January 30, 2006 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle January 2006, Vol. 47, No. 1, p. 13

Greater Toronto Area, Canada: Green Bins Service Organics Recycling Needs Of Residents

Green carts will roll across the Durham region of Greater Toronto when Miller Waste Systems completes its Ebara in-vessel composting facility by summer 2006 in Pickering, Ontario. When the wide-bed aerobic system is completed, it will be able to process 25,000 metric tons/year. Homeowners will have blue box recyclables and organics collected weekly. Garbage – in clear bags to help monitor source separation – will be collected every other week. Miller Waste Systems predicts that with compostable bags (or paper bags) to line kitchen containers and a totally organic feedstock from strictly household organics and yard trimmings, a quality compost will be generated. The green carts were supplied by Norseman.

Fremont, California: Monitoring Data, Lessons Learned From Residential Organics Diversion Roll-Out

An article in the December 2005 issue of BioCycle, “Source Separated MSW Composting in the U.S.,” discussed a residential source separation program in Fremont, California. Fremont is one of 13 jurisdictions in Alameda County that is offering curbside collection of source separated food residuals and soiled paper with the existing green waste program., the division within Alameda County that works on recycling, composting and waste reduction initiatives, provided grants to jurisdictions to roll out these programs. Shortly after the BioCycle article went to press, Cynthia Virostko, with the City of Fremont’s Environmental Services Division (COF ESD), sent some “lessons-learned” and monitoring data from the program, which is excerpted below:
The residential food scrap program was introduced in July 2003 as part of an expansion of the curbside collection program and consisted of introducing a new gray single-stream recycling cart and collecting food scraps and food-soiled paper (organics) in the existing green yard waste cart from approximately 46,500 single-family homes. As part of the food scrap grant from, the COF ESD was required to conduct quarterly field audits for one year after program implementation. Results from the monitoring showed an average of 25 percent participation in the food scrap program from Fremont residents who set out green carts on the day of the audit. This level of participation is consistent with the majority of the food scrap program participation levels experienced in other Alameda County Cities. It was also observed that food scrap participation increased slightly during the spring and summer months when yard waste volumes increased.
In addition to the quarterly monitoring, the COF ESD established an estimate of the quantity of organics diverted from the landfill. Prior to implementing the new organics program, a baseline tonnage for residential yard waste and garbage was determined. According to the data, collection of residential organics had increased approximately 7.5 percent, while tons of residential garbage collected decreased approximately 1 percent from FY 02/03 to FY 03/04. Although the increase in collection of organics is promising, the decrease in residential garbage collected could not be attributed to the addition of food scraps and food-soiled paper alone; an increase in recyclables collected due to introducing the single-stream system had also contributed significantly to diverting tons from the landfill (an almost 20 percent increase over the past year).
In terms of lessons learned, Virostko points out that since Fremont was not the first city in Alameda County to introduce a food scrap program, COF ESD staff were able to conduct a phone survey of other jurisdictions, asking various questions about their experiences with food scraps (and single-stream recycling as well). One valuable piece of advice was to roll out the food scrap program to all single-family residents at once instead of conducting a pilot program or a phased approach – especially since it was rolled out in conjunction with the single-stream recycling program rollout.
After the rollout, there were a few letters to the editor and articles in the local newspaper (The Argus), some positive and some negative. Overall, given the size of the service area that Fremont encompasses, there were relatively few problems associated with rollout and continued use of the food scrap program as indicated by the consistent participation rate over the past year. To provide an efficient means of communicating accurate, consistent information to the public after the rollout, the COF ESD and the hauler agreed to a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers, and distributed them to all staff and customer service reps who answer phones. The questions were based on experiences of other communities and program specifics (who, what, when, why, how). Only the hauler’s name and contact information is on all outreach materials, effectively funneling the majority of phone calls to one place, thus reducing duplication of effort. The COF ESD is currently utilizing low-cost options in regards to outreach for the food scrap program, including its own city newsletter and website and the hauler’s bill insert newsletter and website. The COF ESD is also part of an Alameda County organics group facilitated and managed by that pools resources to create and place county-wide advertising for participating in all of the food scrap programs operating in the county.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Vegetative Household Organics, Soiled Paper Set Out With Yard Trimmings

The city of Cedar Rapids’ Solid Waste and Recycling Department has added collection of vegetative residuals and soiled paper to its weekly yard trimmings curbside collection program. Collection service is provided year-round. Allowable materials that can be added to the 95-gallon green waste cart include peelings, whole fruits and vegetables, tea bags, coffee filters and grounds, soiled paper, dryer lint and human and pet hair. “We collect from approximately 38,000 households, but we don’t track how many actually set out organics other than yard waste,” says Mark Jones, Director of the Solid Waste and Recycling Department. “We were successful in getting the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, which runs the yard waste composting facility that receives our curbside collected materials, to accept the limited food organics. We think they got permission from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to accept these materials because the volume would be rather low. Many residents in Cedar Rapids have and use in-sink ‘garberators’ to manage the organics they use when preparing meals. The city doesn’t have an ordinance regulating ‘garberators’ as some cities do.” Jones adds that Cedar Rapids collected about 130,000 tons of yard trimmings in Fiscal Year 2005.

Allen County, Indiana: Home Construction Recycling Project Teams Up With Habitat For Humanity

A Solid Waste Management District program is involving the Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity and a local firm, Construction Recycling Solutions, in a three-phase strategy that involves: Recycling the framing package (mostly wood); Collection and recycling of drywall; and Recycling most everything else that includes plastics, cardboard, steel and shingles. It’s estimated that the largest C&D component will be wood (approximately 40 percent) with drywall (25 percent). Local contractors were invited to see a demonstration of grinding equipment that turned lumber into mulch and drywall into a soil additive. Construction Recycling Solutions will do the recycling for 13 homes that Habitat for Humanity plans to build this year. The company calculates that between 40 and 60 tons of material have already been diverted from landfills. Wood chips are being marketed to farmers for animal bedding.

San Francisco, California: 2,000 Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Markets Divert Food Scraps In City Program

Almost 2,000 restaurants, coffee shops, markets and other food establishments are diverting food residuals and food contaminated cardboard and paper to composting as part of a citywide program in San Francisco. “We have separate containers for compostables in our customer area,” says Betsy Holwitz, owner of the Arizmendi Bakery, “plus six different compost bins in the work area.” Twice named Commercial Recycler of the Year, the bakery also provides customers with compostable forks, knives and spoons. “We also give folks a 20-cent discount if they bring in their own coffee mug,” adds Horwitz. The city program is actively supported by Sunset Scavenger Company which can be contacted at or

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: DEP Awards Grants To Build Private Composting Infrastructure

To increase the volume of organics being composted, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded $279,594 to several state businesses and nonprofits. While touring the Scott Farms Inc. composting site in Ross Township, Monroe County, DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty announced a $75,000 grant to owners Brock Scott and Marty Gerardo to purchase a second wheel loader to process more yard trimmings. Other grant recipients included:
Westminster College in Lawrence County – $75,000 to expand its compost program to include food residuals from the college cafeteria; Briar Patch Organic Farm in Union County – $54,594 to increase the amount of yard trimmings it processes and begin processing food residuals from Bucknell University and Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary; Woodbed Company in Elk County – $75,000 to purchase equipment to fully develop its leaf and yard trimmings composting operation.
DEP will announces its next round for Compost Infrastructure Development Grants later this year, when there will be $400,000 available with a $200,000 maximum per project.

State College, Pennsylvania: Soil-Water Quality Conference

“Building Soils For Water Quality Enhancement” is the theme of the Fourth Annual Pennsylvania Manufactured Soils Conference, February 22-23, 2006 in State College. The keynote address by Matthew Ehrhart of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will draw connections between the health of the Bay and the health of soils. The first session, Manufactured Soils for Water Quality Improvement at the Watershed-Scale, covers how soils function in the hydrologic cycle, and steps the City of Philadelphia is taking that include manufactured soils applications to improve the Schuylkill River Watershed. Regulatory considerations, compost use in soil mixes, and the connections between manufactured soils and integrated water management – including landscapes, green roofs, specialty soils for storm water management and wetlands – are all topics on the agenda. For details on how to register and view the full agenda, go to and click on the Manufactured Soils Conference link.

Marlbororough, Massachusetts: Sixth Annual Organics Recycling Summit

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is holding its Sixth Annual Organics Recycling Summit, March 1, 2006 in at the Best Western Royal Plaza in Marlborough. This year’s theme, Growing Opportunities In Organics Recycling, will cover Smart Business Strategies to Protect the Bottom Line and Expand Capacity; Innovative Public-Private Partnerships that Promote Profitability; and Compost Quality-A Common Language for Buyers and Sellers. Roundtable discussions at the end of the day will include working with haulers, biodegradable food serviceware, and use of compost in sustainable landscapes. On March 2, 2006, summit attendees can participate in tours of the Marlborough WeCare composting facility and several supermarkets participating in an organics diversion program. For the final agenda and registration details, visit

Montpelier, Vermont: First Annual Organics Recycling Summit

The First Annual Vermont Organics Recycling Summit is being held on March 14, 2006 at the Montpelier City Hall Auditorium. The summit will focus on food rescue and food waste diversion to composting. Emphasis will be on assisting the generators and haulers to create successful systems. A panel will discuss what has worked as well as problems faced in terms of food residuals recycling. In the afternoon, there will be a short presentation on Vermont’s composting regulations, followed by participants and experts breaking into regional round tables to discuss what needs to be done next at the local, regional, and state levels. The summit will end with recommendations to the State from each of the round tables and a discussion of priorities. Registration information is available from Vicky Viens (vicky.viens@state., who is with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Waste Management Division.

San Diego, California: City Council Passes C&D Debris Recycling Ordinance To Reach Recycling Goals

Scheduled to be in force in summer 2006, a C&D debris recycling ordinance adopted by the City Council will help San Diego reach its mandates while extending the life of the Miramar Landfill. According to the director of the city’s Environmental Services Department (ESD), one-third of what goes into Miramar is C&D debris (400,000 tons/year). As specified, each building and demolition permit applicant will pay a deposit based on type and size of the applicants’ project, and then get a refund based on how much material is recycled. Those companies that recycle 75 percent of C&D debris will receive a full refund. (For background on the first C&D deposit program in California – implemented in San Jose – see “Giving A Boost To C&D Diversion,” March 2002. The article is available in the BioCycle archives. Go to to access the archives.)

Brunswick, Maine: Independent Panel Finds Biosolids Compost Use Acceptable

Last summer, the Town Council in Brunswick, Maine appointed a “Biosolids Peer Review Committee” to assess the use of Class A biosolids compost as a soil amendment in turf management programs within Zone 2 of the Town’s aquifer protection zone (APZ).
According to an item in the December newsletter from the New England Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA), the Committee presented its findings in a summary report at a public meeting in December: “We believe that Class A Compost is an appropriate tool to use in a well-implemented turf management program, and that it does not represent an increased risk over Organic Compost in this application.”
In the spring, concerns about biosolids on the part of some citizens, expressed in a petition, had forced the Town Council to suspend the use of biosolids compost as allowed in the Town’s revised aquifer protection ordinance, which the Council adopted in June by a 6 – 2 vote. In that ordinance, tight restrictions exist for Zone 1, the area closest to the town’s drinking water well field (in which groundwater takes 200 days or less to reach the wells). However, the ordinance allows composts – including biosolids compost that meets state and local requirements – to be used in Zone 2. The citizen’s petition sought a change to the ordinance, disallowing the use of biosolids compost and recommending the use of certified organic composts only. The Town Council appointed five independent Maine scientists.
In its short final recommendations, the Committee report states: “The committee recommends that the Council approve the amendments to the APZ/CPZ ordinance, and that the Parks and Recreation Department implement its turf management program on Edwards Field to maintain good grass cover both for recreation and groundwater protection. …. We recommend that the Ordinance allow the use of Class A Compost for the maintenance of recreational turf in Zone II of the Jordan Avenue well field APZ, and that, whatever product is used, periodic soil sampling be conducted to assess levels of metals in the soils, in order to ensure that metal concentrations do not increase over time due to repeated applications.” A complete copy of the Committee report is available from NEBRA (

Oahu, Hawaii: Solar-Powered Sustainable Community To Supply 30 Percent Of Electrical Needs

A new residential solar-powered community for the U.S. Army on Oahu wi1l provide about 30 percent of its electrical needs through seven megawatts of photovoltaic paneling. This 1,702-acre community transformation – a project of Actus Lend Lease, a public/private community developer – will integrate renewable energy sources and sustainable design solutions. The U.S. Army Hawaii initiative marks the first time a grid-connected project will be profitable enough to install PV solar panels without subsidies. Actus Lend Lease’s project will replace traditional fossil fuel generation – saving approximately 18,000 barrels of oil each year. Roughly 65 percent of the demolition waste will be reused in the form of asphalt or other building materials. No old appliance, door or window will be landfilled before first being offered to low-income residents in surrounding neighborhoods.

Sign up