Charleston County’s (SC) Bees Ferry windrow composting facility opened in 1993 to process about 20,000 tons/year of yard trimmings. It began accepting food waste from commercial businesses in 2010-2011 as part of a pilot program, operating under a Research, Demonstration and Development (RD&D) permit. Today, the facility is permitted as Type 2; up to 132,000 cubic yards of material is allowed on site at any given time. It receives about 80,000 tons/year of yard trimmings and food waste. The site is designed for up to 80,000 tons of yard trimmings and 52,000 tons of food waste annually.
Until recently, the county operated the Bees Ferry facility. In Winter 2020, it decided to privatize the operational component, issuing a bid for proposals. North Carolina-based McGill Environmental Systems was officially awarded a 10-year contract (with renewals) in early July 2020. Although McGill is new to Charleston County, it has been growing its market for McGill SportsTurf and SoilBuilder in South Carolina for several years. The Charleston facility is already registered under the US Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance program and McGill plans to dedicate significant resources to developing markets for a range compost and mulch products that will be manufactured on site.
“There are many reasons for us to be excited about Charleston,” notes Kate Sullivan, Project Manager with McGill. “It’s a wonderful place to do business, with a long growing season and matching compost sales potential. The County really cares about recycling and the environment and maybe most of all is a model for the future where public infrastructure is combined with private sector capital and expertise to bring the most benefit to the citizens and the environment.”
McGill currently operates facilities in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Ireland. When fully operational the Charleston facility will take McGill’s annual processing past 500,000 tons. Its newest facility is being developed on a 15.5-acre property in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. The site will accept about 130,000 tons/year of yard trimmings, food waste and biosolids.