October 25, 2005 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle October 2005, Vol. 46, No.10, p. 6

The coastal region of Texas is home to 50 percent of U.S. chemical production capacity – and was much in the news as Hurricane Rita bore down on the region. The Freeport area hosts one of the largest clusters of chemical companies in the U.S. Companies operating 22 chemical production sites there – including Dow Chemical, BASF and Schenectady International – produce 131 variations of chemicals and generated 605 million pounds of chemical waste in 2003, the last year such data was available from the EPA Toxic Release Inventory. Said the research director for the National Environmental Trust: “A lot of the planning that went on in the past was with the thought that even a Category 3 storm is a once-in-100-year event. And we’re finding that’s not really the case anymore. Whatever their plans are, they may or may not be adequate.”
About the Katrina cleanup, waste professionals for Louisiana and Mississippi estimated that the number could be over 100 million cubic yards of debris that would be collected, processed and disposed in the coming months. Special sessions at the BioCycle Southeast Conference 2005 will focus on Contamination Cleanup and Storm and Demolition Debris. A panel of researchers and practitioners will evaluate options to compost contaminated soils, sediments, sludge and ground storm debris. See the complete agenda for the Nov. 13-16, 2005 Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina on pages 15-17 of this issue.
Gypsum wallboard (drywall) represents 20 percent of waste generated during construction of new commercial and residential sites – with most going into landfills. State policies are now changing the route. Last October, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved a Low Hazard Grant of Exemption that allows builders and contractors to store, process and landspread waste gypsum wallboard as a soil amendment. Since gypsum consists of about 20 percent calcium and 15 percent sulfur (both essential plant nutrients), grinding and landspreading drywall cuts disposal costs and supplies a valuable fertilizer. The Exemption lists these steps:
First, a formal exemption from DNR needs to be obtained by submitting a letter and paying the permit fee; Scrap drywall must be segregated on-site and stored to minimize rainwater runoff; Drywall needs to be ground to a size that allows even distribution; Application rate for landspreading will be based on sulfate content of field and crop needs; Ground drywall will be applied in accordance with soil and agronomic nutrient requirements.
A 1999 report from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that, in 2005, approximately 66 percent of the estimated 7.6 million dry tons of municipal wastewater biosolids generated would be recycled to soils. That estimate was based on data from several surveys conducted in the mid- to late-1990s by AMSA (now the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, NACWA), the Water Environment Federation, U. S. EPA, and BioCycle. Now it’s ten years later and trends have changed since EPA made its estimates. The last nationwide survey efforts focused on use and disposal data were BioCycle’s in 2000 and an EPA/states effort in 2001 – based on data from 2000 or before.
Recognizing the need for an update, EPA funded a proposal for a survey through a Water Quality Cooperative Agreement through U. S. EPA’s Office of Water, with in-kind contributions from project partners. This “Nationwide Biosolids Use and Disposal Survey” is a joint project of the New England Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA), BioCycle, the Northwest Biosolids Management Association (NBMA), and states’ coordinator Greg Kester of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI-DNR) – with key assistance from NACWA and many others. The survey project, which currently is assessing data needs and availability, aims to improve understanding of how biosolids, sludge and septage are managed on the nationwide, state, and local levels. Methods used in the collection of this data will build on past efforts. The project team plans to produce a documented, replicable protocol for future repetitions of this study, so as to ensure quality data collection over time that is useful for understanding trends. Some of the professionals involved in sewage sludge, biosolids, and septage management will be asked to complete surveys and provide data this fall and winter as the project team collects 2004 data. The final report is planned for release late in 2006. For more information, contact Ned Beecher at NEBRA or Nora Goldstein at BioCycle (
“We’ve created a one-stop convenient location for professional landscapers… a place where they can drop off green waste, buy greenscapes, irrigation supplies, and even gloves and a raincoat,” explained Beng Leong Ooi, one of the owners of Organic Recycling Inc. (ORI), a composting company based in Tappan, New York. The idea to sell more than compost and mulch at ORI’s 30-acre compost facility was based on the fact that to strengthen and ensure a long-term, sustainable outlet for compost and mulch sales, ORI had to go the extra yard and create a quality status for products. A diversified product line was the perfect solution.
The company expanded its horticultural customer base by providing a consistent demand for the compost and mulches produced from two other nearby compost facilities it manages, as well as maintaining a concerted focus on developing products from natural, clean feedstocks. Both aged and colored mulches are offered, and landscape products such as shrubs, flowers, seeds, decorative rocks, paving stones, and tools are also available to customers. To go one step further and guarantee landscapers can accomplish everything they need to do in one stop, ORI has expanded its front-end service and accepts for tipping leaves, grass, mixed garden debris, brush, sod, root balls and all commingled landscape organics. Another program that keeps landscapers coming back is the facility’s educational workshops, which range from creating patios from paving stones and building retaining walls to pesticide management and basic agronomic principles. Although occasionally a landscaper will bring a residential customer to pick out materials for a project, the facility is not open to the public, which Beng feels can interference with the service they offer to commercial clients.
Through years of development, Beng and ORI have developed a formula that works. “Compost and mulch sales have never been better, landscapers maximize their own service and profits, and the compost site has matured into a model facility that provides an insightful, comprehensive approach to marketing organics, sustaining other operations in the region and safeguarding the future success of composting in Rockland County, New York,” he says.
The National Biodiesel Board reported on the number of states that have passed significant legislation to encourage production and use of biodiesel. Its list included:
Arkansas – Passed a fund granting up to $.10/gallon for biodiesel producers; Hawaii – Lowered state excise tax for biodiesel blends; Illinois – Enacted a partial state sales tax exemption for biodiesel blends from B1-B10 and a full exemption for B10-B100, through 2013; Indiana – Provided an expansion of state tax credits for biodiesel producers, blenders, and retailers; Minnesota – Implemented a statewide initiative that blends two percent biodiesel throughout its entire diesel fuel supply; Missouri – Qualified biodiesel producers are eligible for a monthly $.30/gallon grant for the first 15 mm gallons produced annually; Pennsylvania – Developed an Alternative Fuels Incentive Fund to provide grants to schools, municipalities, political subdivisions, etc. for including incremental purchase costs of B100 and B20; Texas – Provides a production incentive grant of a net 16.8 cents per gallon for 18 million gallons per year. Visit
The Warmer Bulletin (Issue 101) published in the United Kingdom by residua Ltd. and edited by Kit Strange reports on a 30-year biowaste management strategy for the Belgium Province of Luxembourg and 11 neighboring authorities (known as Idelux). Regarding biodegradable waste (“biowaste”), the composting of kitchen and green residuals is based on the premise that control of risks from household kitchens up to spreading on farm soils requires a “product” approach instead of a “waste” approach. Upstream and downstream measures include public awareness about waste prevention, selective collection systems, and monitoring compost quality. Capture of biowaste is estimated to be 40 kg/person/year. The amount collected in 2004 amounted to 10,346 metric tons.
The Walloon Region, writes Warmer Bulletin, provides local authorities with a subsidy of 32.25 euros (€) per ton for providing collection of putrescible organics. Garden organics are collected at any of 52 civic amenity sites and then sent to two compost facilities that use turned windrows. Kitchen residuals collected door to door are composted in a covered area to minimize odors, but will soon use a forced aeration system. Garden waste is shredded and composted using turned windrows in open air. Generally it takes close to 12 weeks to produce a quality compost. Finished product is then transferred as follows:
For kitchen waste – to a “refining installation” where it goes through a sieving process – using a rotating sieve with an 8 mm mesh to eliminate nonbiodegradables, then “densitometric” sieving to remove any heavy particles; For green waste – to a mobile filtering drum with a 25 mm mesh. A laboratory conducts phytotoxicity and maturity tests (called “Rottegrade”) at different stages of compost development.
If laboratory analyses show compliance, (more than 90 percent complies), Idelux organizes commercial distribution. If a batch does not meet standards, it is used as landfill cover. Three categories of compost products are: Grade A Urban Compost – made from biodegradable material collected through door-to-door programs; Grade B Urban Compost – made from mixed waste; Green Waste Compost – made from green waste collected at civic amenity sites. Sums up the Warmer Bulletin report: “Operation does not make a profit, but all the compost is sold for a price. In 2004, 26,658 metric tons of product brought € 154,800 of revenue.”
… “The two compost separation sites are soon to be modernized within a program that involves the renovation of the buildings, the odor management system, and the change to a forced- and monitored-aeration system. An anaerobic digestion unit (with an annual capacity of 30,000 metric tons) for organic materials which have been collected selectively, will be constructed soon. This technology will allow the recovery not just of the solid fraction – digestate – which could then be composted, but also of the methane generated.”
Published by The Composting Association of the United Kingdom, A Guide to Anaerobic Digestion features a Directory of Systems that provides excellent information from leading suppliers of AD technology. Key generic system parameters include these factors: Is the system mesophilic or thermophilic in its temperature range? Does it operate using dry or wet solids phases? Is it a single stage, two-stage, or multistage process? Is the system a batch or continuous feed operation? The following companies (with emails) are listed in the UK Composting Association Guide:
Active Compost Limited ( – Works in association with Kompogas of Switzerland; Spanning small to large-scale installations – typically treating 12,000 to 25,000 tons/year; Installations include source segregated feedstock as well as organic fraction of MBT plants; Process uses horizontal plug-flow reactor with low-speed agitation. Operational sites are at Roppen, near Innsbruck, Austria; Oetwil near Zurich, Switzerland; Passau, Germany and Rioja, Spain.
Alkane Biogas Ltd. ( – Part of the Alkane Energy p/c group, which specializes in methane gas capture and utilization; New projects in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the UK, with a reference plant listed at Fivemiletown, Northern Ireland; Another biogas installation includes the Holsworthy plant in Devon, UK.
ArrowBio ( – Developed for treatment of MSW and adaptable to other organic streams; Comprises two different, but integrated phases – front end hydro-mechanically separates recyclable elements while back end is a UASB AD process; First reference plant is now decommissioned, having treated 11 to 33 tons of MSW daily in Hadera, Israel; Since 2003, commercial systems have been operating in Tel Aviv, Israel; Distributor in UK is Oaktech Environmental.
Biogas-Nord ( – (Supplier of system toured at the BioCycle Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling Conference last month at the Vir-Clar Farm in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.) Generally proposes installation of a two phase digestion system; both digesters fully mixed and operated in mesophilic or thermophilic temperature range; Standing cylinders made of reinforced concrete; Digesters covered with double membrane; Feedstocks include animal manures, turkey waste and fatty waste.
Bioplex Ltd ( – Portagester is a two stage, high solids, multivessel, mobile and modular AD; Uses a single or multiple thermophilic anaerobic first stage or phase with pasteurized feedstock; Portagester can collect feedstock, digest contents and transport treated material to end user; Reference plants include Rathdowney, Ireland for catering and retail waste; and Derry for source separated MSW.
Greenfinch Ltd. ( – The technology is based on experience in design of prefabricated sewage sludge digesters, on-farm biogas plants in Scotland, and R&D with household kitchen residuals, supermarket waste, etc.; Reference plants include seven on-farm biogas plants in Scotland, 5,000 ton/year biowaste for source separated organics in South Shropshire.
Haase Energietechnik AG (UK distributor is Clarke Energy Ltd. – Supplier of process technologies for gas engineering, water and waste treatment that include mechanical-biological treatment of residual waste biogas plants; Reference plants are located at Hamburg-Bergerdorf, Leon, Spain, Sistin biogas plant and Altenholz; Processes include dry, wet and mesophilic.
(The November, 2005 BioCycle issue will list other European suppliers of anaerobic digestion systems.)

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