August 20, 2006 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle August 2006, Vol. 47, No. 8, p. 13

St. Paul, Minnesota
Three schools developed a Healthy Schools project that reduced kitchen waste, improved energy efficiency, cut down bus emissions and collected wastes for composting – helped by a $40,000 grant to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from the USEPA. Houston Elementary recovered almost four tons of recyclable materials; Pine Point chose a single “green” product for general cleaning replacing five more toxic items; and Houston also set a “no idling” policy for buses at the curb. The project showed how simple, low cost changes can lead to healthier environment and save the district money.
Fort Hood, Texas
Texas will lose 500,000 acre-feet of water reservoir capacity by 2050, according to the Texas Water Development Board. Capacity loss will be caused entirely by increases in sedimentation from rivers and streams. Officials see compost/mulch erosion control blankets, filter berms and socks as best cost-effective alternatives to prevent problems. These alternative best management practices have been shown by university research to be 99 percent effective on removing total suspended solids from storm water runoff.
To expand use of these compost tools, the Small Business and Environmental Assistance (SBEA) agency is working with Ft. Hood on workshops and demonstrations.Goals of project are: Remove manure from watershed and export it as compost feedstock to other watersheds; Make use of composted manure in vegetative reclamation; and Develop new markets for compost use in the Fort Hood region. The project will implement a statewide program to demonstrate compost effectiveness as a BMP to reduce sediment from entering waterways. SBEA composting staff along with Ft. Hood personnel will assist in developing programs.
East Allen Township, Pennsylvania
“We all have a common goal,” explains Allen Township Manager Ilene Eckhart, who has helped to coordinate the First Regional Composting Authority planned to open by late fall in Northampton County with five townships participating. “We want to provide the service for our citizens … and keep these materials out of the landfill. Roughly a third of the garbage that goes into Pennsylvania landfills – about 3.2 million tons per year – is organic material.” Since 2003, Allen Township has secured more than $1.3 million in state grants, which should cover nearly all start-up costs. The township would split the operating costs, each likely to pay $10,000/year.
The composting center would join more than 450 others statewide, which includes public facilities as well as private composting sites. As reported in The Morning Call, each of the five townships would collect leaves, twigs and small branches, and truck them to the center. The five-acre site is part of a 12-acre parcel owned by East Allen Township. Once the center is operating, the townships plan to invite other municipalities to get involved.
Montpelier, Vermont
Vermont’s Department of Public Service will use $1.3 million from the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) to benefit ratepayers and have positive impacts in economic development, says Commissioner David O’Brien. The purpose of CEDF is to promote cost-effective, sustainable electric power resources and use of combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. One barrier to the use of digesters is lack of access by farms to three-phase power lines needed for commercial electrical generation. The Department will distribute $485,000 of initial funds to overcome the three-phase power barrier for three Franklin County farms. Program design suggestions will lay the foundation for a five-year plan to be submitted to the CEDF Advisory and Investment Committees.
Faribault, Minnesota
Founded in 1865, Faribault Mills is the oldest private company in Minnesota and the last fully integrated woolen mill in the U.S. Today, the company still produces more than half of the new wool blankets made in the U.S. and keeps up with the latest in textile technology. Several years ago, Faribault Mills began looking for a new fiber that would be environmentally-friendly, not a petroleum-based synthetic. While attending a “Helmtextile Show” in Frankfurt, Germany, its Chief Operations Officer saw Ingeo – a naturally-derived fiber made from corn by Cargill Dow. The process turns out the Ingeo fiber based on the fermentation of simple sugars that creates a polymer then spun into fiber. And that led to Project Ingeo – a fiber that is renewable, fine quality and biodegradable.
Its environmental benefits are listed as follows: It takes 30 to 50 percent less fossil fuel to produce than petroleum-based fiber; Made from corn, an annual renewable crop in the Midwest; Products are biodegradable; Ingeo can be composted at any commercial site; Ecofriendly dyes are used in the fabrics; More than 500,000 pounds of petroleum-based synthetics are eliminated annually.
Faribault Mills expects to recover its costs over the next two to three years, while contributing to further independence from imported oil. Says a company official who attended that Frankfurt Show on textiles: “In our world today, we all have to start to do things differently – you have to be willing to be a pioneer!”
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of two components of a $25-million wastewater recycling system pioneered between Edmonton, Petro-Canada and Strathcona County. The second component is a 5.5 km pipeline which transports membrane-treated wastewater from Gold Bar to PetroCanada’s county refinery. This minimizes the amount of water the company needs to draw from the river or purchase as potable water. Petro-Canada will further treat the water by reverse osmosis and use it in their industrial processes. “We’re reusing municipal wastewater as the source water for industrial water,” says Chris Ward, the city’s manager for the Water Line Project, which will produce about 40,000 cubic meters of industrial-grade water daily. Community benefits for the recycled water include snowmaking by nearby ski clubs and an alternative water source for parks. As well as improving water quality, hydrogen will be stripped from the water and used to manufacture desulfurized diesel. As a result, explains Ward, “you’ve got a cleaner running diesel and fewer air quality issues.”

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