February 17, 2006 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle February 2006, Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 6

The 22nd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference – March 20-22, 2006 in Portland, Oregon – is perhaps the most cutting edge event in the world of composting, organics recycling and the renewable energy connections. The conference agenda reflects the critical role that people and companies managing the organic fraction of the waste stream play in building sustainable cities and communities. That role opens up a host of exciting project development, investment and research opportunities. A broad spectrum of organizations are cosponsoring this event, including the Energy Trust Of Oregon, the Portland Office Of Sustainable Development, Metro regional government, the Oregon Departments of Energy and Environmental Quality, the Washington Organic Recycling Council, the Northwest Biosolids Management Association, Norcal Waste Systems and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Over 50 speakers will address what it takes to achieve sustainable cities and communities by focusing on these topics: Organics recycling and future of MSW management; Municipal agencies accelerate composting; Anaerobic digestion of MSW organics; Sustainable steps to energy independence with organics recovery; Storm water management/compost use; Strategies to optimize compost facility success; Crop connections to energy recovery; Expanding markets for recycled organics; and Food residuals recycling strategies. The final agenda appears on pages 15-17 of this issue. And conference activity updates and speaker profiles can be found on the West Coast Conference page of our website –
On Wednesday, March 22nd, the full-day field trip starts with morning tours of the City of Portland’s Sunderland Yard, which composts yard trimmings and recycles asphalt and other highway materials; the Portland Food Bank, a nonprofit agency involved in food recovery and nonedible food composting; and the ReBuilding Center, a marketplace for deconstructed and recycled building materials. In the afternoon, the Portland Office of Sustainable Development has put together an amazing walking tour of a host of innovative projects and installations throughout the city. The tour will feature innovative storm water management tools such as green roofs, bioswales and rain harvesting, state-of-the-art green buildings with energy and water conservation innovations, and native plant gardens in community parks.
In addition to the formal meeting sessions and the Wednesday tour, a variety of networking and social events are planned. They start with BioCycle’s reception on Monday evening, March 20th, in the exhibition hall. Winners of prizes provided by vendors in the exhibit hall are announced during the reception. Early Tuesday morning, participants can join in a fun run (and a bit slower paced walk) along the banks of the nearby Willamette River. That evening, the Washington Organic Recycling Council and the Composting Council of Oregon are hosting a “Chat and Chow” at a nearby restaurant, providing an opportunity to network, socialize and win prizes in the councils’ raffle. Plans are in the works for a Sunday evening get-together for conference participants. Details on all events will be posted on the BioCycle conference page of the website.
Latest research trials commissioned by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) of the United Kingdom have confirmed the effectiveness of compost compared with commercial topdressing products. WRAP had commissioned the Sports Turf Research Institute to investigate the impact of compost on turf maintenance during 2005. Technical trials provided the bases for evaluating responses to different turf types, including low maintenance fairways; close mown golf green; preventing over-acidification negative effects; heavy wear situations, etc. Concluded Dr. David Lawson, a senior researcher with the Institute: “We were really encouraged by the results of these trials. On football fairways in particular, compost supported fast growth, great color and wearability – results that all demonstrate how compost will be valuable to the groundsman or greenkeeper.” Added Louise Hollingworth, Organics Technical Manager at WRAP Organics: “While we had reams of positive comments from groundsmen who have used compost, we recognized the importance of verification of the benefit testing. We have been very encouraged by the results and believe they will create more confidence in sports turf professionals to use compost.”
Reported in the Growing Heap, journal of Britain’s Community Composting Network, edited by Cath Kibbler, the Integrated Composting Program (ICP) completed its analysis of methods for collection of organic residuals, setting up different composting facilities, and investigating markets for the finished product. Key findings of the seven projects were reported as follows:
The ICP trialed an innovative system using specially designed aerobic bins with biodegradable removable bags, to be a great success with up to 5.2 kg/household/week of organics diverted from the residual stream;
Separating organic waste from retail outlets was shown to be difficult because of the high turnover of staff;
Constructing a high quality compost site was shown to be possible in as little as eight months from the outline proposal;
Setting up composting schemes on farms and using the product as a soil improver proved to be successful;
A scheme in Scotland proved there was a market for the 500 tonnes per annum produced from the local waste stream. Also demonstrated were ways to encourage local community participation;
A project demonstrated the benefits of compost use in the establishment of wildflower meadows resulting in increased yields and greater diversity in flower species overall.
What is called a “first-in-the-nation” law – requiring manufacturers of televisions and computer monitors to pay to recycle and discard products – went into effect in Maine in mid-January. The law – reflecting an approach taken in Europe and Japan – requires that makers must pay costs of sending electronics to recycling centers where toxic materials such as lead and mercury are removed. The Maine law bills manufacturers directly for the costs. Elsewhere in the U.S., California requires customers to pay a disposal fee when buying an appliance, while Maryland imposes registration fees on computer makers which are disbursed to municipalities.
According to an Associated Press account, five consolidators have been approved by Maine to collect the “e-waste,” send it to recyclers and bill manufacturers. TVs and older computer monitors contain between four and eight pounds of lead, along with other toxic materials, and flat-screen monitors contains mercury, reports the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The new legislation is also designed to get manufacturers to use less toxics while designing products that lend themselves to recycling.
The Sun Grant Initiative was funded in 2005 through the Department of Transportation for approximately $12 million per year over the next four years. It’s a national program coordinated through the land grant universities and organized as a network of five regional centers plus the National Biodiesel Board. Sun Grant is charged with making significant advances toward building a biobased economy. The Western Region includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the U.S. Pacific Island commonwealth. The Western Region expects to release its first Request for Proposals by spring of 2006.
The mission of the Sun Grant Initiative is to: 1) Enhance national energy security through development, distribution and implementation of biobased energy technologies; 2) Promote diversification in and the environmental sustainability of, agricultural production in the United States through biobased energy and products technologies; 3) Promote economic diversification in rural areas of the United States through biobased energy and product technologies; and 4) Enhance the efficiency of bioenergy and biomass research and development programs through improved coordination and collaboration between government agencies, federal laboratories and colleges and universities.
A study in the Journal of Environmental Quality reveals the potential human health risks associated with eating fresh vegetables grown in soil that has been amended with manure that contains antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently added to conventional animal feed as a supplement, and any antibiotics that are not absorbed may end up in the manure. Researchers who participated in this study conducted greenhouse studies on three test crops: green onions, corn and cabbage. All three crops absorbed small concentrations of the antibiotic chlortetracycline, but not tylosin. The authors warned that risks may be greater for people who are allergic to antibiotics.
In Kota Kinabalu, in the state of Sabah, the Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Happy Soil Sdn Bhd propose to compost much of the 250 tons of refuse generated daily – working with hotels, schools, town councils and haulers. A joint study by the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) and Danish Cooperation for the Environment reports that 45 percent of the waste stream consists of organic materials. After shredding residuals, the mix is placed in the rotating drum of composters. “The zero waste program is part of our waste minimization effort on campus,” says Dr. Ideris Zakaria, dean of the engineering school. “In Sabah, this is the first such effort that is being undertaken, and it is still in its infancy. We believe we have the capacity to develop and improve the technology.”
Earlier this month, Biodiesel Industries, Inc. was awarded Patent 6,979,426 covering production of biodiesel fuel using a modular production unit (MPU) incorporated onto a single platform. “Now we have a legally protected right to this technology and an important milestone,” says Russell Teall, founder of Biodiesel Industries based in Santa Barbara, California. “In this industry, there is a big difference between practical operational experience and just having a set of plans on paper.”
The advantage of the new design is that it is faster and less expensive to prefabricate biodiesel production equipment at a central location and then deploy it to the area where it will be operated. Another key feature of the MPU is that it can process a wide variety of feedstocks into biodiesel. Feedstocks include virgin, crude and recycled vegetable oils and animal fats, such as soy, canola, mustard, rapeseed, fruit pits, cotton, palm, coconut, poultry fat, recycled fryer oil and grease trap materials. The MPU now being expanded at the Naval Base in Ventura County, California will have a three million gallon per year capacity and will only occupy a 65 feet by 75 feet area.
This technology has already been incorporated into four operating commercial facilities in California, Colorado, Texas and Australia. The next generation MPU is being developed for a facility in Detroit in collaboration with NextEnergy, DaimlerChrysler, Bosch and the U.S. Army. Federal and state legislation is producing strong incentives to use biodiesel.
Under the headline, “The Color of Recycling,” a recent Wall Street Journal article described companies that range from charging customers to collect old CDs, to a service that recoats cookware. They include: GreenDisk, a Seattle-based company, that charges $29.95 to pick up and recycle discarded electronics devices into office supplies; FryPan Man in Oregon that charges $17 to $36 per recoat job, from waffle irons to family heirloom pots; and Technotrash Cans from GreenDisk that make recycling CDs and computer accessories more available to residents in multifamily buildings.
On the nonprofit side, subscribers to can donate, request or exchange items via an online message board, then arrange for pick up.

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