July 25, 2005 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle July 2005, Vol. 46, No. 7, p. 18

Seattle, Washington
By mid-June, Seattle had distributed 45,000 of the planned 90,000 carts to be used for food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings, reported the Seattle Times. The city is distributing the 96-gallon wheeled containers neighborhood by neighborhood to residential subscribers, and distribution should be completed by the end of August. Carts will be collected every other week year-round, and will be emptied by a hydraulic lift. Primary reason for the new carts is to lessen the lifting danger to recycling and trash collectors. Notes the newspaper: The carts are part of the city’s recycling initiative, which has set a 60 percent recovery rate. Today that number is about 40 percent, up from 20 percent in the early 1990s. About 30 percent of residential trash is food and soiled paper. Organic residuals will go to Cedar Grove Composting in nearby Maple Valley. As explained by Hans Van Dusen, solid waste contracts manager for Waste Management, it costs Seattle $50/ton to dump its garbage at the Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, Oregon. “This is a great resource. It’s cheaper to take this as compost than garbage.” Anything cheaper than $50/ton means the city is saving money. Seattle pays Cedar Grove $23/ton to accept material for use as a compost feedstock, excluding labor.
Grove City, Ohio
Ground has been broken by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) and FirmGreen of Newport Beach, California to construct an $18-million Green Energy Center. The process will convert landfill gas from the Franklin County site into methane and CO2. When operational, the Center will produce 7 million-gallons of methanol annually, reduce greenhouse gases in an amount equal to removal of nearly 2,000 cars, and reduce oil consumption by 20,800 barrels.
First phase of the project will provide electricity to power SWACO’s administration and maintenance buildings, cutting energy costs and making the Authority 95 percent energy self-sufficient. “This is just the beginning of a very promising economic development story,” says SWACO executive director Mike Long.
The second phase of the project will involve the cleaning and conversion of landfill gas into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which will fuel transfer trucks and other SWACO vehicles. Around $100,000/year in fleet fuel costs will be saved. The same landfill gas CNG processes could power school and transit buses locally.
The Green Energy Center is designed to be part of a green business park on a 225 acre site across from the landfill. Fueled by landfill gas, the new Pyramid Resource Center promises “green construction standards, a park-like campus and a hub center for R&D.”
Minneapolis, Minnesota
The USDA’s Forest Service awarded the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) a $250,000 grant last month to help promote growth of the biomass energy market in northern Minnesota. As part of the grant, IATP will partner with the Superior National Forest, the Laurentian Energy Authority and Forest Management Systems, a cooperative logging business.
With its large amount of woody residuals, Northern Minnesota provides a good ecosystem to support a biomass energy plant. The Virginia and Hibbing Public Utilities, through its partnership known as Laurentian Energy, plan to refit their power generation facilities to use woody materials under contract to Excel Energy. “Biomass energy is an exciting opportunity to improve forest and land management, generate renewable energy and support the local economy,” says Don Arnosti, IATP Forestry Director.
Project partners will conduct 12 test biomass harvests on approximately 180 acres. Three common forest conditions will be test-harvested utilizing several different combinations of equipment. Research data will also help update Minnesota “Best Management Practices” to include sustainable biomass removal parameters that safeguard future site productivity and protect wildlife habitats.
New York, New York
With almost a year’s experience of using biodegradable plastic containers for its salads, fruit and sandwiches at dining locations all over campus, Columbia University staff are very satisfied with the switch. As Larry Levitas, Director of Dining Services, phrases it: “You really can’t tell,” which may explain why so many students don’t realize that the packaging is made from yellow corn instead of petroleum and it comes from distributor Cargill Dow and is made by NatureWorks PLA. Adds Levitas: “We’re Columbia, so we should be at the forefront.” It’s likely that all plastic products such as cutlery and cups will eventually be phased out, he adds. Points out senior Jessica DeCamillo who is community coordinator for the Earth Coalition: “Anything that reduces the waste that this university produces is a great thing.”
Plover, Wisconsin
The June 2005 issue of AROW, compiled by the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin, lists many examples of high performance such as:
New Method to Recycle Corrugated Paper Fiber – By removing polymer tape and plastic contaminants from the paper fiber, Green Bay Packaging has kept 2,000 tons of material a month from being landfilled. “That’s a cost savings of about $18,000/month,” says Mike Deprey of the packaging firm.
Along with Newark Recycled Fibers and Onyx Waste Services, Green Bay Packaging received the 2005 Brown County Business Recycling Award for waste minimization. Newark Recycled also determined the fiber could be used as center sheet filler for paperboard made by Wisconsin Paperboard in Milwaukee. Green Bay Packaging installed a screw press to remove water from the paper sludge so that transport by Onyx would make fiscal sense.
Fort McCoy Surpassed Recycling Goals – Located near Tomah, Wisconsin, the military base in 2004 recycled more than 570,000 pounds of cardboard, 1.4 million pounds of scrap metals, more than 290,000 pounds of mixed pa-per, 6,500 pounds of computer paper, more than 88,000 pounds of brass, more than 8,000 pounds of toner cartridges, and over 8,800 pounds of plastic glass. Many of these items are banned from Wisconsin landfills. The base has increased its solid waste recycling to 40.5 percent during 2004.
Tire Recycling At ARC – The Auburndale Recycling Center now recovers nearly two million tires annually for usable rubber products and tire derived fuel. Collecting tires from Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio, ARC is the state’s largest processor – and has the capacity “for much more.”
Other examples cited are Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, Cardinal Glass Industries and VT Griffin Services. For more details, visit:
Annapolis, Maryland
“From dairy production in Pennsylvania to poultry and cattle farming in the Shenadoah Valley and the thriving grain and chicken industries on Delmarva, all contribute huge amounts of manure pollution,” reports the June 2005 issue of Save The Bay, published by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). There are 185 million livestock animals in the watershed, more than 11 times the human population. The region’s livestock each year produce 44 million tons of manure, most spread on farmland with limited capacity to absorb it, as the remainder runs off into local waterways. Scientists have identified Virginia’s Shenandoah. Valley, Pennsylvania’s lower Susquehanna River basin and the Delmarva Peninsula as the region’s agricultural pollution “Hot Spots”. These areas generate 54 percent of the N pollution from manure, where 200,000 tons more manure are produced than can be used on a sustainable basis. “It’s imperative that farming remain profitable and environmental stewardship is rewarded,” says Michael Heller of CBF. “The Bay region can and should lead the work in the efficient use of manure.”
To help achieve that goal, CBF is working with other key stakeholders to implement solutions, partnering in such projects as “precision feeding” to reduce nutrient pollution and obtain additional funding from state and federal agencies. Anaerobic digesters are also planned.
Eugene, Oregon
A one-year pilot began in January 2005 to evaluate adding residential food residuals to Eugene, Oregon’s yard debris collection program, which is based on hauler-supplied 65-gallon wheeled carts picked up every other week. The service rate is included in the customer’s regular garbage bill. Last year, 12,000 tons of leaves, limbs, grass clippings and other landscape debris were diverted. A 2003 waste composition study of Eugene’s garbage showed that 71 percent of the materials destined for the Lane County landfill are organic.
The 1,400 household customers participating in the pilot project encompass three collection routes from two licensed haulers. To evaluate several different options, these customers were divided into two groups: those that receive a plastic bucket to utilize as a collection reminder for inside their home, and those that receive an educational piece only. To further examine behavior within the customer base, each of these groups were given different material preparation instructions. Half of each group was told to include vegetative discards only, while the remainder received instructions to include vegetative discards, breads, grains and soiled paper. Meat discards are expressly prohibited due to compost facility permitting issues.
Once each quarter, a contractor hired by the City is weighing collection carts along the routes. The weight of setouts is important because the fees paid for garbage collection include “tipping fees” for yard debris and trash. Additionally, the City will be sending several surveys to the pilot project’s customer base to determine their disposal habits. For instance, from the first survey sent and returned, 40 percent of the customers prefer to utilize an in-sink disposal for getting rid of food discards. During the summer months, particular attention will be paid to evaluating odor issues. For more information, contact Alex Cuyler, Recycling Analyst with the City of Eugene, 541-682-6830;
Elk Mound, Wisconsin
A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Five Star Dairy on June 22nd organized by Environmental Power Corporation in collaboration with Dairyland Power Cooperative to officially note the installation of a Danish anaerobic digester system. Installed by Microgy, Inc. – Environmental Power’s principal operating subsidiary – the system is projected to generate approximately 6.5 million kilowatt hours from 800 milk cows. The Dairy’s technology is licensed exclusively to Microgy for development in North America.
“Environmental Power Corporation is committed to developing renewable and alternative energy facilities,” explained Kam Tejwani, president and CEO. “We look forward to the construction and installation of additional anaerobic digesters with Dairyland Power Cooperative.” Added William Berg, Dairyland president: “This alliance with Microgy enables our Power Cooperative to expand our renewable energy portfolio as part of our long-term plan, to use clean, cost-effective sources of electricity.”
As reported in BioCycle earlier, Dairyland (based in La Crosse, Wisconsin) provides the wholesale electrical requirements and other services for 25 electric distribution cooperatives and 20 municipal utilities. Together they serve more than half a million people in four states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois). Dairyland and Microgy formed a “green alliance” to produce renewable electricity at dairy and swine farms within the Dairyland system using anaerobic digesters. According to arrangements described previously, the farm buys the digester from Microgy, which will take care of operation and maintenance. Dairyland will own the generator and purchase the gas from the farmer.
In a session at the BioCycle Renewable Energy Conference in Madison September 12-14, 2005, Dan Eastman of Microgy Energy Systems will discuss operations at the Five Star Dairy facility, describing its Partnership with Dairyland and benefits from the power/manure management methods.
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP), with funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection, are hosting three workshops on Using Compost For Erosion & Sediment Control. Each workshop has the same line-up of speakers, along with a demonstration of compost-based BMPs (Best Management Practices) such as compost blankets, filter berms and compost filter socks. The BMPs will be installed in July so workshop attendees can evaluate their performance in the field. Workshop dates are September 19, 2005 in Pottsville, PA, September 20 in Lancaster and September 21 in Shippensburg, and are cosponsored by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in those areas. Mike Broili of Living Systems Design in Shoreline, Washington will be a featured speaker. Broili integrates amended soils, landscapes and vegetative roofs into his erosion and sediment control and storm water management designs. Other speakers include Cary Oshins, a compost educator for PROP, and Nora Goldstein of BioCycle. Registration fee is $59. For details contact Amy Cicchillo at PROP (
Cobb County, Georgia
A municipal solid waste composting plant owned and operated by Cobb County, Georgia may be closed by the end of the year, according to a news article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens, “I think there’s a very good shot we’ll have it closed by the end of the year.” The Journal-Constitution reports that Cobb County would have to pay off $19 million owed on bonds sold to finance the facility, which cost $23 million to build in 1996. It was designed to process 300 tons/day of mixed MSW and 100 wet tons/day of biosolids. The plant was initially operated as a private-public venture, with Bedminster Bioconversion Corp. receiving the operating contract. In 1999, the county took over operations, which include rotating drums for initial processing followed by indoor aerated static pile composting.
Reasons cited for the possible closure are rapid deterioration of the compost building, lack of markets for the compost, and high operating costs. (The Journal-Constitution reported that Cobb taxpayers have paid about $62 million in operating subsidies and interest on the original bonds.) About two-thirds of the plant’s capacity is being used; the remainder of the county’s waste is landfilled. At the time the composting facility was being developed (about 1994), it was projected that Cobb County had less than two years worth of landfill capacity, and the Georgia Legislature had passed a law requiring local governments to reduce the amount of solid waste going into their landfills by 25 percent. It was anticipated that landfill costs would rise quickly once the county’s landfill closed. As was the case in other states, private companies stepped in to meet the potential landfill void, charging tip fees far lower than the actual per ton operating costs of a composting facility like the one in Cobb County. In addition, Georgia did not enforce the 25 percent landfill reduction requirements (which the General Assembly repealed in 2005). A final vote by the Cobb County Commissioners will determine the ultimate fate of the composting plant.

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