November 25, 2005 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle November 2005, Vol. 46, No. 11, p. 14

Edmonton, Canada
The latest issue of At The Forefront, a newsletter published by the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence, describes the Advanced Realtime Composting technology which uses sensor control to provide “real time” data on conditions throughout a compost pile. “What we have endeavored to do is to optimize the biological process,” explains Dr. Salim Abboud of the Alberta Research Council Inc. (ARC). That means providing the right amounts of oxygen, heat and water as well as porosity for air to move. The Realtime technology generates information on conditions throughout an entire compost pile. That means that adjustments can be made instantly. “You don’t have to wait a day to react,” Abboud says. “You don’t have to take a sample to a lab.” The technology employs Tyvac sheets as a compost cover, further shortening the composting period. Based on positive results in Phase 1, Edmonton and ARC recently began Phase II of the study, which involves large-scale testing on Edmonton’s biosolids over the next year. “This technology will help our bottom line by shortening the composting time and allowing us to process more biosolids,” says Allan Yee, manager, Edmonton Composting Facility. As a partner in the Centre, ARC was able to carry out the research for Phase I at the new Clover Bar Research Development Facility. The project is being funded by ARC, which plans to commercialize the technology. Edmonton provides logistical and other support.
Amherst, Massachusetts
The Patriot Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area Council received a $269,000 grant through the state Department of Environmental Protection to improve erosion and sedimentation control as well as storm water management at construction sites. The project will be at the Olmsted Green construction site in Mattapan on the former Boston State Hospital property. Goal is to facilitate use of compost and amended soil to control erosion, manage runoff and reduce nonpoint source pollution. Project will compare compost-based methods with current “standard” approaches such as geosynthetic silt fencing and hay bales. Compost will be supplied from two nearby facilities. A vegetated green roof will also be installed and evaluated for its ability to retain storm water. This demonstration unit, which will be planted with sedum, will be built on an elevated platform where testing will be conducted and will be accessible for educational programs and visitors touring the site. Participating organizations include City Soil & Greenhouse, Co., which will be involved in the design, installation, monitoring and maintenance of compost and amended soil; Soil & Water Quality Alliance, which will provide outreach and education programs; New Ecology, Inc., which will provide advice in green building construction practices; and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., which will design and evaluate structural erosion and storm water control practices. The Patriot RC&D Council, Inc. ( is a nonprofit organization dedicated to managing, sustaining and enhancing the natural and community resources in the region. The Patriot area covers five counties in central and northeastern Massachusetts that have urban, suburban and rural areas. it contains 180 communities, 10 watersheds, and 4.3 million people.
Reynolds, Indiana
Indiana governor Mitch Daniels hopes to create a “BioTown” in this community of 550 which is 25 miles north of Lafayette. The town was chosen for its easy access by road and rail, its proximity to Purdue University and its farm economy. Methane from local hog farms and the town sewer could generate electricity; a state-formed task force will try to get the town’s sole gas station to offer E85 fuel – a mix of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. “We want to make this a model for other communities in the future,” stresses Deborah Abbott of the state’s Department of Agriculture who is also working with the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. to push the transition.
Lincoln, Nebraska
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality awarded over $2.4 million in grants for waste reduction and recycling projects. Funding for the grants is generated by fees on solid waste disposed in landfills (about $1.7 million of the $2.4 million), annual retail business sales (about $760,000), and a fee assessed on the sale of new tires for motor vehicles. Grants totaling over $1.5 million for projects related to tire recycling were previously announced in May. Grant recipients in the organics recycling category include: Stewart Trucking and Pallet, Inc., Lincoln, $80,000, mobile diesel-powered wood grinder/processor; City of Fremont, Department of Utilities, $75,000, towable compost turner and tractor for yard waste and biosolids composting; City of Gibbon, $123,000, tractor for sludge recycling/composting project; and Village of Kenesaw to $2,250, screen and grind grass pile, dispose of trash, give away compost.
State College, Pennsylvania
The 2006 Manufactured Soils conference will be held in State College, Pennsylvania, February 22-23. The theme for the annual meeting is Building Soils for Water Quality Enhancement. Sessions will address how soils function in the hydrologic cycle; mineland reclamation and watershed benefits; and the role of manufactured soils in integrated storm water management systems. Manufactured soils are loosely defined as soil amendment products comprised of treated residuals and various industrial by-products, such as foundry sand and coal ash. Other presentations will focus on topics related to use of manufactured soils, e.g., ecotoxicity testing at sites remediated with these soils, carbon sequestration, market development and regulations. Richard Stehouwer of Penn State University is spearheading the conference initiative; the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP) are handling all conference details. Go to for more information.
Kansas City, Missouri
The city of Kansas City and the Aluminum Can Council have partnered to conduct a survey among residents to gather input to better understand the curbside recycling attitudes of inner city residents. Key findings show that nonparticipants do not have a recycling bin, and do not know enough about the city’s recycling program. However, the research shows that 90 percent of urban residents in the lowest area of participation believe it is important to recycle. The survey also shows that residents are more likely to recycle if they are given incentives, frequency of recycling pick ups, have access to recycling bins and are provided with information. “These survey findings show that there is an opportunity to increase participation in Kansas City’s most urban areas. This is the first such research we’ve conducted in this area and the findings are positive,” Dee Ann Gregory, KC Recycles coordinator, says. “During the first year of the program, we experienced high participation rates in suburban neighborhoods. This demonstrates that we just need to adjust our messages and the way information is distributed and the urban areas are likely to become just as avid participants.”
Johnston, Rhode Island
Last month, the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), working with area grocery stores, announced a statewide collection and recycling program for plastic bags. A survey found that some 192 million grocery bags are used annually, with nearly all the plastic ending up at the state’s primary landfill in Johnston. Nationwide only one percent of plastic film has been recycled. “When we approached the state’s Food Dealers Association and asked them to work with us in finding a solution, they consented to help,” notes Sherry Mulhearn, RIRRC director. The ReStore plastic bags recycling program was her brainchild when she became fed up with paying $1 million annually to remove plastic bags littering property around the landfill. One of the paper balers at the RIRRC materials recovery facility is used to bale plastic bags. RIRRC underwrote cost of the barrels and display materials, while the Food Dealers Association is underwriting costs of back hauling the bags from markets to the warehouse and recycling facility. Fourteen markets across the state collect plastic bags for the ReStore program. Polyethylene film (i.e., grocery bags, dry cleaner plastic, newspaper “sleeves”, etc.) can be taken to to any of the 63 stores that have recycling barrels. Markets can commingle pallet plastic wrapping with consumer bags, saving additional disposal costs. A marine shrink wrap recycling project has also been launched to develop wider markets. For additional details, contact Paul Caccia, RIRRC, at
Paso Robles, California
The Central Coast Vineyard Team, directed by Kris O’Connor, is a collaborative partnership of growers, wineries, consultants, researchers and environmental professionals. Their latest newsletter includes a profile of Stasi Seay, a third-generation farmer who five years ago joined Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines as their winegrowing manager representing about 8,000 acres. Here are excerpts from the profile: “I’d like to see the idea of sustainability work its way through the organization up to the corporate level. At our Paicines facility, we were paying someone to haul our pomace offsite and then we’d pay someone else to bring us compost. One day we decided to try to make our own compost to incorporate the winery pomace back into the vineyard. The first try was a little bumpy, but once we asked for help, we were able to make great compost. Our compost includes winery pomace, steer manure and barley. We add water and turn, turn, turn. The on-site compost production generates enough to adequately cover up to two-thirds of our acres in Paicines. The greatest part about it is that even after labor costs and equipment purchases, we are spending less making our own than having trucks haul materials in and out. The other change we have made actually turned out to be a great community project, also in the Paicines area. We decided to grow barley for our compost on a piece of fallow land we owned, and the first year it had a great stand with high production. The local farmers took notice and we were approached by one farmer who wanted to farm and harvest the barley, give us what we needed for our compost program and take whatever was left. Diageo agreed and now, a few years later, there are a number of farmers helping us use the land for mutually beneficial purposes – they pay for seed and plant what they need and we get help with the barley we need for the compost. Really, though, the most significant benefit from the barley field is the relationships that are being built with our neighbors and other community members.” For more information on the Central Coast Vineyard Team, visit: www.
Hennepin County, Minnesota
This month, Hennepin County announced that it is seeking information about firms that may be interested in managing source separated organic materials from its waste management facilities. A Solicitation of Interest (SOI) was issued, and the County seeks to assess if a facility would be available by July 1, 2007. The County is interested in contracting for five years to process organics. Quantities of source separated organics for processing are around 2,500 tons in 2007 and 10,000 tons by 2009. Interested parties can view the SOI on the County’s website and enter “organics solicitation of interest” in the search box. Questions about the SOI should be directed to Paul Kroening at (612) 348-6358 or paul.kroening@ co.hennepin.
Brattleboro, Vermont
A USDA-sponsored study to identify opportunities for replacing wooden pallets and cardboard containers with reusable plastics was conducted by Windham Solid Waste Management District. The study location included 17 towns in rural southern Vermont with Anthony Sarkis, Waste Reduction Coordinator, holding interviews to determine if a niche existed to switch over to reusable transport packaging. Businesses included contractors, painters, resort owners, small farmers, etc. “The findings of the visits and phone interviews indicate that there is little need or opportunity for businesses in the study area to switch over to reusable transport packaging,” Sarkis writes. Most businesses ship small quantities of product to a variety of individual customer locations thereby making it impossible to put in place any reverse logistic system.

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