May 23, 2007 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle May 2007, Vol. 48, No. 5, p. 6

BioCycle’s searchable data base,, was officially launched at BioCycle’s 23rd Annual West Coast Conference last month in San Diego. Since then, close to 100 composters in 24 states have entered their facilities in the data base. Steps to add a composting facility are: 1) Log on to; 2) Click “Add Composting Facility;” 3) Enter facility information; 4) BioCycle editors are notified of new entries and verify information entered; 5) Once verified, composting facility becomes part of the searchable data base. Companies or government agencies with more than one composting site need to enter each facility separately.
Growing interest in diverting organics to composting – especially commercial, institutional and industrial food residuals – led BioCycle, with sponsorship from the Biodegradable Products Institute, to create Food waste generators such as grocery stores, commercial kitchens, food service contractors and food processors – as well as organizers of special events and sports stadiums and convention centers – increasingly are looking for alternatives to landfill disposal of their organic waste streams. At the same time, demand for compost continues to grow. BioCycle and BPI expect that will increase visibility of, and access to, composting facilities that process a wide variety of organic residuals and sell quality compost products.
“Momentum for bringing extended producer responsibility (EPR) to California is increasing,” declares Bill Sheehan, director of the Product Policy Institute. ( “The movement is being led by local governments facing an increasing number of landfill bans on hazardous products.” Recently, local governments in Northern California came together to form the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC), modeled on the successful Northwest Product Stewardship Council. That’s significant, notes Sheehan, because more than half of California’s 58 counties are represented and they understand they don’t have the resources to manage the flood of hazardous products “and that requiring them to enforce landfill bans on hazardous products is an unfunded mandate.” CPSC has launched its website at
Rod Tyler of Filtrexx International LLC received an award for Best Available Environmental Technology from the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) at the Association’s annual meeting in Florida in April. The NAEP’s National Excellence Awards focus on significant achievements in improving the quality of the environment, unique compliance methodology, environmental technology innovation and application. Filtrexx and Tyler – who founded the company after many years of working in compost production, marketing and sales – were recognized for their corporate program on Erosion Control and Storm Water Management, which includes over 20 low impact designs using locally made products that are “annually renewable, biobased, organic, recycled and natural.” Filtrexx has nearly 100 Certified Installers located in most of the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Installers used about one million cubic yards of composted materials as a key ingredient to reducing erosion and helping to control storm water in 2006. “We expect the use of compost in our program to double within the next few years,” says Tyler, CEO of Filtrexx. The company developed a patented filter sock technology for erosion and sediment control at construction sites. Various applications of the sock system include stream bank restoration, creation of living walls, and cement washout containment during construction.
Managing MSW presents many opportunities for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, says a new report by the U.S. EPA, which presents estimates of GHG emissions from composting yard trimmings and food residuals. Analyzing impacts from centralized composting sites, the report quantifies such estimates as the potential carbon storage benefits of applying compost to soils; net GHG emissions from composting; and limitations. EPA concluded that from the available information, methane (CH4) generation from centralized compost piles is “essentially zero.”
Research suggests that composting, when managed properly, does not generate CH4 emissions, but it does result in some carbon storage (associated with application of compost to soils), as well as minimal CO2 emissions from transportation and mechanical turning of the compost piles. In order to maintain consistency with other chapters in this report, EPA selected point estimates from the range of emission factors – covering various compost application rates and time periods – developed in the analysis. The point estimates were chosen based on a “typical” compost application rate of 20 tons of compost per acre, averaged over three soil-crop scenarios.
The researchers contacted by EPA stated that well-managed compost operations usually do not generate CH4 because they typically maintain an aerobic environment with proper moisture content to encourage aerobic decomposition of the materials. The researchers also noted that even if CH4 is generated in anaerobic pockets in the center of the compost pile, the CH4 is most likely oxidized when it reaches the oxygen-rich surface of the pile, where it is converted to CO2. Several of the researchers commented that anaerobic pockets are most apt to develop when too much water is added to the compost pile. They noted that this problem rarely occurs because compost piles are much more likely to be watered too little rather than too much.
Based on a report on investments in clean technology that includes processing waste, money is flowing into alternative energy companies extremely fast. No longer overlooked by investors, reports The New York Times in its April 30, 2007 edition, the amount of venture capital going into clean energy investments last year was $1.5 billion, up 141 percent from the $623 million of 2005. Initial public offerings were primarily in companies involved in biofuels or solar power. Investment is driven by incentives from new taxes and restraints to curb global warming gases, mainly the carbon dioxide given off by burning fossil fuels. “Investors are now chasing entrepreneurs,” says Matthew Nordan, president of a New York research firm. “When you see venture capital more than double from one year to the next, and I.P.O. values double, that’s the sign of a bubble in the making,” explains Nordan. “Air, water and waste segments present hidden opportunities that are relatively starved for investment.”
Financing sessions on alternative energy and related waste management opportunities will be held at the upcoming 7th Annual “Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling” Conference October 1-3, 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (See pages 8-9 of this issue for Conference Highlights.) For more details, call BioCycle at (610) 967-4135, ext. 21, or visit
The University of Northern Iowa’s (UNI) National Ag-Based Lubricants (NABL) Center is conducting research into a major problem facing the renewable fuels industries – how to create economically viable markets for processing by-products. By using by-product corn oil and glycerin in the formulation for new biobased products, NABL will increase profitability of the ethanol and biodiesel industries.
“We’ve known of potential problems with surplus glycerin (biodiesel by-product) and residual corn oil from dry distillers grain (left over from ethanol operations),” explains Lou Honary, UNI professor. “Our goal is to find high-value uses for these products to make them assets rather than liabilities for the industry.” NABL is working with two Iowa companies – Golden Grain Energy of Mason City, a large dry mill ethanol producer, and Renewable Energy Group, Inc. the largest soy biodiesel supplier – to evaluate opportunities.
As recently reported in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, just about everything in Cuba seems to be reused. A plastic CD cover doubles as a picture frame. Drinking glasses are cut down Havana Club rum bottles. Ariel Rodriguez makes new keys from old ones, shaping them on a key-copying machine bought broken and fixed with parts from a grain mill. “Cave men figured out how to cook with fire. We invent ways to get by,” says 34-year-old Rodriguez. Fernando Alberto Delgado makes his living refilling disposable lighters, charging clients a fraction of what it would cost for new ones. Delgado, 37, claims to make more money in the lighter-refill business than in his plumbing job.
In 1961, Che Guevera led a state company to recover metals from waste. The objective: To save on imports, boost exports, expand industry and create jobs. Recycling on this Caribbean island has become an art. Craftsmen turn coconuts into decorative boats and cigar labels into coasters for sale to tourists. Barbaro Bernardo Osuna, 35, incorporates Cuban newspapers into colorful, acrylic paintings. Labels from Bucanero beer and Havana Club rum are used in collages to identify the works as Cuban.
In a nation where salaries average $15/month, necessity motivates. “Sure, I’d like to use new supplies,” says an eyeglass repairman. “But used ones are cheaper, and I can’t charge too much. They can’t afford it.”
The idea is simple enough. To offset the effects of global warming, several groups are testing approaches that will grow vast floating beds of plankton intended to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and carry it to the depths of the ocean. With many questions still unanswered, the first commercial project by a company called Plankton will dissolve tons of iron (an essential plankton nutrient, reports The New York Times, May 1, 2007) over a 10,000 square kilometer area. As the trace iron prompts growth of the tiny organisms, scientists will measure how much carbon dioxide the plankton ingest. The idea is similar to planting forests full of carbon-inhaling trees; this is organic gardening, not rocket science, says Russ George, CEO of Plankton.
The Composting Council of Canada (CCC) announced the start of its 6th Annual Great Pumpkin Growing Contest. Composters in Canada are challenged to “Grow ’em Big with Compost!” The heaviest pumpkin at the time of weigh-in will be the 2007 national champion of the pumpkin patch! The winner receives bragging rights, $500 to donate to a horticultural initiative in their area and a complimentary registration to The Composting Council of Canada’s National Conference in 2008. Contestants receive a sign-up kit that provides Internet sources to learn about the “fine art” of pumpkin growing, and a package of World Champion Howard Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds. Rules of the CCC contest include using only compost to prepare the soil (no chemical fertilizers/supplements allowed) and no force-feeding of nutrients through the vines. Weigh-in is scheduled for Friday, September 28, 2007. Participants must phone in their results to the Council’s office, followed by a fax report and photo, signed by a local municipal official or horticultural group for verification. For more details, go to; 416-535-0240.
The U.S. EPA and USDA have launched a new study about the impact on streams, rivers, and lakes from the agricultural practice of winter manure spreading. Some farmers prefer to spread manure on their fields in the winter to avoid the cost of storage and because frozen soil can handle the weight of manure spreading equipment. Freeze and thaw cycles create a risk of polluted runoff when manure is applied in the winter. “The purpose of the study is to improve the science used to make decisions about the safety of winter manure spreading,” said EPA Regional Water Division Director Jo-Lynn Traub. “The agencies are trying to balance environmental protection with the needs of farmers.” The study is being conducted at several small experimental watersheds at a USDA research facility near Coshocton, Ohio. The study started in February and the agencies expect to publish results next year. It is a joint study by EPA Region 5, EPA Office of Research and Development and USDA Agricultural Research Service. More information about the study is available on EPA’s Web site at

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