BioCycle August 2016
Production of August BioCycle overlaps with the Summer Olympic games in Rio. Watching athletes from around the world put themselves out there in hopes of winning the gold is inspiring, sometimes breathtaking. The rigor of training, the intensity of competition, the dedication and discipline — are there parallels to our world of organics recycling?
First there is the obvious. Retail compost products with names like Black Gold, Gardeners’ Gold and Glacier Gold. What about gold medals? The first hit on a Google search, “’gold’ medal of composting,” was a 2004 BioCycle article, “Gold Medal For Composting Is Only One-Third The Story.” This was a feature on EKO Systems’ composting site in Maui, which had received the Gold 2004 Composting Excellence Award from the Solid Waste Association of North America.
What about other parallels with Olympic athletes? Consider the following:
Rigor of Training: From source separation of organics to manufacturing of high quality products, training is a must for organics recyclers. Training — and retraining — is one of the most effective methods to keep contaminants out of organic waste streams. Training operators is a number one priority for composting and anaerobic digestion facilities, and organics collection services. The art and the science of successfully turning organic waste into “gold” is being a master of managing microbes, aka, biological activity.
Intensity of Competition: Competition is intense, not from other composters or digesters necessarily, but from solid waste haulers and landfills that want the same feedstocks. Increasingly, to win the gold in organics recycling, the key is to focus on building and supplying end markets with renewable power, fuels, compost and digestate.
Dedication: Slam dunk. Organics recyclers are one dedicated bunch.
Discipline: Successfully managing microbes — especially when zillions are in piles or tanks or waiting to be collected — requires similar diligence and discipline practiced by peak performing athletes of any age, Olympian or not. Fortunately, today’s organics recyclers have the knowledge, equipment and systems to facilitate the tasks required to be a gold-winning operation.
What about fun? Frankly, I don’t know how much fun these Olympians are really having, given the intensity and stress of competition. But it must be thrilling to be in Rio and beyond joyful to actually win a medal.
As for organics recyclers, what can be more fun than spinning “garbage into gold”? Each time we tour organics recycling operations, there is the thrill of watching feedstocks being unloaded, the piles or tanks neatly lined up, and the compost or digestate dropping from the screens. Better yet are the customers pulling up to the retail yard, buying various compost products and blends.
In his 1970 book, Garbage As You Like It—A Plan to Stop Pollution By Using Our Nation’s Waste, BioCycle founder Jerome Goldstein wrote in the chapter titled, “Composting—Waste Treatment For The Future: “You may never have heard the word ‘compost’ before, let alone have any firsthand knowledge of soil improvement. By the time you have finished this book, I hope your definition of the word ‘compost’ will be ‘hope for a new, cleaner, healthier, pleasanter kind of world.’”
On that note, let’s all go for the gold.