October 25, 2006 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle October 2006, Vol. 47, No. 10, p. 13

Boston, Massachusetts
The Recycling Industries Reimbursement Credit program at the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is providing grants to recycling companies for purchase of capital equipment and/or funding to overcome barriers to increase use of materials such as food residuals, C&D debris, roofing shingles, wood, mixed glass, agricultural plastics and more. Up to $150,000 should be available for RIRC this fiscal year. Contact Steve Long, Recycling Markets Planner, MassDEP, 1 Winter St., Boston, MA 02108. E-mail: stephen. long@
Beltsville, Maryland
The National Symposium On Carcass Disposal, December 4-7, 2006 in Beltsville, Maryland, will bring together researchers, policy makers and responders to learn, discuss and evaluate issues, research projects, and policies concerning animal carcass disposal. Recent world events – including the foot and mouth outbreak in the United Kingdom, BSE in dairy cattle in North America, avian influenza, chronic wasting disease of wild animals and mortalities caused by natural disasters – have raised the awareness of policy makers, scientists and regulators of the need to develop environmentally acceptable disposal methods for both routine and catastrophic mortalities. On December 4, a preconference workshop will cover proper euthanasia and decontamination techniques for use in catastrophic events. Research papers to be presented during the three days of sessions will cover a range of composting methodologies, identify research needs and discuss and evaluate response plans. The symposium is designed to present a forum for information exchange between policy makers, regulators and scientists to debate issues concerning carcass disposal technology and environmental impacts. A postsymposium tour is planned of the USDA-ARS’ carcass disposal technology.
The event is coordinated by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Cosponsors include the Maine Compost School, Cornell Waste Management Institute, the USEPA, the USDA-ARS, Iowa State University Extension, Penn State, and USDA-APHIS. For more information and to register, please go to the National Carcass Disposal Symposium web site at:
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center are sponsoring a series of workshops around the state to help communities meet the challenges – and tap into new opportunities – with regard to composting municipal organics. Notes the workshop flyer: “The course is intended to provide attendees with some of the tools that will help them implement or improve their programs or facilities, minimize costs, and help them better understand their composting options.” The first workshop is scheduled for October 25, 2006 in Allegheny County; the last workshop is on November 21, 2006 in Cumberland County. In between, workshops will be held in the following counties: Lawrence, Chester, Delaware, Luzerne, Centre, Lancaster, Montgomery and Bucks. Course topics include regulatory requirements; source reduction strategies including grasscycling and home composting; collection options and strategies; program economics; benefits of multimunicipal cooperation; and the growing area of food composting in Pennsylvania. All but one workshop involves a tour of a local composting facility. Register on-line at
College Park, Maryland
The University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship is partnering with Silverthorn BioFuels and the Maryland Soybean Board to create a mobile production lab housed in a converted school bus called “Biodiesel University.” It will provide hands-on demonstrations of biodiesel feedstock options and production, reports Maria Lonsbury of the University’s Student Affairs Office. The bus will collect cooking oils from campus sites and 22 restaurants in Montgomery County. An on-board fryer will provide samples, and a soybean press will allow students to crush beans for biodiesel feedstock. Other oil-bearing plants – such as Jatrophak cottonseed, peanut and palm – will be displayed. The bus will be powered by the biodiesel; its motor oil and hydraulic fluids will be vegetable-based and biodegradable. Up to 250 gallons of biodiesel/day will be generated on the bus, to be used by fleets and other vehicles on campus. For more details, contact Dan Goodman, via e-mail at: dean@
Ames, Iowa
According to a study by David Swenson of Iowa State University, Iowa is the national center of an ethanol plant construction boom. There are 27 plants currently processing corn, mostly for ethanol, and as many more are either under construction, planned or proposed. But what does a new ethanol plant really mean to a local economy?
Researchers Swenson and Liesl Eathington found that job creation varied by several factors – particularly the percentage of the plant that is under local ownership. With no local ownership, the plant would either create or stimulate 133 jobs in the regional economy – with 29 more jobs created for every 25 percent increase in local ownership.
“What that means is that we have local ownership receiving dividends, and they’re turning around and spending some portions of those dividends back in the local economy. They’re buying consumer goods, and also doing some business spending,” explains Swenson. “What I always tell my classes is that any dollar that leaves our community has a hard time coming back, but a dollar that stays in our community has a multiplier effect.”
Higher levels of local ownership yield higher job impacts for rural areas, as long as returns to investors are robust and competitive with other alternatives, points out Swenson. “It is important to remember, however, that the econometrics in these modeling exercises work in reverse. Losses in plants that are locally owned, resulting in sharply reduced or no payments to investors, will be felt as job losses in regional economies, and those losses will be numerically greater in areas with higher local ownership.”
A second study by Swenson is titled: Input-Outrageous: “The Economic Impacts of Modern Biofuels Production.”
Grove City, Ohio
“An Ohio EPA study shows over 38 percent of what goes to the Franklin County Landfill is an avalanche of paper or cardboard,” declares Executive Director Mike Long of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. By recycling those materials, “we could extend the current projected 25-year life expectancy of the landfill.”
To shrink the amount of paper and cardboard, SWACO has given four local paper recyclers marketing grants to recruit more business recyclers. They include: The Grossman Group, Smurfit-Stone, Shred-it and Rumpke Recycling. Grossman plans to install a giant advertising mural in downtown Columbus to encourage new customers to recycle. Smurfit-Stone is purchasing new recycling carts with its grant to offer service to potential new customers. Shred-it plans a recycling collection drive and Rumpke will use its grant dollars to print new pamphlets for distribution to customers. The companies will be responsible for reporting tonnages recycled to SWACO, so the effectiveness of their programs can be evaluated.
“Our wallscape at Spring and High Streets will show how each of Columbus’ commercial companies can take what once was an expense for contaminated cardboard that simply went to landfills, and now turn it into a profit by having our facility separate the higher percentages of paper from the trash,” notes Steve Grossman, president of The Grossman Group, Inc. At Rumpke, Director of Recycling Steve Sargent adds: “The SWACO grant program provides an opportunity for Rumpke to initiate recycling programs at businesses throughout Franklin County. Rumpke has extensive experience collecting, hauling and marketing salvageable materials, making Rumpke uniquely qualified to design comprehensive recycling programs for small and large businesses in Franklin County.”
In 2005, SWACO’s Franklin County Landfill received 923,397 tons of trash. If the Ohio EPA study is followed, almost 351,000 tons would be recovered as some fiber product.
State College, Pennsylvania
Thirty-five years ago, researchers at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences operated an experimental digester but the economics didn’t favor the technology, notes Robert Graves in the latest issue of Resource. But now, the University has received USDA funding to address profitability issues and develop standards for digester design. “Anaerobic digesters can provide significant environmental benefits on dairy farms while producing renewable energy for on-farm use or sale to the utility grid,” says Agriculture and Biological Engineer Tom Richard of the Agricultural Sciences staff and a member of the BioCycle editorial board. He continues: “State and federal agencies have demonstrated dramatic reductions in odor and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as more predictable nutrient availability. Most failures have resulted from overly optimistic economic projections. Several persistent performance challenges will be addressed in the research.”
Richard cites the discovery of “methanogenic” microorganisms recently isolated from cool, acidic bogs in central Pennsylvania as a development that will result in better digesters. “Incorporating those microorganisms into the digestion process should improve the resilience of digesters to operational variability. We will be developing a standardized package of hardware and software for remote monitoring and process control.” Richard also announced plans to develop standardized designs for complete digester systems so that each farm digester does not have to be a completely custom design.
More details will be provided in future BioCycle issues by Dr. Richard.
Syracuse, New York
The New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling is holding its 17th Annual Conference on November 16-17, 2006 in Syracuse, New York. A featured speaker at this year’s event is Jill Buck, founder of the national Go Green Initiative, a comprehensive environmental education program designed to help schools operate in an environmentally responsible manner. NYSAR is also holding a training session on November 16th that focuses on how administrators, teachers, custodians, parents and students can replicate greening initiatives in their schools. A second two hour session is designed to open the dialogue between the composters of New York to determine: What is the value of compost? Both two hour sessions are free. For registration rates and information, contact, Diane Fisher, 518-573-6269; or visit
Alameda County, California
Officials announced completion of California’s first megawatt-class hydrogen fuel cell cogeneration plant that transforms hydrogen from natural gas into electricity and water without combustion and captures waste heat to improve efficiency. Installed at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail by Chevron Energy Solutions, the project will provide half of the annual power needs, save taxpayers more than $260,000/year, and improve the environment. Manufactured by FuelCell Energy, Inc., the unit – along with the previously-installed solar power array – will shrink power purchases by as much as 80 percent during peak-demand months. The lower demand will eliminate more than 3,200 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. “With installation of the unit, Santa Rita Jail is now the ‘greenest’ county facility in the country,” declared Keith Carson, president of the county’s Board of Supervisors. The $6.1 million project was supported by $2.4 million in grants and incentives: $1.4 million from Pacific Gas and Electric and $l million from the U.S. Department of Defense Climate Change Fuel Cell Program. Of the remaining cost of $3.7 million, $2.8 million was financed through a California Energy Commission Energy Partnership Program Loan; the rest is being funded by cost savings under a performance contract with Chevron Energy Solutions and FuelCell Energy.

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