BioCycle November/December 2018
Marriottsville, Maryland: Alpha Ridge Composting Expansion
The Howard County Department of Public Works completed a significant expansion to its yard trimmings, food scraps and horse manure composting facility at the Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville in October, more than doubling its processing capacity from 4,000 tons/year to 8,000 tons/year. The facility uses Engineered Compost Systems negative aerated static pile technology (sparger floor during construction shown) and has added 10 concrete bunkers with moisture and odor control systems. Previously, composting was managed in aerated above ground piles with the capacity of only four bunkers. New processing procedures will be refined during the annual surge of fall yard trimmings collections. Additional infrastructure improvements will include roadways, enhanced water pumps and a building to house the grinding machinery.
Incoming organics are first put through a grinder. Moisture is added to the ground material and composted for 45 days, followed by 60 days of curing. Finished compost is screened and utilized to make “HoCoGro” blended topsoil for use on county projects, as well as for retail sales to residents, landscapers and wholesale customers. Product is sold by the cubic yard; there is a list of contractors who will deliver the materials in bulk for an additional fee.
The Howard County food scraps and yard trimmings composting project began in 2012 as a pilot program for about 5,000 homes and was doubled in 2013 based on its success. The county also currently collects food scraps from seven county schools. Beginning in the spring of 2019, curbside food scraps collections will be offered in three additional collection zones, an increase from 14,000 homes in Elkridge and Clarksville to approximately 30,000 total households. The county is currently reviewing collection data to determine the additional zones.
Hawaii, Illinois, California: New State Laws Encourage Compost Use
Hawaii: HB1577 became law in June 2018, requiring the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to establish a 3-year pilot program to provide reimbursements to farmers and ranchers when they purchase compost from a certified processor, dealer, retailer, or wholesaler licensed to do business in the state. Available money will be distributed on a first come, first served basis, with no single farmer or rancher to receive a reimbursement total of more than $50,000/year. The new law also requires the Department of Agriculture to establish a compost reimbursement pilot program manager position; the manager will facilitate the division and distribution of available costs for reimbursement and day-to-day coordination of the compost reimbursement pilot. The legislature views food waste diversion to composting as a tool to help move the state toward the Aloha+Challenge commitment of 70 percent waste stream reduction by 2025. It appropriated $1 million to fund the program in FY 2018-2019.
Illinois: A new law, the Compost-Amended Soil Construction Act (HB4790), requires that any state agency undertaking a construction project that incorporates use of offsite soil — and that is located within 20 miles of any Illinois Environmental Protection Agency-permitted composting facility — must request a separate bid for compost-amended soil for that project. “Compost-amended soil” is defined as soil that has been mixed with source separated landscape waste or a mixture of both source separated landscape waste and source separated food scraps to meet an organic matter content of not less than 25 percent, and where the compost component meets the certification requirements of the US Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program or any other equivalent, nationally recognized program.
In the 2019 calendar year, the Illinois Department of Transportation must conduct two pilot road construction demonstrations using compost-amended soil. Within one year of substantial completion of both projects, the Department shall report to the General Assembly stating the immediate cost of construction, long-term operational cost savings, and advantages and disadvantages of using compost-amended soil.
California: AB 2411 was signed into law in August 2018. It requires the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), on or before December 31, 2019, to develop and implement a plan to maximize use of compost for slope stabilization and for establishing vegetation in the course of providing debris removal services following a wildfire. CalRecycle, in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), must identify best practices for each of CalTrans’ 12 districts regarding cost-effective use of compost along roadways and to develop a plan to implement the identified best practices in each of the districts. The best practices must be reviewed by CalRecycle at least once every 5 years and be updated as necessary.
Columbus, Ohio: State Finalizes New Composting Rules
On October 1, 2018, the State of Ohio adopted its latest revisions to the state’s compost rules. Highlights are:
• General permitting exemption for small facilities accepting yard trimmings, animal waste and food scraps increased from 300 to 500 square feet (area based exemption).
• Define vermicomposting as a composting method, thus clarifying that the compost quality standards can be used for marketing of vermicompost.
• Define vermiculture and excludes these activities from regulatory requirements.
• Recognizes acidic anaerobic fermentation (bokashi) as a conditioning method for organic materials.
• New operational rule for off-farm composting of dead animals and raw rendering materials that eliminates the need for site-specific approvals and expands the classes of facilities that will be able to compost these materials.
• Operators will now be able to work with their inspector and customize their record keeping schedule, reducing paper work for seasonal facilities.
• Spent coffee and tea grounds are now considered an additive and not a food waste, which allows all classes of facilities to accept these materials.
• All classes of facilities will now be able to request site-specific approvals for pilot projects and alternative materials (with some class-specific limitations).
• Strengthened recognition of the TMECC protocols in the compost quality standards requirements.
• Revised construction and design performance standards aligned with storm water and wastewater management Best Management Practices.