December 22, 2010 | General

Composting Facilities Service Wide Range Of Organic Waste Streams (Egypt)

BioCycle December 2010, Vol. 51, No. 12, p. 54
Windrow composting sites around Egypt process agricultural residuals, mixed MSW, biosolids, animal wastes and wood.

THE Egyptian Company for Solid Waste Recycling (ECARU) operates solid waste and composting facilities in 40 locations across Egypt, processing a variety of organics, recyclables and trash. Some receive up to 600 tons of commingled trash daily, which is sorted for recycling and processing of organic materials. Rejects, says Dr. Hisham Sherif, CEO of both ECARU and the Engineering Task Group (ENTAG), are about 35 percent of the incoming waste stream. Those are landfilled, but the possibility of combusting material to produce electricity or steam is being evaluated. Other locations receive up to 5,000 tons/day of biomass seasonally. Much of this feedstock is rice straw, which is mixed with manure to produce 100,000 tons of compost annually.
In three Egyptian governorates – Dakahlia, Gharbia and Kalubia – ECARU collects and treats 300,000 tons of agriculture waste per year. “This is the first contract of its kind in Egypt,” says Sherif. The areas serviced cover 40,000 square kilometers – 11,583 square miles, similar in size to the state of Maryland – and incorporates 35 composting sites. “Each facility covers an area of 100 square kilometers, and the overall project employs more than 1,200 people,” he adds. “ECARU plans to produce animal fodder, fuel pellets, paper pulp and medium-density fiberboard through the project’s lifetime.” ECARU has also operated a composting facility in Menia, Egypt, since 1996. Each year that facility receives approximately 30,000 tons of combined sugar beet, bagasse and aromatic plant debris and produces 10,000 tons of material under the brand name Nile Compost.
“In 2005, ECARU started its second private investment in composting plants by establishing an agricultural residues composting plant at El Nobaria on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road [the main highway connecting Egypt’s two largest cities],” adds Sherif. The plant receives 100 tons/day of animal wastes, tree trimmings, etc., and produces 10,000 tons of compost per a year.
Sherif has traveled the world to learn about and evaluate material and waste recovery processes used by others. In the United States, he found in Marvin Urbanczyk, SCARAB manufacturing’s founder, someone who shared his entrepreneurial spirit and desire to create innovative and practical solutions for a fledgling industry. Urbanczyk helped Sherif design his first MRF, which was built for a military production facility in Cairo, and the two have since collaborated on other projects.
The composting process varies somewhat between facilities but generally works as follows: Trailers loaded with agriculture waste stop at a weigh bridge at the entrance and directed to a reception area. Agriculture wastes (sugarcane, hay and straw) are piled in layers with cow manure in 3- to 4-meter-high windrows formed by material handlers. After two to three weeks, partial decomposition of wastes allows for use of windrow turners. Windrows are turned twice a week for another 60 days. Water is added as necessary to keep the humidity at a constant 60 percent (an ideal moisture content for that climate).
As the composting process reduces volume, pairs of windrows are combined twice every 30 days to make room for new material. Compost is screened by a trommel for bagging and selling in bulk. Overs from the trommel are added back into new windrows as a biological activator.
The municipal solid waste sorting and composting process consists of four main phases: receiving and presorting, sorting of recyclables and baling, treatment of the organic material by biological aerobic processing (composting) and preparation of the final product. Finished compost is screened to 10mm (about a half-inch), with the bulk of the product going to large farming operations.

Compost Products, Markets
ECARU’s Nile Compost contains the highest content of organic material, macro and micronutrients among the company’s products and brands. It is used widely in fertilizing horticultural crops, fruit trees and ornamental plants. Qatameya Organic Compost is produced at the mixed waste composting facilities and is used primarily for large-scale farming. Obour Organic Compost is produced through composting whole market waste (e.g. fruits and vegetables from Obour Market). ECARU also markets a liquid compost tea containing humic acid and other plant nutrients. “Our latest product is a 2-kilogram packaged compost,” says Sherif, adding that the bagged material is made up of the highest quality compost with fragrance plant material mixed in. It is targeted to indoor use and for small gardens.
Twelve years ago, ENTAG signed a cooperative agreement to build SCARAB compost turners in Egypt. Under the agreement, 59 machines have rolled off the assembly line. All are being utilized by ENTAG, which has also imported more than a half dozen of the turners from the U.S. – Dan Sullivan

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