Dirt Hugger, a source separated organics composting facility in Dallesport, Washington, received the Washington State Recycling Association’s Recycler of the Year award in early November. Founded in 2010, Dirt Hugger receives about 35,000 tons/year of residentially collected yard trimmings and food waste, commercial food waste (from restaurants, groceries, and schools), whole fruit waste, cherry sludge from fruit processing, beer waste and beer yeast waste (about 18,000 gallons/week), wood waste, and brush. Feedstocks come from generators throughout the Columbia River Gorge region, including the Portland, Oregon metro region. “The nomination of Dirt Hugger for the award was due, in part, to the successful roll out and implementation of the City of Vancouver’s (WA) curbside food waste with yard debris composting program,” notes Pierce Louis, cofounder and CEO of Dirt Hugger. “A properly designed program, with great outreach, and logistics are key to creating clean material and a sustainable program in Vancouver. Over 17,000 tons of organic materials from the program (over 680 semi-truck loads) have been composted at our facility, yielding over 40,000 cubic yards of compost that has been sold to local orchards, vineyards, farms, and gardens throughout the Pacific Northwest.”
The composting site is on a 9-acre parcel just across the Columbia River from Hood River, Oregon. Louis and co-founder Tyler Miller invested in a Green Mountain Technologies’ in-floor aeration system capable of positive/negative air flow. Active composting takes 14 days in an 8-foot high mass bed aerated static pile (ASP); curing is done in turned windrows on cement-stabilized soil. Heat is recovered from the aeration pad via PEX tubing, and used in the office building and machine shop.
When he accepted the award, Louis cited five major business changes in the past year. Highlights include:
- A recovered, reusable, and returnable bucket system for selling packaged compost product, which displaces plastic bagged compost
- Facility expansion and upgrades, including negative aeration with biofiltration
- New, end-to-end orchard and vineyard compost application services
- New orchard debris shredding services, which offsets orchard burning
- Six new team members, expanding the roster to 22 Dirt Hugger employees