December 22, 2008 | General

BioCycle World

Biocycle December 2008, Vol. 49, No. 12, P. 8

Nine-Year-Old New Zealander Patents Composter Invention
Ryan Nicholls, 9 years old, became the youngest patent applicant in New Zealand with his invention, the Waste-Away, which was recently accepted by the Intellectual Patent Office of New Zealand. Nicholls, who lives in North Shore, Auckland, reportedly came up with the idea as a solution to carrying the family food scraps downstairs to the backyard compost bin, and sent in a video to the television show “Let’s Get Inventing.” The host, Chris Chitty (aka Dr. Robotech), selected it out of 700 inventions, and helped Nicholls develop the project into a marketable product.
The Waste-Away adapts a kitchen sink waste disposal unit, using a boat winch, a 44-gallon drum and 12 plastic nut-and-bolt storage containers. Food scraps and water are flushed down a pipe to the system, which is located outside under the kitchen window. As the water and food scraps come out of the pipe, a filter separates the water, which powers a water wheel, turning the mixer drum. The food waste drops into the drum, and is composted. The system doesn’t require any electricity after the sink disposal system.
Underground Organics, Recycling Collection Pipes
Wembley City, a new residential development near London, England features underground waste collection pipes for households. Made by Envac, the system has three aboveground color-coded chutes for collecting recyclables, organics and trash. Valves in the chutes open twice per day, pulling collected material into vacuum tubes, transported at 70 km/hr to a central collection station for processing. The system, which is used in 30 other countries, is expected to stimulate high levels of recycling, while reducing collection vehicle mileage by up to 90 percent. This elimination of collection vehicles is anticipated to reduce the development’s CO2 emissions by 400 metric tons/year.
Wembley City is a residential and entertainment development being constructed around London’s Wembley Stadium. When completed, the 85-acre development will include 4,200 homes, as well as retail and entertainment facilities. More information about the Envac system can be found at
Supplanting Carbon Loss From Corn Stover Removal
Recent research from Michigan State University (MSU) examines the effectiveness of materials like compost and manure to replace soil organic carbon that is lost with the removal of corn fodder as a cellulosic ethanol feedstock. “Use of Manure, Compost, and Cover Crops to Supplant Crop Residue Carbon in Corn Stover Removed Cropping Systems,” published in the November-December issue of the peer-reviewed Agronomy Journal, indicates that with these practices, corn stover bioenergy systems could increase short-term carbon sequestration rates, as well as reduce overall net global warming potential.
“The MSU research team measured soil carbon changes, nitrous oxide and methane gas emissions, fuel used for crop production and methane emissions from manure application and storage.”
Spring Opening For Msw Composting Facility In Australia
A new MSW composting plant is scheduled to open next spring in Perth, Australia. The $80 million facility will treat up to 100,000 metric tons/year of mixed MSW, with an estimated recovery rate of up to 70 percent. Recyclables will be pulled out, and finished compost will be sold for forestry and rehabilitation purposes. BioVision 2020 will design, build and own the site using in-vessel composting technology developed by Conporec, a Canadian company. Tipping areas will be enclosed and negatively pressurized to reduce chances of odors.
“As we move into an emissions trading regime where there is a price put on methane pollution from landfill, these technologies will become increasingly price competitive,” says Mike Ritchie of SITA Environmental Solutions, which will operate the Perth facility.
Zero Waste Thanksgiving Event Produces Only One Zip-Lock Bag Of Trash
Over 1,000 people attended the 2008 Thanksgiving feast at the Paideia School, an independent pre K through grade 12 school in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. The school has been hosting the celebration since it opened in 1971, and this year planned it as a zero waste event, diverting 590 pounds of organics (including compostable cutlery and paper napkins), six 95-gallon toters of recyclables, and donating useable food to a local homeless shelter. Parent and student volunteers monitored the compost bins to prevent contamination. There were no trash bins. Organics were sent to Greenco Environmental for composting. The event impressively generated only 20 ounces of trash that could not be recycled or composted, small enough to fit in one zip-lock bag!
The Paideia School also recently started an on-site composting operation, after reading about the Clean Calgary program in BioCycle. “We already have a comprehensive recycling program where we recycle PET and HDPE plastic, glass, aluminum, paper, OCC, batteries and ink cartridges, and we decided that we could take another bite out of our solid waste stream through composting,” says Tania Herbert, a parent on the school’s Green Team.
As preparation, Herbert took an online PROP (Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania) course on composting, which she also read about in BioCycle. “That course was really useful, and it helped us create a training program for the interns,” she explains. “The students are now our composting experts who give composting presentations to classes and at staff meetings.” A four-cell composting bin was built out of primarily reclaimed wood (from pallets), and located centrally at a school garden. Norseman Plastics donated several 13-gallon bins, which are positioned around campus. Smaller food scrap buckets, with carbon filter tops, are in each classroom. “At the end of each week, our interns gather the Norseman bins, record the compost pile’s temperature, weigh the food scraps and then layer them in the bin with ground up leaves collected from campus,” says Herbert. More information about the school can be found at
Recycling, Organics Collection Company Receives Venture Funds
SJF Ventures II, LP closed on a $1.6 million investment as part of a $10 million Series A preferred financing for CleanScapes, Inc., a ten-year old recycling, organics and waste collection company with operations in Seattle and Shoreline, Washington, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. CleanScapes recently won contracts totaling $40 million annually in Shoreline and Seattle. “SJF seeks out forward-looking ventures nationwide that bring clean tech innovations to inefficient, mainstream industries and CleanScapes certainly fits the bill,” says Cody Apperson, SJF Ventures Associate. “The company’s strong environmental, civic and workforce strategies helped it win new major contracts and bring a breath of fresh air to the waste management industry.”
Adds David Kirkpatrick, SJF Ventures Managing Director: “Several of us on the SJF Ventures team worked previously in the recycling industry and we are thrilled to back CleanScapes. They have broken the old paradigm of inefficient separate recycling and waste collections by developing an integrated collections approach that allows local municipalities, businesses and citizens to capture the savings and environment benefits of waste reduction.”
CleanScapes will use new equity and debt financing to purchase a fleet of collection trucks for the new contracts. The fleet will include 40 compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks to serve their 64,000 Seattle customers in the spring of 2009, reducing emissions and neighborhood noise levels. The company will be hiring 130 new employees to provide weekly collections for one-half of Seattle homes and businesses, including the entire downtown district. Seattle’s pay-as-you-throw variable garbage fees strongly incentivize waste reduction, recycling and organics collections. CleanScapes does not own landfills but partners with municipalities to minimize landfill disposal. In 2007, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a zero waste strategy that included the expanded recycling and food and yard waste collections being implemented through the CleanScapes contract.
Municipal Solid Waste Mapped Out
New maps display the status of solid waste management in the United States. The Solid Waste Resource Map shows the geographical distribution of municipal solid waste (MSW) generation, with counties color-coded to reflect estimated annual production. The MSW Tipping Fee Map displays the range in state median tipping fees at MSW landfills, with states color-coded accordingly. The MSW Recycling Map shows estimated levels of state recycling, also color-coded. The three wall maps, which each measure 24 inches by 36 inches, were prepared by the Chartwell Solid Waste Division of the Envirobiz Group, Inc. Data in the maps is based on research and surveys conducted by Chartwell. Visit
In-Vessel Composting Of Zoo Waste
The Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, England decided to purchase an in-vessel composting system after a waste stream analysis showed it produced over 700 metric tons/year of animal residuals plus 300 metric tons/year of green waste. The zoo now uses a Hotrot 1811 system, capable of handling the 2.5 metric tons/day of animal waste, shredded paper, straw, sawdust and garden waste. Materials remain in the composting unit for 12 days. Finished compost will be used around zoo grounds, and to grow crops for the animals. Twycross Zoo aims to reduce its landfilled waste by 90 percent by summer 2009.
Food Service Company Hosts Fourth Annual “Eat Local Challenge”
Bon Appétit Management Company, a food service provider for corporations, universities and special events, recently hosted its fourth annual “Eat Local Challenge.” The company asked its chefs at more than 400 cafes around the U.S. to participate in the challenge to create a meal made entirely with ingredients grown within 150 miles. Many incorporated items from school gardens and farms, linking the meal with campus sustainability projects and education. Examples of this integration include: Seattle University used herbs from the school’s garden, and composts 25 tons/year of food waste, used on campus grounds. University of San Francisco used produce from a school garden, and charged 35 cents for each to-go container to reduce waste. Oberlin College sweetened desserts with honey from bees at the school’s farm.
“I think that the more interdisciplinary sustainability becomes, the greater the impact and reach it will have in the long run,” says Katherine Kwon, Communications Project Manager for Bon Appétit, in a press release. “Integrating Bon Appétit’s sustainable food purchasing practices with a school’s student-run garden, for example, creates the opportunity for students to experience food from beginning to end – growing, harvesting, selling, eating, composting.” For more information, visit:
Flexibility Is England’s Key To Meeting EU Landfill Targets
The Environment Agency (EA) announced in a November report that although England is well within the 2010 European Union landfill diversion target (a 25 percent reduction against 1995 levels), this is in part due to the flexibility of England’s Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (LATS). The program allows local authorities to borrow from their future and past landfill allocations, as well as buy allowances from other authorities. For 2007-08, all 121 local authorities in England were within their targets for Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW), with a total of 10.6 million metric tons of BMW landfilled out of an allowed 13.6 million metric tons. Permitted treatment options for diverting BMW include composting, anaerobic digestion, reuse, recycling and mechanical-biological treatment.
According to the EA report, 12 authorities landfilled more than originally allocated in 2007-08 (a total of 45,735 metric tons), using the flexibility of LATS. Eleven of those authorities used allowances banked from previous years, 5 bought additional allowances from other authorities, and 1 bought future allowances from its own 2008-09 allocation. For instance, Tower Hamlets landfilled 26.2 percent more BMW than originally allocated, but purchased allowances to comply. Hampshire CC, on the other hand, was able to sell 22.8 percent of its allowances to three other authorities. “We recognize that exceptional market conditions could make it more challenging for local authorities to meet recycling targets,” says Dr. Paul Leinster, Chief Executive at the EA. “However, LATS is unique in Europe in giving local authorities flexibility in how they meet their landfill diversion targets by buying, borrowing and selling allowances as market demand fluctuates.”
Association For Organics Recycling Appoints New Managing Director
Jeremy Jacobs was recently appointed as Managing Director of Association for Organics Recycling (AFOR), the United Kingdom’s leading membership organization for the composting and biological waste treatment industries. Jacobs has been with AFOR for two years. “The biowaste management sector will undergo further, fundamental change as greater emphasis is being placed on the treatment of biowastes using in-vessel composting and anaerobic digestion,” says Jacobs, who will assume responsibilities in January. More information about the association at Jacobs is on the Organizing Committee for the BioCycle International Conference 2009 (see pages 6-7).
Keep America Beautiful And Curbside Value Partnership Join Forces
The national nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful (KAB) formed a strategic alliance with the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) to increase participation in curbside recycling programs. KAB, established in 1953, has a network of nearly 1,000 affiliate and participating organizations working on programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community’s environment. The Aluminum Association and The Can Manufacturers Institute formed CVP in 2005 to increase recycling rates and sustain residential curbside programs.
On average, CVP partnering communities have seen an increase of 22 percent in recycling volume and a 20 percent increase in participation. Under the terms of the alliance, beginning in January, KAB will assume operational, fundraising and development responsibilities for CVP programs.
New Masters Program In Renewable Energy
Four universities in Ohio have collaborated to offer a new masters program in renewable energy. The two-year degree will be offered through University of Dayton (UD), Wright State University, Central State University and the Air Force Institute of Technology. Classes in the program will focus on the development of energy-reducing design techniques, renewable energy and manufacturing systems, and improvements on solar energy, fuel cells and biofuels. “As energy costs rise, the U.S., which uses two times more energy per person than Japan, Germany and France, will be put at an extreme competitive disadvantage,” says Kevin Hallinan, chair of UD’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, who will direct the new program and teach classes. “The worldwide economy cannot grow if we don’t access new energy sources.”

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