the waste the company generates. A total of 51,414 tons of solid waste were diverted from landfill and incineration, saving the company $5.4 million in disposal costs and adding $903,308 in 2012 revenue. Spent brewers grain represents the bulk of what is diverted, and contributes to the revenue stream. The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) sets the standards for what a business can do to become “zero waste,” and requires a minimum diversion rate of 90 percent to be considered for a certified program (see “Get Zero Waste Certified!,” July 2013). According to the USZWBC, the brewery has exceeded that minimum by 9.8 percent, and in doing so has also avoided emitting 11,812 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Sierra Nevada has implemented policies to reduce the creation of waste and to reuse what is created. All single-sided printer paper is collected and reused for employee notepads, and employees are given a water bottle and a reusable bag when they join the staff to help them form the habit of reuse. Organic waste generated at the brewery and restaurant is processed in a HotRot composter. In 2012, the HotRot unit handled 261 tons of organic material, producing compost that was used on the company’s estate hop field, barley field, restaurant garden and employee garden.