March 23, 2011 | General

Composting Roundup

BioCycle March 2011, Vol. 52, No. 3, p. 12

Valley Park, Missouri
St. Louis Composting, Inc. has acquired Organic Resource Management, Inc. (ORMI), a large-scale, commercial composting facility located in north St. Louis County. The purchase will help St. Louis Composting continue its growth as the largest compost producer in the region. “Now that we have a physical presence in north St. Louis County, we can more efficiently provide products and services to our regional customer base,” says Patrick Geraty, president of St. Louis Composting. “The acquisition will generate greater operational efficiencies, significantly increase our production and allow us to provide customers with additional compost, mulch and soil blends.”
For now, ORMI will continue to operate under its original name with a subtitle depicting it as part of St. Louis Composting. “The companies will gradually integrate in coming months,” says Geraty. He and his wife, Rebecca Geraty, teamed to negotiate the acquisition with Jim and Kim Wolterman, who cofounded ORMI in 1992. “In the current marketplace, it just makes sense to combine the resources of ORMI and St. Louis Composting,” explains Jim Wolterman. “The sale will allow me to focus exclusively on SWT Design, a landscape architecture and urban design firm that I cofounded 16 years ago.”
Geraty notes that the acquisition increases St. Louis Composting’s annual processing capacity by about 100,000 cy a year, expanding the company’s overall capacity to 600,000 cy annually. “Currently we are processing more than 100 tons of out-of-date food and food processing by-products per week,” he adds. “We hope to be processing even more organic food waste in the future as we recruit businesses that generate volumes of food waste and other organics to participate.”
St. Louis Composting maintains a 4-acre transfer station in Maryland Heights, Missouri and a 10-acre composting and retail facility in the city of St. Louis. It also operates a 52-acre composting and retail facility in Belleville, Illinois.
Newton, Massachusetts
The city of Newton began composting leaves in November 1986 at the former 25-acre Rumford Avenue landfill, which had been closed for nine years. DEP allowed Newton to continue using the site for the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) composting operations. The first year, approximately 925 tons of leaves were collected from city properties with street sweepers and vacuums. “At this time, residential leaves and grass clippings were still considered part of trash,” notes Elaine Gentile, Director of Environmental Affairs for the City of Newton. In 1990, with passage of a ban on landfilling yard trimmings, Newton also began collecting residential yard trimmings separately at curbside and hauling it to a different composting facility. “The City needed space for its DPW operations at the compost site,” explains Gentile. It still continued to collect leaves from city properties for composting.
In 2009, Newton negotiated a new collection and hauling contract. “As yard waste hauling and tipping costs became a factor, Newton negotiated for the contractor to bring all yard waste collected at curbside to Rumford Avenue for composting,” says Gentile. The program began with leaves only in October 2009 and expanded to all yard trimmings in spring 2010. The City purchased a 4-cubic yard (cy) ALLU Screener Crusher bucket for the front-end loader. “This can grind the yard waste material instead of just turning it, shortening the production time,” explains Gentile. In 2010, a second loader and 5-cy ALLU bucket was added, along with a Doppstadt trommel that can screen 100-cy/hour of compost. “The second loader, bucket and trommel were added to increase production of compost for sale to offset DPW collection costs,” says Gentile. “As the City was going to increase its composting, it made sense to have the equipment available on site as needed versus renting.”
Winter Haven, Florida
The Florida Organics Recycling Center for Excellence (FORCE) kicked off its second composting pilot in October 2010. The project focuses on composting preconsumer vegetative food waste from supermarkets at a registered yard trimmings processing facility. Food waste is being collected from three Publix Supermarkets by Florida Refuse and delivered for composting to the Polk County Landfill Yard Waste Facility. Kessler Consulting, Inc., is managing the project and providing technical assistance to project partners. The pilot will evaluate design and operations protocols for composting food waste. The goal is to demonstrate what can be accomplished under the revised Chapter 62-709 F.A.C. rules for organics recycling, which created a registration process for source separated preconsumer food waste composting. Collection and composting activities are being closely monitored so that practical information regarding operational procedures, best practices, feedstock and compost quality and economics can be utilized by Florida’s organics recycling community.
Seattle, Washington
In 2009, the University of Washington (UW) reported diverting 63.74 tons of recycling and compostable materials at home Husky football games. To help reach its 2010 goal of recycling an additional 10 percent, school officials increased the number of recycling and composting bins in and around the facility, increased waste diversion staffing and created an outreach campaign unique to UW athletics. At the end of the 2010/2011 regular football season, the Huskies had increased recycling from 30 percent to 51 percent.
New initiatives included a new in-game promotion called the Green Minute whereby Husky Stadium ushers and stadium management provided fans with information about recycling and composting inside Husky Stadium. “The Green Minute is a mechanism aimed at increasing our recycling totals and generating awareness of recycling practices in Husky Stadium,” said Karen Baebler, assistant athletic director for Sports Operations. The program, branded “Go Purple: Be Gold and Green,” resulted from a partnership between the UW Intercollegiate Athletics Department and UW’s Recycling & Solid Waste Department.
Whatcom County, Washington
Following a wave of crop damage related to herbicide-tainted compost (see “Persistent Pesticide as Organics Recycling Foe,” August 2010), DOW Agrisciences is petitioning the USEPA to restrict the use of its aminopyralid-based products to hay, grasses and forage crops that do not leave the farm. During the 2010 growing season, Whatcom County Extension fielded up to 100 phone calls from farmers and backyard gardeners concerned that they may have applied compost made with manure originating from dairy farms that had applied aminopyralid, an herbicide used to control noxious weeds such as Canada thistle. One farmer reported $250,000 in crop damage. DOW products containing aminopyralid include “Banish,” “Milestone” and “Forefront.”
DOW officials contend that if the label directions had been followed, the contamination never would have happened. The original usage label states: “Do not spread manure from animals that have grazed or consumed forage or eaten hay from treated areas within the previous three days of [application] on land used to grow susceptible broadleaf crops.” The label goes on to explain that such manures may only be safely applied to pasture grasses, grass grown for seed and wheat, and warns: “Do not plant a broadleaf crop in fields treated in the previous year with manure from animals that have grazed forage or eaten hay harvested from aminopyralid-treated areas until an adequately sensitive field bioassay is conducted to determine that the aminopyralid concentration in the soil is at a level that is not injurious to the crop to be planted.”
Wilmington, Delaware
The Wilmington Organic Recycling Center (WORC), owned and operated by Peninsula Compost Co., is now listed with the Climate Action Reserve’s greenhouse gas offsetting program. When at capacity, the urban facility permitted and outfitted to take in an average of 550 tons of feedstock a day will turn food waste, cleaned woody construction debris, yard and landscape trimmings into around 100,000 tons of compost annually. The WORC facility was conceived when the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) first began considering a ban on disposal of yard trimmings. Now that ban is in place. Carbon offsets are only available for diversion of those materials not expressly banned from the landfills, which amounts to about two-thirds of what the WORC facility processes. “The Wilmington Organics facility has proven that large-scale food waste composting is needed and sustainable in urban America,” says Nelson Widell, a partner in Peninsula Compost Co. “Additionally, WORC is reducing greenhouse gas emissions through landfill diversion, equal to taking 8,000 cars off the roads.”

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