With almost 30 years of organics processing under its belt, Iowa-based Chamness Technology manages a variety of feedstocks in several states.
BioCycle January 2015
Based in Blairsburg, Iowa, Chamness Technology has grown to become one of the largest organics recyclers in the Midwest. Founded in 1986, Chamness originally focused on remedial cleanup of agricultural, industrial and municipal wastewater sites — activities it’s still involved in. The firm opened its first regional composting facility in 1999 in Eddyville, Iowa — a 40-acre site that receives and processes about 70,000 tons of organic material a year, according to Dave Klockau, the company’s director of sales and marketing. Today, Chamness is involved in composting, wood grinding and wastewater treatment lagoon cleaning at multiple sites.
In 2011, Chamness launched a sister company, Green RU, which collects commercial food waste and brings it to the Eddyville site for composting. Green RU collects 400 tons a month of pre and postconsumer food waste from Iowa grocery stores, restaurants and hospital, school and factory cafeteria operations, including a nearby Cargill plant.
“A number of major companies, both manufacturers and large retailers, are really serious about reducing their waste stream and setting ‘zero waste’ goals,” notes Klockau. “But all of the low-hanging fruit has been picked; we’re now at the next stage in going after the organic waste stream to meet clients’ zero waste goals.” Some of Chamness’ major commercial and industrial organics recycling customers are Cargill, Hormel, Archer Daniels Midland, Costco, Hy-Vee John Deere and West Liberty Foods. Hy-Vee has a number of its stores throughout Iowa on the composting program. Collectively, these stores have diverted more than 1,500 tons of food waste for composting since beginning the program in 2012.
Collection And Composting
For its Eddyville site, Chamness has a fleet of tankers, side-dump trailers, sludge trailers, walking-floor trailers, and roll-off trailers to pick up organic material from sources in an area roughly one-third of Iowa. “It’s a big advantage to be able to provide transportation,” with the costs covered in the fees paid by customers,” he adds.
The Eddyville facility typically maintains 11 composting windrows, each about 600 feet long, and 8 feet wide by 8 to 10 feet in height, according to equipment manager Les Gunderson. Frequency of turning varies with the time of year; the average curing time for compost is about 91 days. Materials handling and processing equipment includes Morbark grinders, an ALLU AS-38H compost turner, Case 1021F skid loader and a New Holland TG305 ag tractor with tool bar. The facility also processes about 25,000 tons of wood waste annually. When using the wood as a carbon source and structure for composting, “you either have more than you need or not enough,” notes Klockau. “We have explored the possibilities for marketing wood mulch as a separate product.” Along with wood waste, another future source of carbon for composting is finely-ground corn stover from cellulosic ethanol plants. Agricultural and horticultural grades of compost are manufactured. Prices range from $8 to $20/ton.
Chamness also processes wood waste, yard trimmings and dimensional lumber (from pallets) at sites in Ames and Des Moines, Iowa, using mobile Morbark grinding equipment. The yard trimmings facility in Ames is operated in partnership with the city of Ames., and is open annually from April 1 to October 15. During regular business hours, the site accepts yard trimmings, leaves and tree waste for a fee. On four days each fall, yard trimmings can be dropped off for free.
Chamness also has smaller facilities in Blair and Grand Island, Nebraska, where biosolids from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants and meat processors are applied to adjacent farmland. The Blair facility handles about 25,000 tons/year of material; Grand Island manages about 52,000 tons/year. Chamness operates a second composting facility in Dodge City, Kansas that processes about 60,000 tons of organic waste annually, including yard trimmings and agricultural and food processing residuals.
Klockau emphasizes the importance of analyzing the content of all organic material before accepting it at composting sites. “It’s true in any kind of recycling: you need to know exactly how much material you’re dealing with and what the composition is,” he says. “We don’t take anything until we have run it through our own analysis. That’s also true from the logistics side. With the exception of eggs in fiber cartons, we generally require that any kind of commercial food product must be depackaged. It really raises production costs if we have to ‘screen out’ packaging, such as removing plastic liners in food product containers.” However, Chamness has taken on certain types of manual depackaging projects with preapproved loads, typically ones from food product warehouses.
Operating multiple sites requires a hefty investment in equipment. In addition to its collection and trucking fleet, Chamness has more than 40 different pieces of heavy material handling equipment, including wheel loaders, skid steers and excavators. It recently added a Case Tier 4 Interim 921F wheel loader equipped with Selective Catalytic Technology, which should save between $17,570 and $30,120 in fuel savings per year, according to Case.
Dan Emerson is a Contributing Editor to BioCycle.