July 14, 2008 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle July 2008, Vol. 49, No. 7, p. 6

Frustrated by the City of Montreal, Quebec dragging its feet in offering curbside organics collection, resident Stephen McLeod started Compost Montreal, a two-man food scraps pick-up operation with almost 100 customers paying $5/week for the service. Households receive a used food container with a sealable lid to place organics in, as well as compostable cornstarch bags to line the container. McLeod purchased a bike trailer and began the door-to-door service last July. Materials are brought to a nearby Eco-quartier – neighborhood recycling education centers – that has a small composting operation.
McLeod got the idea for the project when taking his own organic waste to the drop-off site, realizing the inefficiency of every householder driving small quantities to the Eco-quartier. He found several neighbors interested in paying a nominal fee for collection and the business grew from there. By last winter, demand for the service increased and he switched from a bike trailer to a pickup truck for collection.
The Montreal Metropolitan Community, the regional body responsible for waste management planning, proposed a $170-million organics collection and composting program. The region wants the province to cover 85 percent of the cost, while municipalities pick up the rest. But until a citywide service is available, McLeod’s Compost Montreal will keep on trucking.
After more than five years of research by ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) fuel experts, three new standards for biodiesel have been approved by the ASTM International D02 Main Committee. The new specifications, expected to bolster use of biodiesel, include up to 5 percent biodiesel (B5) in conventional petrodiesel; new standards for blends between 6 percent biodiesel (B6) to 20 percent (B20) for on- and off-road diesel; and changes to existing blend stock specifications for 100 percent biodiesel (B100). “The new ASTM specifications for B6 to B20 blends will aid engine manufacturers in their engine design and testing processes to optimize the performance of vehicles running on biodiesel,” said Steve Howell, Chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. “The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump.” Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 biodiesel, saying the lack of the specification has been the main hurdle preventing full-scale acceptance of B20 for their diesel vehicles.
The Composting NZ website was launched in June, 2008 as the successor to UC Composting, previously hosted by the University of Canterbury. Content will be progressively updated with new pages on product utilization, marketing and education to include initiatives developed by Compost NZ and the NZSoil3 project. A featured photo on the site shows the Horizontal Composting Unit (HCU) Mark 2, developed by Innovative Waste Kaikoura. The unit is 2.5 meters wide, 2 meters high and 30 meters long. It operates with a retention time of 30 days.
Compost New Zealand is the lead organization to promote organic resource recycling and use in New Zealand, establishing an effective professional industry. Recyclable organic matter currently makes up over a quarter of landfill waste in New Zealand. For more information, visit
The Westin Tabor in Denver, Colorado, part of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., has announced a commercial recycling program where food scraps – liquids such as beer, milk, juice and organics – are collected for composting. Twice weekly, residues will be moved to the A1 Organics composting site. After biodegrading for four months, the compost will be ready for use as soil amendments. Finished compost will be used as top dressing on landscaping projects in the Denver area.
“We believe that we are the first ever hotel in the city to make a committed effort to composting leftover food and liquids,” states Chuck Schuringa, the hotel’s director of operations. The hotel’s Green Team, under the leadership of Andrew Porte and Scott Burnham, has made a long-term commitment to recycling and composting. The team has a goal of reducing material sent to landfills by 70 percent or more.
Sponsored by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil,” a new exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History reveals the complex world of soil and how this hidden ecosystem supports nearly every form of life on Earth. It includes interactive displays, hands-on models and soil samples. Visitors can also explore soil found in their own backyards with 54 soil samples representing each state, territory and D.C., as well as soil maps from around the world. “This is the most ambitious exhibition ever dedicated to soil, a resource as important to life on Earth as water and air,” says Patrick Megonigal, soil scientist at the Smithsonian and lead curator of the exhibit. Visitors can observe the way water moves through soils in tumbler tubes containing sand, silt, clay and loam. Flow of water through soil can affect minerals and gases and all life that depends on soil. “Soil has an impact on climate change and our carbon footprint, among other important environmental issues,” says Gary Peterson, SSSA President. The exhibit is open until January 3, 2010.
The nation’s second largest retailer, Home Depot, announced last week that it will take back old compact fluorescents (CFLs) in all 1,973 stores in the U.S., creating the nation’s most widespread recycling program for the bulbs. “We kept hearing from the community that there was a concern about mercury in the CFLs,” says Ron Jarvis, Home Depot’s senior vice president for environmental innovation. Until now, consumers had to seek out local hazardous waste programs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been looking into putting CFL drop-off boxes at post offices. Across most of the country, recycling bulbs has been inconvenient and it’s estimated that the recycling rate is around two percent.
Home Depot’s program will bring relatively convenient recycling within reach of most households – estimating that 75 percent of the nation’s homes are within 10 miles of a Home Depot.
Both Home Depot and WalMart have vigorously promoted the bulbs as part of their commitment to the environment. Need for a national recycling program became apparent to Home Depot as sales of compact fluorescents climbed to 75 million last year.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada will be home to the world’s first facility to produce biofuels from municipal solid waste, having signed a 25-year agreement with GreenField Ethanol and Enerkem. The $70 million biofuels plant will produce 36 million liters of biofuels per year and reduce Alberta’s carbon dioxide footprint by more than 6 million metric tons over the next 25 years, according to project developers. The City of Edmonton and the government of Alberta, through the Alberta Energy Research Institute, are contributing $20 million to the facility, while Edmonton will also contribute $50 million to a related processing site and research facility.
“This unique partnership with private companies and the provincial government builds on our global leadership in municipal waste management,” says Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. “It will enable us to make a noted contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and become the first major city in North America to achieve 90 percent residential waste diversion from landfill. We are also excited to be proceeding with the caliber of this partnership and look forward to seeing this facility on stream in the near future.”
“This next generation biofuels facility will offer drivers a new choice in transportation fuels,” adds Donald Pierce, President of Greenfield Ethanol’s Advanced Biofuels Group. “Greenfield is thrilled to be leading in the development of next generation ethanol along with partners Enerkem, the City of Edmonton and the Province of Alberta.”
City and state officials, as well as the heads of major area recycling organizations, formally announced that Chicago will shift to the Blue Cart as its main method for recycling by 2011. “We will expand the Blue Cart Recycling Program to an additional 92,000 households by the end of 2008, doubling the number of participating households,” says Streets & Sanitation Commissioner Michael J. Picardi. Adds Environment Commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna: “Changes in recycling technology and the increased value of recycled materials made the shift to separate collection a viable option.”
During the transition, the City plans to double its existing network of 16 recycling drop off centers citywide, making it more convenient for all Chicagoans to recycle. Residents in the Blue Cart recycling areas are given a blue 96-gallon recycling cart to deposit recyclable materials including paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, tin and aluminum. Yard trimmings can be put in any bag that will contain them and set out next to the cart. Meanwhile, residents waiting for the shift to the Blue Cart are strongly encouraged to compost their yard trimmings at home.

Sign up