August 18, 2005 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle August 2005, Vol. 46, No. 8, p. 6

According to the June 2005 Warmer Bulletin, a survey by Arthur D. Little, sheds light on markets for green waste compost, predicting that the highest growth in demand for organic matter products over the next three years will continue to be for green waste compost. Users also predict that demand for all organic matter products will increase, with the exception of peat and peat-based products. The Warmer Bulletin (www. also notes that total UK demand for green waste compost is estimated at 876,000 cubic meters in 2004-05 and 926,000 cu m in 2007-08. Total demand for organic matter is forecasted at up to 3,623,000 cu m in 2007 08. Delivered prices for green waste compost are shown to be relatively stable at L15/cu m for 2004-05 ($26.50).
Adds the report which is currently available from the UK agency Waste and Resources Action Programme ( The largest market for organic matter in the landscaping sector is for use in mulching, planting and bedding. Just for these applications, demand is about 2.7 million cu m (15 million tonnes) per year. Barriers to increased use are availability, cost, and quality/consistency.
As described in BioCycle articles in this issue, bioremediation is used for contaminated soils at brownfields and other environmentally impacted sites. It is a treatment process where microorganisms use the contaminants as a source of carbon and energy, yielding by-products of carbon dioxide and water. A report written by David Lowry and Chad Hurley describes how worm castings produced by vermiculture – with its high bacterial-fungal populations – were used to encourage synergism between bacteria and fungi for mineralization of poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are hydrocarbon compounds with multiple benzene rings, and are typical components of asphalts, fuels, oils and greases. “The least degradable fraction of PAH contaminants in soils is generally subject to the most stringent cleanup standards,” the authors write. Lowry is the Environmental Manager for Triad Industries of Wood River, Illinois, Hurley is Operations Manager for New Horizon Organics in Jerseyville, Illinois which produces the vermicompost used in the pilot project.
Reported results showed that although appreciable bacteria biomass was present prior to addition of vermicompost, “bacterial biomass was nearly dormant and did not become active until addition of the vermicompost. … Thirty days following addition of vermicompost, both total and active fungal biomass had increased. Active bacteria, biomass also increased, but total bacteria biomass remained virtually unchanged. … One year following the initial application, total and active biomass for both bacteria and fungi continued to be significantly high. The biomass values obtained one year after application suggest that one application of the amendment (vermicompost) is sufficient to sustain ongoing bioremediation.”
Based on the effectiveness of the trial, New Horizon Organics is considering using its vermiculture products (both solid vermicomposts and liquid inoculants) to remediate other sites contaminated with hazardous compounds including petachlorophenol and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
In 2003, almost 25 percent of all municipal solid waste in the U.S. crossed state lines for disposal in landfills or incinerators. As an example, each day trains, trucks (and soon barges) carry 50,000 tons of trash from New York City to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and South Carolina. Daily loads of more than 1,300 tons of the city’s waste go to a landfill 130 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Fox Township, Elk County. Says a township supervisor in the area who worries that the protective liners won’t hold up forever. “My concern is that 50, 60 or 70 years from now, they’ll be saying: ‘What were those guys thinking, allowing something like this to be built in this community?'” More data on disposal/utilization trends will be published in the next edition of the BioCycle State of Garbage in America report.
Some 200,000 tons of rubbish were buried at a municipal landfill located an hour south of Dublin, Ireland – and the Irish Sea is exposing the remnants of hundreds of blue, black and yellow trash bags. “Now that the dump is fading into the sea,” reports the New York Times, “the mess on the beach has become symbolic … of this tiny island nation’s historic inability to deal with its garbage.” It’s estimated that up to one million tons of waste (15 percent of the national total) disappear illegally each year.
But another report from the Resource Recovery Forum indicates big changes that will double the recycling infrastructure in the Dublin region to 59 percent and reduce landfilling to 16 percent. Four Dublin local authorities are spending over $30 million annually on new recycling centers and distributing green bins for dry recyclables. Says Matt Twomey, Dublin recycling chairman: “We’re delighted with the huge progress made. Central composting facilities will be next to come on stream, with two new plants to be developed. We will be introducing a separate collection and biological treatment of organic waste from households and business, with the aim of producing clean, high quality compost.”
The USDA Rural Development office in mid-July announced that up to an estimated $200 million in guaranteed loan funds would be available for investments in renewable energy programs by agriculture producers and rural small businesses. The funds will be available to support a wide range of technologies encompassing biomass (including anaerobic digesters), geothermal, hydrogen, solar, wind as well as energy efficiency improvements. For details, visit the USDA website at
At about the same time, the California Department of Conservation (DOC) announced the availability of $10 million in loan guarantees to support new and expanded recycling and reuse of plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers. This would include recycling centers, improvement of existing facilities, as well as manufacturers of products made from recycled material. Through this program, DOC can provide guarantees to qualified lending institutions to cover 75 to 85 percent of losses incurred if an approved recycling project is unable to repay a loan. For more information about DOC programs, visit:
A communication from the Piedmont Biofuels cooperative in Pittsboro, North Carolina explains how its biodiesel fuel is made and marketed – also how a new tank has been built behind the Carrboro, NC Public Works Department that holds B100, a form of biodiesel made from converted vegetable oil. Biodiesel advocates tout its advantages – burns cleaner, releases fewer toxins into the air, is renewable, nonflammable and nontoxic, and also helps engines. Here’s some of the data provided by Piedmont (they can be contacted at (919) 321-8260):
“We make our own biodiesel fuel in a 75-gallon batch reactor located at our refinery in Chatham County where we use methanol, potassium hydroxide and waste vegetable oil collected at local restaurants. We produce under 250,000 gallons per year. We sell reactors, since local, microscale biodiesel production and consumption makes sound environmental, economic and social sense. We consult, design and build small biodiesel reactors training our customers on how to use them properly. We provide straight vegetable oil conversion kits and installation services for any commercial kit like Elsbett, Greasel, Grasecar or Neoteric. We continue to refine techniques for bulk fats and oils handling and filtration.”
“Biodiesel is most often used as on-road fuel, off-road fuel, heating oil and marine boating fuel. We deliver biodiesel to our co-op members from our mobile retail pump on the back of a 1,600 gallon tank truck or from a handful of pumps in the ‘triangle’ area. The mobile retail pump can fill any fuel storage container – vehicle gas tanks, 5 gallon portable carboys, or any bulk storage container.” At the Sept. 12-14, 2005 BioCycle Conference on RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM ORGANICS RECYCLING Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, several sessions will report on “Improving Biodiesel Production.” For details, check the Conference agenda in this issue on pages 15-17.
In her book, Liquid Gold, published last year, author Carol Steinfeld provides useful information on utilizing some of the 90 million-plus gallons of urine excreted daily in the U.S. – instead of flushing it to wastewater treatment plants or to septic systems. Her advice in the 88-page text includes the following: Safe methods for using urine to nourish plants are well documented, particularly in Sweden. Urine is typically sterile before it leaves the body in healthy individuals, and using your own urine cannot give you a disease that you do not already have. “However, it is important to take the precautions noted in this book,” she advises.
Ways to inactivate pathogens that may be present include time, composting, heat, and adding high-alkaline additives such as lime and wood ash. To use urine safely to fertilize plants for minimal odors and maximum nutrients, Steinfeld suggests composting it; combining it with graywater in an aerobic garden bed; or diluting and applying directly to plants.
The text includes tips for keeping urine separate, profiles of its use in gardens and farms, and descriptions of equipment with names like Ekologen toilets, Ecovita, Separett and Duravit dry urinals.
Steinfeld is coauthor of other books such as The Composting Toilet System and Reusing the Resource. Her website can be visited at: Architect Malcolm Wells did the illustrations for Liquid Gold, which was published by Green Frigate Books, PO Box 461, Sheffield, Vermont 05866.
By the end of 2005, about 130 million cell phones will be discarded annually in the U.S. – with 75 percent going to landfills. Now a Louisville, Kentucky company called Eco-Cell is partnering with zoos across North America to raise funds for their conservation programs while protecting the environment. The idea is for people to take old cell phones to collection boxes at the zoo which then sends them to Eco-Cell where they will be refurbished and sold to low income, first-time users in Latin America. Currently, Eco-Cell is reported to be working with 300 organizations – including 30 zoos from Denver and Philadelphia to Phoenix and Cleveland. For more information, visit:

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