July 25, 2006 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle July 2006, Vol. 47, No. 7, p. 14

San Francisco, California
Sixty-five San Francisco schools participate in “Food to Flowers,” diverting an estimated 500 tons of organic residuals each school year – including food scraps, napkins, milk cartons and now compostable bags. “The goal is to get all of the city’s 260 schools participating,” explains Becky Wike, Environmental Education Coordinator.
All lunchroom compostables are hauled to the Jepson Prairie Compost Facility, for conversion to soil conditioner and fertilizer. Schools are able to reduce their garbage fees by more than half, and subtract from the 3,000 tons of trash generated daily by the city. In June, Cereplast Inc. announced a program to provide the schools with compostable plastic bags certified by the Biodegradable Plastic Institute as required by San Francisco’s composting program. Cereplast also recently partnered with Duni Corporation to develop a line of thermoformed food containers as another ecofriendly alternative. For more information on the “Food to Flowers” project, e-mail
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania agriculture is set to increase development of alternative fuel sources like biodiesel – providing jobs and adding more than $1 billion of revenue in the next decade. Keystone BioFuels in Shiremanstown is the state’s first company to manufacture biodiesel from Pennsylvania-grown soybeans. In operation since March 2006, the company is producing 3,000 gallons of soy diesel/day with potential of one million gallons/year. A $6 million expansion is planned for year’s end with potential production and storage of 5 million to 7 million gallons of soy diesel.
Up to 40 millions gallons of biofuels are expected to be on line by next year in Pennsylvania. Within the next decade, the state’s alternative fuels industry is expected to use 546 million bushels of corn and 5.1 billion pounds of fats and oils to make ethanol and biodiesel. The PennSecurity Fuels initiative ensures that after 10 years, Pennsylvania will generate 900 million gallons annually of domestically produced fuel for the state’s gasoline and diesel supplies.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Minnesota is highly pleased with its BioCycle “State of Garbage” ranking as the second highest in the nation at 43.2 percent – behind only Oregon (45.2) percent – when it comes to recycling rates. Minnesota also has the third largest number of curbside recycling programs with 730, behind only New York (1,500) and Pennsylvania (974). Paul Gardner of the state’s Recycling Association explains the reasons for the high ranking:
“Minnesota charges a Solid Waste Management Tax (SWMT) on garbage but not on recycling. That makes garbage more expensive and recycling more financially attractive. … Some of the revenue from SWMT goes to counties to support recycling, composting and waste reduction opportunities. … About 75 percent of residents have curbside recycling service. Minnesota set recycling goals at 50 percent in the Twin Cities. … Several cities like Hutchinson and Wayzata are showing that you can cost-effectively collect food waste for composting. In addition, 24 percent of our garbage is still recyclable paper.”
Beltsville, Maryland
Seeking to present new data at the National Carcass Disposal Symposium December 4-7, 2006 in Beltsville, Maryland, a special committee has issued a call for papers. The organizing committee includes representatives of the Cornell Waste Management Institute, Iowa State Extension and the Maine Compost Team. The goal is to stimulate further research and influence public policy concerning animal mortality disposal. Abstracts should be submitted by July 28, 2006 to J. Craig Williams, Penn State Cooperative Extension, 118 Main St., Wellsboro, PA 16901; e-mail A special report on the successful use of composting for mortalities will appear in a coming issue of BioCycle.
Nantucket, Massachusetts
The third Annual Conference of the In-Vessel Rotary Drum Users Group will be held September 27-28, 2006 at the Waste Options, Inc. facility located on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Confirmed topics/speakers at the Nantucket meeting include: Biofiltration-Bob Spencer; Kiln Inspection, Alignment, Bearings – Ron Christen; Marketing – Ron Alexander; Bedminster Activities Worldwide – Pearse O’Kane. Invited speakers include Stuart McAll, who would talk about rotary drum composting operations at the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council’s Resource Recovery Center in Perth, Australia. Tours of the facility will be held and speakers will address the latest issues in the industry. To receive more information about the conference, contact Phil Hayes at (928) 368-5370, ext. 227; Whitney Hall at (401) 453-5115; Jeff Hodge at (970) 586-4544, ext 16 or via e-mail:
Columbus, Ohio
Trustees for the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) voted to sell sulfur dioxide (SO2) credits for a former waste-to-energy facility in Columbus. Proceeds from the more than $10 million sale would reduce SWACO’s debt to Columbus.
SWACO Executive Director Mike Long hails the sale as one that brings many benefits. “This will help SWACO reduce the debt on the trash plant and at the same time it brings needed cash to Columbus. The rebirth of the former trash plant site continues to follow the philosophy of reuse and recycle.” In March 2005, the retired Waste-to-Energy-Facility was demolished. New life has come to the remaining structure that once housed the tipping floor. The building now plays host to a paper recycling operation that is projected to divert 30,000 tons annually from the Franklin County waste stream. Long adds: “We continue to look for additional industries. We have proven that this land can be productive once again, and look forward to working with Columbus to find other green businesses that will bring new jobs to our community.”
East Lansing, Michigan
Anaerobic digestion extracts methane from manure, simultaneously creating an odor-free digestate composed of fibrous materials, report researchers at Michigan State University. Write A. Cook, L. M. Matuana and M.C. Gould: “Currently, there is a great interest in developing markets and value-added products from the digestate to provide extra income to farmers. In this context, utilization of digestate was explored by converting fibrous materials into wood plastic composites (WPCs).”
WPCs have emerged as an important family of engineering materials, partially replacing solid pressure-treated wood and others in such applications as decking, docks, fencing and playground equipment. Most commonly used wood species for WPC manufacturing are pine, maple and oak. Add the researchers who will describe their findings at the BioCycle Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling in Minneapolis, October 30, 31, November 1, 2006: “The merit and objective of this study were to evaluate the feasibility of utilizing digestate as raw material in the manufacture of WPCs. Experimental results showed that WPCs could be successfully manufactured from digestate. Mechanical properties of digestate-based WPCs exceeded those manufactured with pine and maple.”
Princeton, New Jersey
Since the birth of her second child, Rachel Hurford has been working to stop global warming by getting mayors to sign on to the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. Her one woman campaign commenced, and she succeeded in getting Hopewell Borough to adopt its guidelines. The program is focused on reducing greenhouse gases though local decision making. “I have been impressed not only with Rachel’s strong commitment to this issue, but also with her level of knowledge about the steps we can take to reduce emissions and make governmental operation more energy efficient,” says Freeholder Elizabeth Muoio who led the adoption in Mercer County. Initiatives include buying recycled office paper and ecofriendly cleaning products as well as choosing alternative energy vehicles for townships and providing tax incentives for building energy-efficient homes.
Hurford also teamed up with Priscilla Hayes, executive director of the Solid Waste Resource Renewal Group (SWRRG) based at Rutgers University. SWRRG is especially focused on changing food waste recycling policies in New Jersey to drastically cut production of methane. For more details on the programs, contact Hayes at; or Hurford at
Albany, New York
After a 3-1/2 hour floor debate, the New York Assembly passed the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill on May 10, by a vote of 92 to 45, with broad-based bipartisan support. This is the second year that the Assembly has backed the bill, which has six majority Senate cosponsors, and strong support among the Senate minority. The “Bigger, Better Bottle Bill” (A2517D, DiNapoli/S129D LaValle) would extend the current 5-cent container deposit law to include noncarbonated beverages like bottled water and iced tea. It would also require beverage companies to return the unclaimed deposits to the state to fund recycling and other environmental protection programs. The expansion bill has broad-based support, notes the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), with endorsements from more than 350 local governments, small businesses, and a broad range of groups from across New York State. Polls show that most New Yorkers support this proposal. However, the bill faces stiff opposition from well-financed industry groups such as beer wholesalers, soda and beverage companies, and supermarkets and convenience stores.
In a separate release, CRI Executive Director Pat Franklin commented on recycling data released in May by the Aluminum Association, an industry trade group, has a dark side. “The Association reported an increase of less than one percentage point in the national aluminum can recycling rate – from 51.2 to 52.0 percent,” she said, “but they failed to mention that we still are trashing 800,000 tons of aluminum beverage cans a year.” Franklin said this was equivalent to the annual output of three to four major primary aluminum smelters. “Frankly, I was surprised to see how slight the increase was, given the record-breaking prices for scrap aluminum cans in 2005,” she noted, adding that the actual number of cans collected last year (51.4 billion) was 100 million fewer than the number collected in 2004 (51.5 billion).
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
“Recycling is a growth industry with many kinds of business opportunities, from waste management to manufacturing to inventing new technologies,” said Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell when announcing 116 new grants totaling $20 million. Added Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty: “These grants also ensure that recycling continues to be a strong contributor to Pennsylvania’s economy.” They provide composting and recycling services for some 10 million residents.
Yard waste and food residuals composting projects were well covered in the county-by-county listings which included these amounts: $156,264 for dropoff recycling and yard waste composting in Beaver County; $123,145 for yard waste collection and composting in Bernville Borough, Berks County; $120,177 for yard waste collection and composting in Exeter Township, Berks; $266,720 for curbside recycling and paper bedding in Butler County; $470,925 for yard waste composting in State College Borough, Centre County; $486,725 for curbside recycling and yard waste composting in Phoenixville, Chester County; $318,105 for curbside and yard waste composting in West Chester Borough, Chester; $172,725 for yard waste composting in Lock Haven, Clinton County; $479,693 for dropoff recycling and yard waste composting in Cumberland County; and Columbia Borough in Lancaster County – $275,400 for composting; Lehigh County – $265,065 for composting; $500,000 for composting in Wright Township, Luzerne County; $447,093 for collection and composting in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County; $309,438 for collection and composting in Allentownship, Northampton County; and ending with $127,850 for composting in York.
Pennsylvania’s recycling and composting industries are leaders in employment, payroll and sales numbers. More than 3,247 recycling and reuse businesses and organizations generate more than $18.4 billion in gross annual sales and provide jobs for more than 81,322 employees at an annual payroll of approximately $2.9 billion. These businesses add more than $305 million in taxes to the state treasury.
In 2004, nearly 4.8 million tons of municipal waste were recovered in Pennsylvania. The economic value of remaking that waste into new and useful products exceeded $113 million. Communities avoided more than $259 million in disposal costs based on the estimated statewide average disposal cost of $54 per ton.
By recycling more than 1 million tons of steel cans, appliances and similar materials, Pennsylvania industries saved almost 1.3 million tons of iron ore, 718,460 tons of coal, and 61,582 tons of limestone. Through recycling newspapers as well as office and mixed paper, the state saved the equivalent of 8.2 million trees. On average, a live tree removes 60 pounds per year of air pollution from the environment.
The state’s recycling programs are supported by a $2 tipping fee on each ton of waste deposited in Pennsylvania landfills. However, that fee runs only through 2008. Rendell is working with the Legislature to extend that deadline so the Commonwealth continues to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of recycling. Also announced was the availability of the 2006 round of Recycling Development and Implementation Grants. Municipalities are eligible for 90 percent funding of approved recycling program costs. Grants of up to $500,000 are available. Applications must be received or postmarked by October 20, 2006. For more information on recycling grants, visit DEP’s website,

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