January 30, 2006 | General

Editorial: Linking Solid Waste With Quality Of Life

BioCycle January 2006, Vol. 47, No. 1, p. 4

More than ever, the 22nd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference in Portland, Oregon March 20-22, 2006 makes the connections between waste management and quality of life issues abundantly clear. Whether it’s material resources, renewable energy or income-generating products, the processing, composting and transformation of solid wastes are now viewed as significant to our society. From the opening plenary session which includes analyses of renewable power resources and biomass conversion to sustainability in our soils, water and communities, presenters will provide the conceptual framework along with the hands-on strategies that achieve meaningful recovery on the road from discards to resources.
Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (OSD) exemplifies how municipal needs are connected. Its staff is constantly in the midst of decisions that range from solid waste collection and recycling, to local food actions and green building. “We have policies that make long-term thinking possible,” says Susan Anderson, OSD executive director. “We have support from nonprofits and government partners. And mostly we have the people of Portland, this community spirit that shows we aren’t afraid to tackle the big issues.”
Local and regional projects span the major responsibilities that are facing both the private and public sectors – from getting the funds to implement them to rousing support to get the work done. Examples include the ReBuilding Center which generates reclaimed products from discards like two-by-fours and kitchen cabinets with profits going to improve neighborhoods; City Repair Project which creates public spaces; and Arc of Multnomah Clackamas that employs disabled workers to create ecofriendly products from 200 tons/year of surplus burlap bags.
Sessions at the BioCycle West Coast Conference will show what’s happening – and planned – throughout the region: Organics Recycling and the Future of MSW Management; How Agencies and Companies Are Accelerating Composting and Organics Diversion; Anaerobic Digestion Technologies for MSW Organics; Strategies to Optimize Compost Facility Success; Food Residuals Recycling; and Expanding Markets.
Other Conference topics will provide details on storm water management, runoff reduction plus improved water quality using compost-amended filter strips; reclaimed water recycling initiatives, and how plants are expanding markets for Class A biosolids. There will be additional sessions on evaluating biodegradable bag compostability; matching generator realities to processor realities; compost effects on soil properties and nutrient management; reducing sewer overflows; funding sources for renewable power and how a utility district is creating a financially sustainable energy infrastructure. Energy independence and waste recycling will be covered in several presentations to illustrate how practical, profitable goals are being achieved.

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