BioCycle October 2017
Des Moines, Iowa: Applying Compost To Capitol Grounds
Work crews applied layers of compost to lawns on the Iowa Capitol grounds using a blower truck in September to improve soil quality and reduce storm water runoff. The $24,000 project represents a partnership between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Administrative Services, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with technical assistance from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship urban conservation program.
“Soil quality restoration is something that people also can do in their own backyards to improve the water quality in their neighborhood creek or other local water body,” notes Steve Konrady of the DNR’s Watershed Improvement Program.. “It also makes their yard look great. Some communities in Iowa offer assistance to homeowners for soil quality restoration, and this Capitol Terrace project is a great opportunity to demonstrate the practice to Iowans.”
State Rep. Chuck Isenhart, who has pushed for water quality improvements in Iowa, said in an interview with USA Today that the Iowa Capitol is at one of the highest points in Des Moines and that rainwater naturally flows downhill from the west side of the Capitol complex. “Soil health is one of the single biggest natural resources concerns that we have in this state,” Isenhart explained. “When you look at farmland, soil compaction and a loss of organic matter all contribute to sedimentation in streams. Putting organic matter into soil is one of the major long-term investments we should be doing in this state.”
Encinitas, California: Mid-Scale Composting Training
Solana Center in San Diego County has decades of experience conducting composting trainings, but until recently, its programs primarily focused on residential composting. Recognizing the needs of organizations to manage food scraps on-site, Solana Center joined forces with the County of San Diego and Hidden Resources in 2016 to create an introductory mid-scale composting workshop series that included two workshops, a hands-on build and six field trip options. The Center defines mid-scale as working with more material than one would at a residential level, but less than that which would require permitting. A permit is required for over 100 cubic yards of materials on-site. A motivator for creating the training is future compliance with California’s AB 1826, which requires generators of 4 cubic yards/week or more of organics (including food scraps and green waste) to divert that material from landfill disposal.
• Vermicomposting: Preconsumer food scraps; 30-foot mechanized through-flow bin.
• Aerated static piles: Kitchen food scraps, horse manure and bedding, and landscaping material; 8-cy and 10-cy wooden bins designed by O2 Compost.
• In-vessel: Greens and browns from the Del Mar Fairgrounds; a 1.4-cy Green Mountain Technologies Earth Cube, with solar-powered aeration, to be installed soon.
• Dual-chambered tumbler: Kitchen food scraps, and greens and browns from the Fairgrounds; 3-cy tumbler for traditional composting; demonstrating, along with the Earth Cube, aggressive vector control strategy.
• Black soldier fly larvae nursery: Pre and postconsumer food scraps; observation tank will be connected to a chicken coop where the self-harvesting larvae will become protein-rich food source for chickens.
• Bokashi pretreatment system: Postconsumer food scraps with bokashi-inoculated bran; 5-gallon bucket with airtight lid allows greens to be stockpiled until Solana Center staff is ready to use them.
Aesthetics and strict adherence to local land and water use regulations, as well as mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, are very important at this site, which is managed by the state of California. Each of the displays has signage, which describes how the method scales up, and lists pros and cons of the system. Solana Center is continuing to develop the site, acquiring more tools and equipment and creating an outdoor classroom.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Campus Composting Contaminant Management
Compost Crusader, a Milwaukee area boutique organics collection company founded in 2013 by Melissa Tashjian, reports that Marquette University has begun year two of its on-campus pre and postconsumer food waste diversion program. Collection is available at seven locations, with approximately one ton/week of material being diverted. “The challenge in this undertaking is that in a cafeteria setting, the responsibility to sort what is compostable is shared among the hundreds of people who have access to the compost receptacle,” notes Tashjian. “Big colorful signs next to the compost bins are something that Marquette has consistently improved on. Volunteer groups were responsible for signage in the last year, but now the University has improved signage over the bins by using actual pictures of products served in the cafeteria. That helps with any language barriers and takes some of the guess work out of sorting.”
Another tool to reduce contamination is employing staff and volunteer ambassadors to monitor the sorting bins. “Myself and others from our student environmental organization volunteered at our larger cafeteria whenever we were available during peak times, and the cafeteria itself sent out employees to monitor the compost bins,” says Hannah Badeau, president of Students for an Environmentally Active Campus. “This strategy is vital to reach the students who are not paying attention, or are not interested in composting. Although it may seem like a burden to staff compost bins during peak hours, it’s a vital component of the composting initiative.”
Los Angeles, California: Residents Reduce GHG Emissions, Water Demand In 10 Cities
Global Green USA, a nonprofit organization advocating a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future, instituted a food scrap reduction and composting program in 31 new buildings in 10 cities in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Areas in 2016 and 2017. Over 650 households were educated about the benefits of composting food scraps and provided valuable training and resources, which led to nearly 85,000 lbs or 42.5 tons of organic waste being composted. These significant results were achieved through the cradle-to-cradle explanation of organics diversion (seed to food, food to waste, waste to soil, soil to seed), to help residents feel a deeper understanding of why food scrap diversion is important.
Global Green first launched the food scrap pilot project in 2014 in downtown Los Angeles and Albany, California. The project’s goal to divert food scraps from landfills and determine the best practices in effective tenant outreach and engagement that could guide large-scale programs gained a lot of momentum in 2016 with the support of funding from the Walmart Foundation. Global Green expanded to 17 new mostly low to middle-income multi-family dwellings (MFDs) in Los Angeles County and 14 in the San Francisco Bay Area, including four control sites that served as test markets to measure the success of new tenant education programs and food scrap engagement.
Global Green is working in collaboration with municipalities, housing associations, haulers and property managers throughout this initiative, including the City of Santa Monica, the San Francisco Department of Environment, Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority Recycle Smart, South Bayside Waste Management Authority Rethink Waste, and Athens Services.
Through an innovative, community “Eco-Ambassador” Program, Global Green was able to exceed its goal of 500 multifamily building residents, reaching over 650 households through this grassroots outreach method which included informational brochures, one on one discussions, and overcoming language barriers through translated materials in Spanish, Chinese and Russian and outreach with bilingual staff.
Global Green USA Report: Piloting Food Scrap Diversion In Multi-Family Buildings
College Park, Maryland: Dining Anytime Increases Compostables Diversion
The University of Maryland (UMD) adopted an “Anytime Dining” plan that includes unlimited access to campus dining halls whenever they are open, replacing point-based plans with this all-your-care-to-eat setup. At the same time, disposable products were eliminated from the dining halls completely. In the past, 6.3 million disposable products from the dining halls ended up in the waste stream and as landfill trash, according to the UMD Sustainability Office. Students place their plates and cups with leftovers onto the conveyor belt, which then travels to the kitchen to have all food diverted to composting and all dishes and utensils washed. The University found that the dish conveyor belt helps facilitate an easy transition to disposable-free dining and assists in making food waste separation easier. In the first year of the anytime dining program, Dining Services increased compostables collection by 48% and recycling by 20%. “This new dining plan has a dramatic impact not just on dining service, but on the campus as a whole,” Allison Tjaden, Dining Services assistant director of new initiatives told The Diamondback campus newspaper. “It keeps waste associated with food service inside the dining halls, which gives us a better opportunity to collect compostables with a staff who is trained in separating items.”
Organics collection is now an option at more than 25 locations on campus including 12 residence halls, McKeldin Library, Edward St John Learning and Teaching Center, Maryland Stadium on game days, and the Stamp Student Union. Collected organics are taken to the Prince George’s County Organics Composting Facility.