December 25, 2005 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle December 2005, Vol. 46, No. 12, p. 6

The agenda for the BioCycle West Coast Conference to be held March 20-22, 2006 in Portland, Oregon is coming together extremely well, as major themes will stress composting breakthroughs, producing renewable power from biomass, and building sustainable cities, communities and Benterprises. We are working closely with key people in the Northwest, and will report specific topics in the next issue of BioCycle. This letter from Peter Moulton of Climate Solutions illustrates the vitality underway: “Oregon is a great model for digester funding. Oregon NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA) has agreed to put $250,000 toward Oregon digesters in 2006. Up to $80,000 is available per project, with an RFP in early 2006. NRCS also has its new West National Tech Support Center in Portland.”
Two statewide bioenergy inventories are underway. Washington State University will include biopower production estimates made by converting dry tonnage through digestion; Energy Trust of Oregon – a Conference cosponsor – has recently commissioned a two-phase statewide biomass assessment. Commercial digester projects are underway in King County, and the Tillamook central digesters will be discussed.
In the area of composting, latest developments will be reported from Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and other major projects on the West Coast. Tune in next month.
The need to better control mercury pollution from contaminating air and water is leading to stronger alternative measures to eliminate emissions. Involved in developing alternatives are such groups as the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials. Coal-fired power plants in the U.S. are estimated to emit approximately 48 tons of mercury annually; 45 states have issued fish advisories, warning residents about mercury contamination in their waters. Last March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the first federal rules to control mercury from power plants. Until that time, notes a report in The New York Times, plants had been exempt from federal standards for sources of toxic emissions. Rules require a 21 percent reduction in mercury emissions within five years and a reduction of 70 percent by 2018. One alternative plan is set to achieve reductions of at least 80 percent by 2008. “Almost everybody agrees that the federal mercury control program is severely flawed,” declares Bill Becker, executive director of the two groups, who refers to the alternatives as technologically feasible and cost-effective compared to the EPA plan. In one of the proposed options, power plants would be required to achieve reductions up to 80 percent by 2008 and up to 95 percent by 2012; the second option would require up to 95 percent reductions by 2008. Our goal is to “help states find a middle ground that achieves more aggressive emission reductions,” sums up Becker.
The United Kingdom Composting Association set up its Annual Awards in 2001 to recognize the work of compost producers to market their products and to promote the benefits of composting and compost. At its Awards Dinner on Nov. 30, 2005, the following honors were given: White Moss Horticulture – following customer demand for reduced peat products, the company did extensive process research which led to the opening of the UK’s largest composting facility dedicated to media production. Increased compost sales were reported in both retail and professional sectors; Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) for its Sort It! initiative. Over 90,000 households are now served, and by next June 152,000 households will have weekly food residuals and recycling collections. Recycling rates have risen from 14 percent to over 50 percent as SWP spread its separate collection of food residuals over a large area; Earth Tech UK – its commercial scale anaerobic digester enables the Western Isles to develop its recycling and composting collection infrastructure. Initially, the plant will mainly treat the organic fraction of the residual waste stream, but the process will be adapted to accept more source separated food wastes as well as commercial residuals from the local fishing industry. Products will be used in land restoration and to generate electricity for the island; Cambridgeshire Composting Partnership – consists of the County and District Councils, HDRA and the National Trust’s Black Gold Project, which promoted composting on all levels of the public, private and community sectors. The partnership increased householder participation in Cambridgeshire recycling from 29 to 44 percent over the past 18 months; Aberdeen Forward – the Best Community Initiative was presented to this company for its active role in improving the way waste is managed in Aberdeen City. Working with the City Council, Aberdeen Forward developed a network of small-scale community composting sites which provided social benefits for young homeless people. Judges were particularly impressed with how the firm engaged the community by encouraging a high level of interaction.
Some organic producers have requested that the National Organic Program (NOP) reconsider classification of dehydrated manure (such as pelleted manure) as raw manure. This topic – based on a position paper written by Barbara Bellows and Brian Baker – appears in the Fall 2005 issue of OMRI Update, published by the Organic Materials Review Institute. Currently, they explain, only manure composted according to specifications in 7 CFR 205.203 can be applied during the growing season. All other manure products are considered to be raw manure and cannot be applied during the growing season. Instead, these products must be applied 90 or 120 days prior to harvest, depending on whether the edible portion of the crop is in contact with the soil. Compost methods outlined in the 7 CFR section are based on EPA 40 CFR 503 regulations for treatment of biosolids.
After reviewing alternative treatments, the authors conclude: Based on literature reviewed, it is recommended that the NOP allow for use of dehydrated manure products during the growing season if their production methods meet the time and temperature requirements provided in the US EPA 503 Rule. … However, producers should recognize that dehydrated manure products are not sufficient for an organic soil building program because the nutrients are less stable and exhibit a lower biological activity than compost. (For the full text of the report by Bellows and Baker, go to
Using a “nanomanipulation” process, a Danish company can make crumb rubber products that do not have the characteristic odor accompanying recycled rubber, reports Scrap Tire News. Nanon A/S manager Thomas Christensen explains the company’s Super-Rubber is made by washing the rubber particles in a carbon dioxide environment. Christensen estimates that about 600 new sports arenas in Europe had artificial grass laid in 2004. In addition, a new generation of artificial turfs were approved for international soccer matches. “Modern artificial grass turfs are made of artificial blades of grass, sand and layer of rubber granules,” adds Christensen. A typical artificial grass turf requires around 100 tons of rubber, which by using the new technology means this amount can be replaced with recycled rubber from about 22,000 old car tires.
The advanced nanotechnology has the additional advantage of reducing the content of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which are harmful to groundwater when they leak. The technology uses a coating process and 2-in-l cleaning and impregnation method with CO2 solvent. Christensen also mentions that the European Union has supported the project with a grant of EUR 1.2 million, given to four companies: SCF Technologies of Denmark – pilot production and setting up complete facilities; Natex of Austria – process knowledge, equipment and production using the Super Critical Fluid Extraction Technology; German/Swedish company Linde – production of industrial gases; Nanon A/S of Denmark as project leader with rights to the technology.
A report in Cempre News demonstrates the major recycling advances in Brazil in the recovery of plastics which has now reached 16.5 percent “surpassed only by Germany (31. 1 percent) and Austria ( 19.1 percent).” Salvaged material is transformed into granules for manufacture of new product. A recent study shows that the plastics recycling industry in Brazil is composed of about 490 businesses, 80 percent concentrated in the southeastern region. Their total sales are around R$1. 22 billion (one real equals 0.45 cents U.S.), generating 11,500 direct jobs. Companies have the capacity to recycle 1.05 million metric tons per year, consuming 777,000 tons of materials and producing 703,000 tons of recycled plastics.
As explained in the latest issue of Compost Science & Utilization by two engineers at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, a biotoilet is a composting toilet that uses sawdust as a matrix for bioconversion of human ex-creta. Its goal is to accelerate decomposition, optimize efficiency while minimizing potential environmental problems. The authors explain that moisture content affects biodegradation rates, serving as a key factor for setting criteria for proper operation. Their results showed that composting is characterized by different biological responses of microorganisms depending on the moisture content under which the process is conducted. At high moisture content, odors, anaerobic emissions, nitrite formation and increase of sulphate concentrations were detected. Keeping moisture content near 60 percent – or a little higher, but avoiding levels near or higher than 65 percent, ensures an optimum performance of the biotoilet system.
Optimum moisture content represents a tradeoff between moisture requirements of microorganisms and their simultaneous need for adequate oxygen supply. Water is the key ingredient that transports substances within the composting matrix and makes nutrients physically and chemically accessible to microbes.
The composting process in the biotoilet system differs from that in conventional composting systems. Understanding how the moisture content affects the rates of aerobic biodegradation of feces in the biotoilet reactor is a key factor for setting criteria for proper design and operation, and for achieving the system goals.
The topic of composting toilets will be covered in coming issues of BioCycle – who manufactures them, the principles and where they are being used. To get the latest issue of CS&U along with a full year’s subscription for $99 (reduced rate from the $129 price), call 610-967-4135 ext. 21 or e-mail: with your subscription order.

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