February 21, 2007 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle February 2007, Vol. 48, No. 2, p. 6

The theme of BioCycle’s 23rd Annual West Coast Conference – April 16-18, 2007 in San Diego, California – is “Sustainable Solutions In Action.” The opening plenary is a case in point. The session kicks off with Margo Reid Brown, Chair of the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Ms. Brown will discuss the role that organics recycling plays in the state’s recently adopted mandates for greenhouse gas reduction and in-state biofuels production. She also will highlight CIWMB staff activities related to sustainable landscapes, the partnership with CalTrans and other stakeholders to develop specifications for highway use of compost, and best management practices to minimize emissions from composting operations. Next, Delaine Eastin, an instructor at Mills College and formerly the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (as well as a state legislator) will provide an inspiring look at the Edible Schoolyard – how gardens at California schools are integrating nutrition, gardening, food scraps composting and hands-on learning.
The final speaker in the opening plenary is Ginger Garte, Senior Environmental Regulatory Analyst with Royal Caribbean International & Celebrity Cruises. As it turns out, Royal Caribbean is the world’s largest consumer of biodiesel. Ms. Garte will describe the steps that were necessary to modify the ships’ engines to burn biodiesel, and how the company continues to seek sources of the fuel. Other on-board sustainability initiatives include extensive recycling and wastewater treatment that yields potable water.
After the opening plenary, concurrent sessions get underway. The complete conference agenda can be found on pages 7-9 of this issue, as well as at Note that on Tuesday morning, April 17th, there will be a workshop session on the links between social marketing and organics recycling. Wesley Schultz, a national leader in applying the principles of social marketing to outreach campaigns for various environmental initiatives, along with Jennifer Tabanico (both professors in the Department of Psychology at California State University in San Marcos), will cover outreach tools and interventions that motivate environmental behavior. The practices and principles presented before the lunch break will then be integrated into Tuesday afternoon’s session, Building Participation In Residential Food Composting Programs. Tours on Wednesday, April 18th include the Miramar Greenery – the city of San Diego’s yard trimmings and food residuals composting site; the compost research and soil erosion control laboratories at San Diego State University – where there will be live demonstrations of compost BMP testing and analysis of air emissions from an active composting windrow; and a dairy in San Diego County that is operating an anaerobic digester with energy recovery. Check the West Coast Conference website regularly for tour updates and additional learning and networking opportunities.
In October, 2006, Cempre – an association of businesses in Brazil that promotes recycling – created a poster for the magazine Nova Escola, a monthly publication for teachers of basic education with a million readers all over the country. Entitled “A Rota do Lixo,” it deals with separate waste collection, industrial recycling and composting. The initiative is aimed at disseminating the importance of preserving nature for the planet’s future and winning over children as allies in promoting environmentally affirmative attitudes. “Schools need to take up the cause wholeheartedly. We know that many act as collection points for recyclable material. The partnership with Nova Escola is aimed at strengthening this process of awareness raising and stimulating discussion about waste in the classroom,” explains Cempre’s president Tadeu Boechat.
The full range of composting research throughout the world is evident in the latest issue of Compost Science & Utilization. As authors Paula Roberts, Gareth Edwards-Jones and David L. Jones from the United Kingdom explain: Interest in using earthworms for waste management has increased considerably in recent years and several studies have reported on the ability of earthworms to convert organic wastes such as sewage sludge, animal manures, vegetable wastes and crop residues into a viable organic soil amendment. Vermicomposting is a relatively low-cost method of treating organic wastes which exploit the ability of some species of earthworms to fragment waste residuals.
A second paper from researchers in Mexico discusses chemical characteristics of several vermicomposts. Transformation of organic matter (mineralization and humification) occurs through processes integrating the uninterrupted action of insects, annelids, fungi, actinomycetes and bacteria. The purpose of this study is to evaluate performance of Eisenia andrei as a compost-promoting organism in wastes from the southeast of Mexico, as well as to chemically characterize the vermicompost.
Another study – at North Carolina State University by John Classen, Mark Rice and Rhonda Sherman – demonstrates the usefulness of vermicompost in an agronomic setting. Specific objectives were to evaluate response of fresh and dry weight biomass of field turnips to the addition of vermicompost as well as its effect on volume of runoff and nutrients from field plots. Goals of this project were addressed using turnips because they are a cool weather crop that can be grown in spring and fall, thereby allowing two applications each year instead of one.
For those readers who would like to enter a trial subscription to Compost Science & Utilization at a special introductory one-year rate of $99 (four issues), e-mail Ann Miller at with your subscription order along with your mailing address. An invoice will be mailed with the first issue.
Three articles in the latest issue of In Business illustrate how the concept of opportunity fits well into enterprise formation. As the front cover asks: What do a broom bristle manufacturing plant, used cardboard boxes and salvaged plastic bottles filled with fertilizer have in common? The answer is The Business of Reuse. The first – “Creating Sustainability at a Chocolate Factory” by Molly Farrell Tucker – provides insights on how a Vermont building won LEED recognition. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design – a national standard developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for constructing energy-efficient, sustainable buildings. Founder Jim Chapman of Lake Champlain Chocolates had his employees in mind when he directed the renovations on the structure.
The second – “Getting Into The Big Box By Thinking Outside The Bin” by Cindy Rovins – explains how a firm that got its start as a business plan in a 2001 University competition has flourished into a company with 40 employees and $6 million sales. TerraCycle is a company achieving a new form (opportunity) of ecocapitalism: Where the environmental bottom line meets the economic bottom line. The message coming loud and clear from its owners: “We’re here to stay, and we’re doing it our way!” The third – “Reuse Enterprise Trumps Recycling” by Neil Seldman – shows how Marty Metro’s company rescues quality used, new overrun and misprinted cardboard boxes to reach the right markets by providing a web-based service that utilizes environmentally-superior products. “We simply do what our customers want,” sums up Metro.
To subscribe to In Business, visit or call 610-967-4135 ext. 21. A one-year (6 issues) subscription is $33.
The premier of the Queensland State in Australia said that falling dam levels during a record drought has left his government with no choice but to introduce recycled water next year into one of the country’s fastest-growing urban areas. “We have no choice,” said Peter Barrie. Australian farms and most cities are in the grip of the nation’s worst drought in a century.
South Australia State’s premier, Mike Rann, said his region has already used recycled water on crops but would not introduce it into the drinking water supply. Prime Minister John Howard congratulated Mr. Barrie and predicted that recycled water would be introduced to Sydney in the near future.
The race is on in towns like Yorkshire and Humber in the United Kingdom, which sent 125,000 tonnes of compostable kitchen waste to the landfill last year. Legislation to reduce that amount of biodegradable MSW has been adopted and will be effective in 2020. If the expansions in collection are successful, separated waste will need to be processed.
That’s why local officials are working with Recycling Action Yorkshire (RAY), funded through the European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward, to prepare a composting design. In preparation, Matt Hill – composting project manager for RAY – is working with five farmers to create or expand capacity. Explains Hill: “Farmers are often ideally placed to process biodegradable municipal waste by composting. They often have suitable concrete and well-drained areas as well as farm machinery that can be used in the process. They also provide an immediate market for the product with their own land, while building a more stable business for themselves and families.”
In the past 12 years, the EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program has helped develop more than 325 landfill gas projects – reducing methane emissions by about 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. In 2006, these projects provided over 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 75 billion cubic feet of landfill gas. The energy produced was equivalent to powering 780,000 homes and heating nearly l.2 million homes.
Recently announced program award winners include: Jackson County Green Energy Park, North Carolina — landfill gas to heat local businesses and help produce biodiesel made from rapeseed and sold to the National Park Service; Lancaster County and Turkey Hill Dairy, Pennsylvania — powering 2,000 homes plus steam for dairy; Jefferson Parish and Cytec Industries, Louisiana — supplying methane to Cytec plant; Jenkins Brick Company, Alabama — supplying landfill gas to $56 million manufacturing plant; BMW Manufacturing, South Carolina — fueling paint shop operations; Delaware Solid Waste Authority, Delaware — generating electricity from gas at every viable landfill in state.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is hosting its 7th Annual Organics Recycling Summit, March 6, 2007, in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The plenary session will cover anaerobic digestion of organics, including source separated food residuals, followed by break-out sessions on public/private partnerships for facility operations and compost marketing, tapping higher value markets for compost, and identifying the common ground between state and local regulators and compost facility operators. Examples of innovative food waste diversion programs and use of biodegradable products will be addressed in the afternoon. On Wednesday, March 7, 2007, site visits are scheduled to the WeCare facility that composts biosolids and food waste from supermarkets; Whole Foods Market of Bellingham, a MassDEP Certified Supermarket; and Wrentham Farm (Groundscapes Express), an agricultural composting facility that processes source separated food waste, biodegradable service ware, and commercial organics. For additional details and to register, visit
The First Annual Vermont Organics Recycling Summit is being held on March 29, 2007 in Montpelier, Vermont at Vermont College. Vicky Viens, compost specialist with the state Agency of Natural Resources, says the Summit will provide an opportunity to “hear the progress that Vermont is making in keeping valuable organics out of the landfill through food ‘waste’ diversion to food rescue organizations and to composting.” A keynote address by Jean Bonhotal, Senior Extension Associate at the Cornell Waste Management Institute, will give an overview of composting developments. Her presentation will be followed by a panel of experts covering the main focus of this summit: Food rescue (e.g., donations to the Vermont Food Bank and food shelves), food scrap collection methods for grocery stores, restaurants and institutions, hauling needs, and the needs of farm and commercial composters. More details on the Summit can be found at:
Last month, reports California Agriculture (Jan-March 2007), a research team began collecting thousands of samples of domestic animal and wildlife droppings; creek, ditch and irrigation water; and soil and lettuce from area farms. The 4-year study was funded in October 2006 with a $1.17 million USDA grant. Focus had been on a series of E. coli outbreaks from 1995 to 2005 – seven associated with farms in the Salinas Valley; 15 with lettuce and one with spinach. Then came the outbreak in September 2006, where 204 cases of illness due to E. coli 0157:H7 in spinach were reported to Centers for Disease Control, including three deaths and 102 hospitalizations. Food safety experts estimate that the actual number of people sickened in this outbreak was more likely about 4,000. And calls to expand the research project began.
The California Department of Health Services (DHS) confirmed that E. coli 0157:H7 isolates found in wild pig feces, feces of several cows, and in a stream on one of four farms were genetically identical to the strain that caused the deaths and serious illnesses related to spinach.
Scientists will carefully analyze findings to identify which vertebrates are sources of E. coli 0157:H7; assess the climate, landscape attributes and irrigation practices; and determine whether contaminated produce is associated with certain farming practices or environmental factors. “Ultimately, the scientists hope to tease out links between management practices, environmental conditions and vertebrates that carry the deadly bacteria. And then, the researchers will develop intervention strategies that sever the links,” write Jeanette Warnert and editors. More than three-quarters of California’s total production of salad greens comes from the Monterey County region, including the majority of the lettuce produced for the U.S. market, which is valued at $1.3 billion annually.

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