BioCycle June 2007, Vol. 48, No. 6, p. 6
SUPREME COURT RULES AUTHORITIES CAN FLOW CONTROL WASTE TO FACILITIES
The U.S. Supreme Court concluded in a 6-3 decision that allowed counties or solid waste authorities to flow control waste to facilities owned or operated by those public sector entities. The court ruled that this sort of flow control was different than the Carbone vs. Clarkstown case in 1994 that ruled an ordinance requiring all solid waste to be processed at a transfer station discriminated against interstate commerce. In delivering the opinion, the Chief Justice concluded that the Counties’ flow control ordinances do not discriminate against interstate commerce. In this recent case, the Court ruled that in United Haulers Association vs. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, flow control ordinances involving public facilities should be viewed differently than those involving privately held companies. The majority decided that “treating public and private entities the same under the dormant Commerce Clause would lead to unprecedented and unbounded interference by the courts with state and local government.”
Noted Chief Justice John Roberts: “We uphold these ordinances because any incidental burden they may have on interstate commerce does not outweigh the benefits they confer on the citizens of Oneida and Herkimer counties.”
EDUCATING REGULATORS ABOUT USING GREEN MATERIALS TO REDUCE WATER RUNOFF
“Our challenge today is not the development of new technologies. It is to get people to start using the technologies we’ve got,” stated Chairman David Wu of the House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation during hearings on reducing water runoff caused by roads and parking lots. One witness told the committee members that the key barrier is a lack of awareness to demonstrate that these materials will help communities comply with the Clean Water Act.
Runoff is a major contributor to water pollution, especially where there is concentrated oil, gasoline, heavy metals and other pollutants which can flow unimpeded into our nation’s water. A one-acre parking lot can produce 16 times the runoff of a one-acre meadow. Local groups have been working to develop simple yet innovative solutions that integrate control of nonpoint source water pollution.
LATEST COMPOST SCIENCE & UTILIZATION
COVERS SOIL BIOLOGY, ENZYMATIC ACTIVITY, AND ORGANIC MATTER EVOLUTION
The Spring 2007 Compost Science & Utilization – a BioCycle publication – features eight papers that report on nitrogen dynamics, cocomposting residuals from anaerobic digestion, soil properties from MSW compost, enzymatic activity of organic materials, compost evolution by isoelectrofocusing techniques, N fertilizer equivalent values of compost, movement of N and P at a composting site, and soil micronutrient availability after compost applications. Written by researchers at laboratories all over the world, the knowledge disseminated provides valuable insights to users as well as producers. Now in its 15th year of publication, Compost Science & Utilization may be ordered at $129 (U.S.); $154 Canada and Foreign for a one-year (4-issues) subscription. To subscribe, contact The JG Press, Inc., 419 State Ave., Emmaus, PA 18049. Phone: 610-967-4135 ext. 21; or subscribe online at: www.compostscience.net.
MIDWEST LEGISLATORS WOULD HAVE FARMERS GROW CELLULOSIC ENERGY CROPS
As mentioned in a BioCycle Energy article in this issue, three senators from Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota would encourage farmers through proposed legislation to grow cellulosic energy crops for producing fuel. One is titled the “Farm-to-Fuel Investment Act” and provides financial incentives for getting growers to raise energy crops within 50 miles of a biorefinery. The Renewable Fuels Association is backing the proposals, noting that increased use of ethanol will require producing fuel from crops other than corn alone.
HYBRID TAXIS WILL CUT EMISSIONS BY 215,000 TONS IN NEXT FIVE YEARS
An aggressive plan by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will steadily convert all 13,000 of the yellow taxis to hybrid technology by October 2012. The proposal will reduce carbon emissions by 215,000 tons annually and more than double gasoline mileage. According to city analysts, converting the taxis to hybrids will have the same impact as removing more than 30,000 vehicles from NYC streets. Adds Bloomberg: “Implementing tougher standards for more than 13,000 taxis will provide the same clean air benefits as removing 32,000 privately owned cars from our streets, which will significantly reduce air pollution that causes childhood asthma.”
Currently, there are about 375 hybrids, which will jump to 1,000 by October 2008 and 4,000 by October 2009. By October 2010, 7,000 yellow cabs will be hybrids – 53 percent of the total fleet. By October 2011, the numbers jump to 10,000 cabs – or 76 percent of the fleet. Taxis must achieve at least 25 miles per gallon after 2008, and 30 mpg after October 2009.
UK COMMUNITY COMPOST NETWORK FOLLOWS UP ON FOOD WASTE MINIMIZATION
Representing 200 composters around the United Kingdom, the Community Composting Network (CCN) welcomed the Waste Strategy for England 2007 and recognized the importance of food waste minimization, separate food waste collections and the role of anaerobic digestion. Nick McAllister (email@example.com) – CCN Coordinator – will be working with WRAP, Defra and waste networks to implement the strategy. A report identifies food waste as a key waste material, pointing out that there are strong arguments to encourage separate collection. Adds McAllister: “Separate collection of food waste allows quality materials to be sent for anaerobic digestion or composting and allows for an easier introduction of fortnightly residual collection.”
ZERO WASTE KITS FEATURE COMPOSTABLE TABLEWARE
The Spring/Summer 2007 issue of Eco-Cycle Times describes the Zero Waste Event Kit that offers compostable tableware and a third season offering of Eco-Cycle’s Microbe Brew full of living microbes and beneficial compounds.
At the core of each Eco-Cycle Event kit is a selection of tableware made of compostable plant starch, cornstarch or sugar cane (no nonrenewable petroleum-based plastics). The kit is designed for a group gathering of 25 to 150 guests with the idea of creating a Zero Waste Zone. It may include compostable hot ‘n cold liquid cups, compostable plates, bowls, utensils, and 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper napkins. And Eco-Cycle’s Microbe Brew helps plants survive the hot, rainless weather through its liquid soil amendment that keeps plants hardier and pest-resistant. For the third year in a row, Boulder, Colorado’s water customers get a 50 percent discount on the Brew since the Conservation Office encourages its use as a water-saving measure. Prices are $2.50/quart and $6/gallon. Visit: www.ecocycle.org or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLUSES AND MINUSES OF ALTERNATE WEEKLY COLLECTION ARE DISCUSSED IN WARMER BULLETIN
Editor Kit Strange writes in Warmer Bulletin (April 2007 issue) that in Britain, at least, “a remarkable storm has blown up over alternate weekly collection (AWC). It has become a political football as well as a technical and economic issue. What’s the problem? A perceived reduction in quality of services when residual waste is only collected every two weeks.”
According to Strange, who spoke at a BioCycle Conference recently, the matter has assumed monstrous proportions. London’s mayor hit out at growing enthusiasm in AWC as a way to increase recycling rates, saying its popularity has more to do with saving cash than effective waste management. Reuters reported that the national row over “rubbish collection” helped the Conservatives become the biggest party on Birmingham City Council for the first time in nearly 25 years.
However, the first ever United Kingdom analysis of whether AWC improves recycling was revealed by the Local Government Association – councils with AWC have recycling rates more than 30 percent higher than those who do not.
The Government has defended alternate rubbish collections, with environment minister Ben Bradshaw saying there was “no evidence” that removing food and other general waste fortnightly posed a health risk. Yet according to the BBC, Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped into the row – saying that he prefers weekly bin rounds. He said that while it was for councils to decide, there “must be better ways for them to boost recycling”.
Continues Kit Strange: “The fact of the matter is that higher levels of recycling are needed, and landfill diversion depends on changing public behaviour (you, me and everyone else). The key ways of changing behaviour when it comes to source separation at home are primarily economic and logistical – charge us for residual waste disposal until the pips squeak, and give us a system which eases recycling. Then pile on effective encouragement, incentives and good PR and we should soon be delivering effective participation, capture and diversion rates.”
“Of course, Governments in Britain have been terrified of introducing pay-as-you-throw schemes (these are seen as stealth taxes), so we lack the ability to follow best practices seen across Europe, America and elsewhere. It is possible that technological developments in automated sorting will one day deliver systems which need no householder involvement, apart perhaps from diverting messy organics. Until that day comes, AWC looks like the way to go.”
BRAZIL AND U.S. SEEK WAYS TO STRENGTHEN BIOFUELS PARTNERSHIP
A memorandum of understanding between Brazil and the United States was signed last month to stress “the importance of biofuels as a transformative force in the Western Hemisphere to diversify energy supplies and improve sustainable development of biofuels.” One specific goal is to work with the International Biofuels Forum to develop biofuels standards and codes. Goals of a recent workshop were to establish a collaborative program using shared expertise, molecular biology, and creating an ethanol cluster to integrate all aspects of ethanol production. Brazil has been at the forefront of renewable energy production since the oil crisis of the 1970s. Meanwhile Purdue University engineers in Indiana have proposed a new environmentally friendly process for generating liquid fuels from plant matter in agricultural and forest waste – adding hydrogen from a “carbon-free” energy source during gasification.
CLIMBERS FROM JAPAN REMOVE GARBAGE FROM MOUNT EVEREST
The world’s highest mountain, at 29,028 feet, has also been labeled the world’s highest garbage dump. During recent years, tons of trash have been left behind by “would-be summiteers” – tents, oxygen bottles, pots, stoves, etc. The Japanese climber Ken Noguchi observes that his teams have hauled 19,800 pounds of trash in five trips since 2000. But, he adds, this year the amount of waste on the mountain “has drastically decreased.”
MANAGING MACHINERY ON BIOLOGICAL FARMS
“As our food, fiber and bioenergy production systems are refined, development of tools that better represent the biological processes of the farm must continue as well,” writes Alan Rotz of the USDA in Resource (April 2007). Traditional machinery management has focused on the interactions between field equipment, soil and weather – with weather conditions making the biggest impact. Observes Rotz:
“Machinery management for the future must give more attention to the influence of equipment on the biological system – best accomplished through whole-farm simulation. By simulating all major processes and their interaction with equipment, an optimum system can be obtained that considers all production costs, ultimate value of the end product, and a more accurate optimization of farm profit.” A software tool that provides this analysis is the Integrated Farm System Model. Rotz can be contacted via e-mail at: email@example.com.
PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTING A HEALTHY, GREEN HOME
Alex Wilson – founder of the excellent newsletter, Environmental Building News – has written a book called Your Green Home that describes design and construction of structures with minimal negative impacts, that are safe and healthy for occupants. The book provides concepts about the relationship between a building and the land, how to foster a sense of community, with energy-saving roots that lead to solar and less fossil fuel.
Its chapters discuss design, materials and products, renewable energy, indoor environments, construction waste, landscaping and costs. There is, of course, important advice on managing organic waste and involving the entire family. Published by New Society Publishers, the book can be ordered for $17.95 plus shipping at www.BuildingGreen.com.
Notes Bill McKibben: “Alex Wilson is the dean of green building in this country. This synthesizes a lifetime of research and experience into an invaluable book for anyone with a home or who plans to get one.” Last week, as an example of the progress being made, Los Angeles added incentives for projects using green construction when it gave priority treatment for water and electrical connections for buildings that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.
NEW BOOK GIVES ADVICE ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL WASTEWATER USE
Sean Liu is Director of Bioresource Engineering at Rutgers University, and author of a book, Food and Agricultural Wastewater Utilization and Treatment (published by Blackwell of Ames, Iowa). It focuses on cost-effective treatment technologies as well as possible economical recovery of valuable substances from wastewater during common food processing and postharvest operations. Technologies cover problems of disposal, reuse strategies and separation methods. Chapters include basic microbiology, physicochemical treatment, biological wastewater treatment processes, natural systems, recoverable products, and economics. Visit: www.blackwellfood.com.
June 21, 2007 | General
BioCycle June 2007, Vol. 48, No. 6, p. 6