August 22, 2007 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle August 2007, Vol. 48, No. 8, p. 6

BioCycle is holding its 7th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, October 1-3, 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The complete conference program is on pages 15-18 of this issue, and on-line at (click Conferences link). The conference highlights renewable energy projects that cross a range of technologies and feedstock sources. Small and large-scale anaerobic digestion projects that incorporate animal manures, as well as food processing residuals, fats/ oils/grease and other higher energy feedstocks are featured. One session looks at gasification projects fueled by C&D debris and poultry litter, as well as reviews technology advances; another gets into innovations with converting landfill gas into biofuels and combined heat and power. Presentations on ethanol production developments evaluate transportation logistics of biomass to ethanol plants, and how to generate ethanol from various residuals streams.
The 2007 Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling Conference also gets into the nitty-gritty of project development – from financing and securing fuel supplies to permitting and regulatory compliance. Managers and developers of anaerobic digestion plants will explain the necessary steps to upgrade biogas to pipeline quality renewable natural gas. Public policy discussions will review how states and regional groups are drafting and implementing incentive programs to facilitate development of a renewable energy and biofuels infrastructure. These include how to encourage utilities and natural gas pipeline companies to purchase output from renewable power and fuel projects.
The opening plenary session on October 1st includes a keynote address by Dennis Langley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of E3 Biofuels, Inc. Mr. Langley will discuss the company’s integrated facility in Mead, Nebraska that uses multiple technology and fuel supply streams to become a major biofuels producer. Fred Mayes, Chief of the Renewable Information Team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), will present updated wood and wood waste supply estimates for biomass energy projects. Mr. Mayes also will discuss an EIA study that quantifies biogenic sources in the municipal solid waste stream.
On October 3, 2007, a field trip will tour the Greencycle yard trimmings and wood waste processing and composting facility in Indianapolis; the Fair Oaks Dairy and the Hidden View Dairy anaerobic digester installations (Fair Oaks sand-beds its dairy cows, which makes its digester project unique); and the Twin Bridges landfill gas recovery project that is capable of producing up to 6,400 kW of electricity.
To register for BioCycle’s 7th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, visit www.biocycle. net (click on conferences) or call 610-967-4135, ext. 21.
Based on the findings of remediation experts in China and Florida, research results – published in a 2007 issue of Compost Science & Utilization – indicated that a biosolids-yard trimmings compost can be a safe and acceptable replacement or partial replacement for peat-based media without increased leachability of nutrients and heavy metals. The leaching potential was evaluated from a peat-based medium. The medium contained 70 percent peat, 20 percent perlite, and 10 percent vermiculite which was amended with varying proportions (from zero to 100 percent) of compost and yard trimmings.
The compost contained small amounts of Zn, Cu, Pb and Cd. However, their leachate fractions in compost accounted for only 0.19 percent, 0.23 percent. 0.05 percent and 0.27 percent, respectively of the total concentrations. Except for Cu, the concentrations of Zn, Pb, and Cd were higher in the leachates of peat-based medium than the compost amended media. The concentrations of Cd and Pb in the first leachate of the peat-based medium exceeded the drinking water standards (USEPA 1989). However, the concentrations of Cd, Cr, Cu, and Pb in all the compost amended media were below the limit of the drinking water standards. The concentrations of total P and PO4-P in leachates increased with increasing proportion of compost in the media. Concentration of NO3-N in the first leachate was high and decreased in the subsequent leachings for all the compost amended media. These results suggested that the biosolids-yard waste compost may be a safe and acceptable replacement or partial replacement to peat-based medium without increased leachability of nutrients and heavy metals.
The United Kingdom government has published a new strategy for cutting waste in England, with an emphasis on its role in tackling climate change and resource efficiency. As reported in the June 2007 issue of Warmer Bulletin, the UK government has opened consultation on allowing local authorities to introduce financial incentives for recycling and composting. Key objectives are to: Decouple waste growth from economic growth with more emphasis on reuse; Exceed the Landfill Directive diversion targets for biodegradable MSW; Get the most environmental benefit from that investment through increased recovery of energy from residual waste using a mix of technologies. Overall impact is expected to be an annual net reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions from waste management of at least 9.3 million tons of carbon dioxide. A greater focus on waste prevention will be done through a new target to reduce household waste not reused, recycled or composted from over 22.2 metric tons in 2000 by 29 percent to 15.8 metric tons in 2010, and 12.2 metric tons in 2020 – a reduction of 45 percent. Higher national targets have been set for composting of MSW – at least 40 percent by 2010, 45 percent by 2015, and 50 percent by 2020.
Main points of the new strategy are to: Incentivize efforts to reduce, recycle and recover energy from waste; Reform regulations to drive reduction of waste while reducing costs to participating businesses and regulators; Target action on feedstocks to improve economic outcomes; Stimulate investment in collection and markets for recovered materials; and Improve national and local governance with a clearer performance and institutional framework.
Kit Strange is editor of Warmer Bulletin, which provides a worldwide information service on sustainable management of postconsumer wastes. He can be contacted at Warmer Bulletin, The British School, Otley Street, Sipton. North Yorkshire, BD23 lEP, UK. E-mail is
To further statewide initiatives for more sustainable resource management, the Recycler’s Global Warming Council (RGWC) presented, “Resource Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Reduce Landfill Disposal” to the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB). The proposed plan came from California Resource Recovery Association’s (CRRA) “Reducing Greenhouse Gases by Composting Organics.”
When the Council applied EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to California’s current waste characterization data, they found a potential reduction of 16 million Metric Tons Carbon Equivalent (MTCE), and market values estimated at more than $1.4 billion. Another $1.2 billion was attributed to costs for landfilling these materials.
The resource plan asserts ample opportunity exists to compost, as well as reduce and reuse, and suggests the state change its view for handling these materials. From the report: “Rather than managing waste, we propose managing resources statewide. Rather than focusing on local government diversion rates, we propose reducing landfilling. Rather than focusing on managing methane at landfills, we propose focusing on reducing GHG emissions before they are in the landfill.” The Council has proposed a new 25 percent landfill disposal reduction goal for the state.
Diversion for composting and reuse could yield a reduction of 765,000 MTCE of GHG if commercial, residential, and self-hauled lumber, yard trimmings and residential food scraps were captured at the 25 percent rate. Compost use is also considered a mitigation measure for the anticipated decline in soil quality attributed to climate changes.
Funding for programs proposed by the report could be achieved by a suggested $3 to $6/ton landfill disposal surcharge, and would generate estimated revenues of between $125 million and $250 million per year. The Council recommends funds be focused on technology grants and zero percent loans.
As an ultimate goal, the Recycler’s Global Warming Council and CRRA want to see California reach zero waste by 2025. “The potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions and monetary value of these resources is substantial,” said CRRA boardmember Richard Anthony. “There’s absolutely no reason to bury them in a dump. Agriculture and our increasingly depleted soils need this organic material, and state residents want a healthy economy. With these initiatives, we can achieve both.”
An 18-month review by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that China’s severely polluted environment has caused “significant damage to human health,” damaging the nation’s prospects for continued economic expansion. The Chinese government said last year that pollution has cost $64 billion in economic losses in 2004. The OECD report stated that by 2020, China will have 600,000 premature deaths annually and 20 million cases of respiratory illness a year because of pollution. Overall cost of health damage will equal 13 percent of gross domestic product. Some 190 million people are estimated to be suffering from illnesses related to dirty drinking water. More than 30,000 children die every year due to polluted water. Farmers across the country have protested tainted water supplies and ruined farmland.
Hotels are offering all kinds of green programs – because their business guests are demanding it and hotels are finding that green saves money, writes The New York Times. The National Business Travel Association has included “eco-friendly elements in hotel design and operations” for the first time at its annual summer convention. “When I’m at a hotel,” says one traveler, “I always look to see if they use compact fluorescent bulbs. Ideally, I’d be looking for a green roof and recycling facilities.” At one hotel chain, all front-desk computers run on wind power bought from a sustainable energy cooperative, and several of its golf courses are irrigated with recycled water. At another chain, heating and cooling are conducted via an energy-saving geothermal system, and water from sinks and showers will be recycled for use in toilets.
Environmental friendliness has become a high priority for business travelers. There are also financial benefits for hotels to installing light bulbs that use less energy or bathroom fixtures that limit water flow. Conservation measures are now considered smart investments.
The Summer 2007 issue of the United Kingdom’s Composting News – published by The UK Composting Association (TCA) – has a report on the new “Quality Protocol for Compost” by Jeremy Jacobs, Development Director of the TCA. He writes: “The Protocol should be seen as an extension of the existing BSI PAS 100 certification scheme and will effectively mean that if you comply with the requirements of the protocol, compost leaving your site will no longer be regulated by waste management legislation as has previously been the case. … Acceptable biowaste types for quality compost show 19 categories which are all source segregated. Within each category, there is a specific European Waste Category (EWC). It’s essential that any feedstock you process falls within one of these categories.”
The Protocol does not specify exactly how a composting process must be carried out. Rather, there are a number of requirements that a standard must fulfill before being included – specifically that a compost quality management system be followed that includes Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Assessment. The most notable addition is that of “Contract of Supply,” which must be completed for every compost load leaving the site.
There are now over 100 compost producers either certified to BSI PAS 100 or working towards PAS 100 within the UK. This year more than three million tons of biodegradable waste will have been processed at compost sites in the UK. A wide range of products is made, from soil conditioners to special blends. “This is an industry which is developing very quickly and will require producers to continue developing markets … Compliance with the Protocol will go a long way to inspiring confidence and recognition with end users,” writes Jacobs.
It is also stressed that compost is the “first recovered waste to be subject to a Quality Protocol. … The Protocol sets out criteria for production of compost from specific waste types, and compliance with these criteria is considered sufficient to ensure that the recovered products can be classified as fully recycled and used without risk to the environment or harm to human health. … The Quality Protocol reinforces the long-held belief that compost is a quality product that delivers great results in a wide range of applications.”
For farmers in England and Wales, the Protocol signifies an easing of regulation for use of compost. “Records will need to be kept on how the compost has been used including details of when, where and how much compost was applied. … The Quality Protocol is a major milestone for the composting industry and for development of a resource economy in the UK. It will allow composters to manufacture quality products free of the ‘waste’ tag, building customer confidence and leading to further growth in this fast expanding industry.”
Australia is in the middle of its worst drought, according to Michael Warne – head of biosolids research and former Australia EPA regulator for water – during a recent visit to Seattle. The drought is so bad that irrigation water for its agricultural heartland is affecting some of the best wine making areas. Adelaide, the city where Warne is based, has enough water for less than a year.
Within this climate, reports Sally Brown of the University of Washington, who attended Warne’s presentation to Northwest Biosolids Management Association (NWMA) members, reclaimed water as well as desalinization plants are beginning to look like required management practices rather than options. Standards for reclaimed water have been developed. Lab and field research has shown that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in wastewater effluent as well as upstream WWTPs have negatively impacted the mating capacity of a unique Australian river fish. “Factor into this the recognition that ecological flows into natural waters are an essential component of healthy ecosystems and you have the makings of a true water crisis,” observes Brown.
As for biosolids, Warne discussed how air-dried biosolids are provided to farmers free, but they are required to pay for transport from the treatment plant. There is a similar regulatory structure for land application as in the U.S. with permissible concentrations of both metals and pathogens. Much lower metal limits are in place, particularly for cadmium since there are strict limits in Australia for Cd concentration in wheat and potatoes.

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