October 22, 2008 | General


BioCycle October 2008, Vol. 49, No. 10, p. 6

An Organizing Committee for the BioCycle International Conference 2009, to be held April 27-30 in San Diego, California, was recently announced. The Conference will be celebrating BioCycle’s 50th Anniversary. The Organizing Committee will assist BioCycle with technical session development and identifying historical watershed events that have shaped today’s composting, organics recycling and renewable energy industries. The Committee also will provide guidance on establishment of a scholarship fund for research, celebratory events, and selecting sites for the April 30th Celebrating Success Tour.
Organizing Committee members include: Susan Antler, Composting Council of Canada; Marco de Bertoldi (Invited), University of Udine, Italy; Werner Bidlingmaier, University of Weimar, Germany; Jean Bonhotal, Cornell Waste Management Institute; Sally Brown, University of Washington; Nora Goldstein, BioCycle; Jeremy Jacobs, Association For Organics Recycling, United Kingdom; Larry Krom, Focus on Energy; Chad Kruger, Washington State University; Frederick Michel, The Ohio State University; Brian Rosa, North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources; Jean Schwab, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Brenda Smyth, California Integrated Waste Management Board; and Zhiqin Zhang, California Energy Commission.
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A report released in September by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Program), a nonprofit organization in the United Kingdom, shows high levels of public support in trials where over 94,000 households were offered source separated food waste collection. The trials spanned 19 local authorities in the UK with both rural and urban household locations, and provided each participant with a caddy for separating scraps in the kitchen, a supply of liners and a container for storing food waste outside prior to collection. In surveys conducted by WRAP, 78 percent of residents were satisfied with the collection service. In about half of the areas where participation was monitored, 70 percent of households were participating in the service. Food waste collected was either composted at in-vessel facilities or treated by anaerobic digestion.
The trials also indicated that the liners were a significant factor for participation, making food collections clean and easy for residents. While collection of food waste was successful in areas where trash was collected either weekly or fortnightly, higher participation and larger yields were found with the latter. This is the topic of an earlier study conducted by WRAP (“Alternate Weekly Collections Guidance,” available for download at Following the trials, several of the local authorities have already decided to implement the food waste collection service on a permanent basis.
“The first priority is to try to reduce this level of waste,” says Phillip Ward, Director for Local Government Services at WRAP. “Through its Love Food Hate Waste campaign, WRAP is working hard to raise awareness and provide practical suggestions to consumers on how they can reduce food wastage. However, at the same time, we must ensure that the food waste which is produced is diverted from landfill, so that we can avoid the production of methane and other global warming gases. We are therefore delighted by the results of these trials, which show that if consumers are given the right tools and are provided with a good service, they will participate in initiatives to cut waste being sent to landfill.”
In other news from WRAP, two new funding sources for organics recycling and renewable energy were just announced. The Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF) Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Demonstration Program provides £10 million to develop cutting edge AD technology on a commercial scale. It specifically will invest in infrastructure and treatment capacity, supporting three to six projects in England. The second fund is the Organics Capital Grant Program, providing £16 million towards the development of food waste recycling infrastructure, such as in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion or other proven technologies. The program’s goal is to fund 400,000 metric tons of new capacity by March 2011.
Will Allen, urban farmer and composter, was recently awarded a $500,000 fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, commonly referred to as the MacArthur “Genius Grant.” Allen is founder and CEO of Growing Power, an urban farm and nonprofit training center located in northern Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Greenhouses on a two-acre city lot house raised beds for herbs and greens, aquaculture, hydroponics, vermicomposting bins, classrooms, kitchens, and a retail store that sells goods from a network of farmers. Outside are more compost windrows and bins, goats, turkeys, ducks and a productive aviary of bees. Growing Power takes in brewers waste and food scraps for composting, and grows about 100,000 pounds of organic produce annually.
Growing Power also employs community members and hosts classes and workshops. All operations are set up to not only be productive, but as demonstrations and teaching tools. The aquaculture systems, for instance, demonstrate closed-loop setups that are easily replicable and affordable, while producing fish, tomatoes and watercress for market. Workshops teach how to build the aquaculture systems. An anaerobic digester was recently installed, processing food scraps to produce acetic acid that can be transported and used for a variety of purposes. A more detailed article about Growing Power is forthcoming in BioCycle.
In the first half of 2008, more than 10 percent of domestically produced energy used in the U.S. was from renewable sources, reports the most recent “Monthly Energy Review,” issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. From January to June 2008, the U.S. consumed 50.673 quadrillion Btus (quads), 34.162 quads of which was from domestic sources. Domestically produced renewable energy totaled 3.606 quads, or 10.56 percent of U.S. consumption of domestically produced energy. In contrast, nuclear power was only slightly higher than renewable sources, at 11.98 percent. Renewable energy, in this calculation, includes biomass/biofuels, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. Compared to the first six months of 2007, this is a five percent increase, up from 3.439 quads.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) released its 2007 survey results that show 87 percent of the U.S. population (268 million people) have access to curbside or drop-off recycling programs. Out of that 87 percent, 62 percent (191 million people) have access to curbside recycling programs, and 64 percent (196 million people) have access to drop-off sites. AF&PA notes that there has been an increase in the grades of paper being recovered in existing recycling programs, which is important for achieving the industry’s goal of recovering 60 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. by 2012.
The State of Wisconsin leads the U.S. in the number of operating dairy farm digesters that produce electricity and heat from cow manure and other organic materials. As of July 2008, there were 17 farms with operating anaerobic digester systems. Five of those farms have two digesters, bringing the total number in the state to 22. This data is reported in Focus on Energy’s Wisconsin Agricultural Biogas Casebook. The online report offers a historical snapshot of the current operating digester systems on Wisconsin farms and is meant to give those interested in digesters some insight on how to implement their own system. “We’re very proud of the leadership role Wisconsin farms have played in the field of digester systems,” says Larry Krom, project manager for Focus on Energy. “Many of the projects in the casebook received funding from Focus on Energy. The Casebook offers many project details on how different digester systems work, describes enhancements by farm operators and includes candid observations from the farmers themselves.”
Fifteen of the 17 farms with digesters utilize the digested solids for bedding. Herd sizes on the farms range from about 800 to 4,000 head. Eleven of the 22 operating digesters are mixed plug-flow (mesophilic); two are variations of plug-flow. There are 6 complete mix digesters (mesophilic), and 3 that are thermophilic. The most common choice for digester owners to use their biogas is to run it through an engine generator set to produce electricity for sale. Total installed generation capacity is about 7.3 MW. Eight farms are adding other substrates to their digesters in addition to the usual manure, bedding and wastewater. These substrates include whey, industrial food waste grease as well as other food processing residuals, corn syrup and moldy feed. The Wisconsin Agricultural Biogas Casebook can be downloaded at the following site:
The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) announced a request for proposals (RFP) for research that provides wastewater treatment utility personnel and their consultants with field-tested design and operational procedures that improve solids management. The research will reduce costs, conserve energy, assure regulatory compliance and improve public understanding of solids management operations, notes WERF. In the RFP, researchers are asked to find better ways to manage biosolids odors, “sudden increases” in indicator organisms in biosolids, and bacterial regrowth during storage of biosolids. Previous WERF research indicates that factors that affect biosolids odors are likely related to regrowth of indicator organisms measured in biosolids after digestion. Sudden increase of indicator organisms and regrowth also are important considerations for compliance with state and federal regulations. In addition, a number of utilities are making important design decisions that involve the types of processes being studied in this project, including various digester/dewatering combinations.
Proposal deadline is November 25, 2008. The complete request for proposals can be accessed at Contact WERF Program Director Alan Hais ( for more information on this research effort or the proposal process.
A new book by Judith Purman, a long-time composting advocate, provides an easy to use guide for people who want to do their part to battle climate change. “Tracking Your Carbon Footprint: A Step-By-Step Guide To Understanding and Inventorying Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” introduces the reader to the basics of global climate change; the what, why and how to inventory your emissions; how to use the inventory to set goals and reduce emissions; and how to determine whether or not it makes sense to generate carbon credits. “Consumers now expect their employers, government and schools to embrace the notion that one’s style of living can negatively affect the environment today and for future generations,” writes Purman. “Likewise, homeowners, businesses and organizations are moving to more sustainable modes of operating, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because sustainability, being ‘green’ and reducing your carbon fooprint have value in the marketplace.” The book is $10.95 plus shipping and handling and can be ordered on line at
According to a new study establishing a national Green Jobs Index, the U.S. economy currently generates more than 750,000 green jobs – a number that is projected to grow five-fold to more than 4.2 million jobs over the next three decades. The report, released in early October by The U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayors Climate Protection Center, is the first calculation of its kind to measure how many direct and indirect jobs are in the new and emerging U.S. green economy. Prepared by Global Insight, Inc., the report found that over half (419,000) of current green jobs are in the category of Engineering, Legal, Research and Consulting, highlighting the important role supportive or “indirect” jobs play in moving the economy toward energy independence. The second largest category was Renewable Power Generation (127,000 jobs), followed by Agriculture and Forestry providing a significant contribution of 57,500 jobs.
Under assumed scenarios and with government commitment and investments, the report projects Green Jobs could contribute 10 percent of new jobs through 2038, representing the fastest growing job segment in the U.S. economy. By 2038 renewable electricity production is forecasted to create 1.23 million jobs; alternative transportation fuels 1.5 million jobs; engineering, legal, research and consulting positions will be more than 1.4 million; and commercial and residential retrofits at 81,000 jobs, for a total of 4.2 million. Current green jobs are well distributed across the country. Approximately 85 percent are located in metropolitan areas, while the remaining are found in nonmetro counties. New York ranks first, with 25,021 jobs, followed by Washington, D.C. (24,287), Houston (21,250), and Los Angeles (20,136). “We can now measure and show how green jobs and climate protection go hand in hand,” says Conference Vice President Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “This gives us a glimpse into the future and the sizable economic benefits that will come from a green economy.” More details on the report can be found at
The California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC), a statewide organization dedicated to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), has launched a new website that offers the latest information on the EPR effort. The CPSC website is at Extended Producer Responsibility is a concept whereby product manufacturers are responsible for the life cycle of their products. This “framework” approach goes beyond the product-by-product approach and establishes consistent principles and procedures to achieve producer-financed and managed recycling programs such as is done in Canada, Europe and other countries. “With EPR legislation expected to be considered in California in 2009, our site is an excellent way to gather the information you need to be well informed and to take action,” says Heidi Sanborn, CPSC’s Executive Director.
The website provides easy-to-access comprehensive information on Product Stewardship, tools for consumers to get involved and take action, detailed information on what specific industries and retailers are doing, existing policies and legislation, and news releases and articles. The CPSC is an organization of local governments and other partners, formed to support development of EPR policy and its implementation. The organization is dedicated to reversing the trend of manufacturers producing more disposable and toxic products and packaging every year and expecting cash-strapped local governments to fund end-of-life management.
An article in the September 2008 issue of BioCycle, “Small-Scale Digester Boosts Farm Economics,” incorrectly identified the company bringing off-farm materials to the Terryland Farms digester in St. Eugene, Ontario. Terryland receives off-farm feedstocks from various haulers but not Organic Resource Management, Inc., as reported. We apologize for the incorrect information, which was erroneously added to the article by an editor.

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