December 14, 2006 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle December 2006, Vol. 47, No. 12, p. 12

Millbrae, California
Wastewater Treatment Plant To Replace Fossil Fuels With Grease
Leftover cooking grease from San Francisco Bay Area restaurants will allow a wastewater plant to provide for 80 percent of its own power saving taxpayers money and cutting down fossil fuel emissions.
The plant will receive a $5.5 million upgrade, which will include the addition of a receiving dock for trucks to unload 3,000 gallons of grease a day. Microorganisms in the facility’s existing digester will eat their way through the grease, significantly boosting the amount of methane the plant uses to power its generators.
According to Mercury News, the plant already generates 40 to 50 percent of its own power by trapping the methane and carbon dioxide gases that are by-products of the waste breakdown process. The gases enter a combustion engine that in turn powers the generator, creating electricity. The upgraded technology also adds a 250-kilowatt microturbine generator capable of putting out enough energy to survive an outage.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
State Invests $400,000 In Composting “To Reuse More Organic Wastes”
“By diverting organic wastes to businesses and nonprofit groups for their finished products,” says Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, “we are significantly increasing the useful lives of our existing landfills. That’s good for the environment, good for business and good for the people of Pennsylvania.” Adds the head of the state’s Environmental Protection office Kathleen McGinty: “Composting is a terrific example of how an environmental challenge can be turned into an economic development opportunity.” Four businesses and nonprofits will share $400,000 from the Compost Infrastructure Development Grant Program. Recipients include the following:
Delaware Valley College in Doylestown Township, Bucks County – $105,000 to purchase equipment for processing food waste from campus cafeterias and horticultural waste generated on campus. Use of this equipment will improve the quality of the finished compost, increasing its marketability and value. Doylestown Township is sharing the cost for some of the equipment to allow the township to expand the existing yard waste recycling program for the community.
AgRecycle in Indiana Township, Allegheny County – $142,000 to purchase a truck with a multiple hoist system to collect different types of organic waste, including food residuals. The truck will enable AgRecycle to collect organic waste from grocery stores, institutions, small businesses and residences.
Vollmecke Farm in West Brandywine Township, Chester County – $61,000 to purchase equipment that will allow the farm to receive additional organic waste from adjacent townships and food residuals from local businesses. This 37-acre community supported farm currently composts yard waste from the township and organic waste from the farm.
Penn State University in Centre County – $92,000 for equipment that will enable existing composting machinery to be transported and shared between the State College Borough compost facility, the Center County Office of Solid Waste and the university compost facility. Equipment sharing saves each partner money and it also creates a network of organic waste recycling partners within the region. The equipment purchased through this grant also will provide the partners the necessary means to initiate a three-year pilot program for the curbside collection of organic waste in residential areas surrounding State College. This project will be the first of its kind on the East Coast and will develop into a model program to be implemented throughout Pennsylvania.
Sacramento, California
Global Warming Act Sets Nation’s First Cap On Atmospheric Pollution
California is mandating the nation’s first solution to global warming pollution with a 25 percent cut in emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2020. It’s called the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). “California is filling a void created by inaction in Washington,” says Jim Marston of Environmental Defense which originally proposed the idea to empower the state Air Resources board to cut emissions. A University of California study shows that the law may provide up to 89,000 new clean-tech jobs and generate $74 billion annually.
Ocean County, New Jersey
From a 26,000 sq ft building for recycling commingled bottles and cans to an expanded Materials Processing Facility for paper, Ocean County’s Solid Waste Management office keeps enlarging its processing ability. Construction of its Northern Recycling Center will be funded by a Resource Recovery Investment Tax. New single stream paper processing equipment will be installed by Waste Management Recycle America at the existing materials processing facility. The county will also construct a new Southern Recycling Center to handle and bale corrugated cardboard in addition to its current functions. “All of these improvements will enable the county to offer residents an even more efficient recycling program,” says Freeholder James Lacey, liaison to the Solid Waste Department. Meanwhile, the area Master Composter volunteers provided solutions on composting and recycling at the Ocean County Fair in July.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
With 13 recycled fiber collection and processing plants, like Chattanooga Recycled Fiber, the Rock-Tenn Company’s strategy is to use 100 percent recycled fiber in its manufacturing operations. It collects paper materials from area businesses and industries and some from community recycling centers. “We process 90 percent industrial waste and 10 percent residential,” says John Gorman, general manager. Chattanooga representatives will go to a company and tell them which waste materials being thrown away can be recycled, and a truck collects those materials for free.
As reported in an article in Enviro-Link Southeast, collected paper is sorted and sent through a giant shredding machine that can grind 20 tons/hour. Fiber is compacted into one-ton bales and shipped to its manufacturing plants or sold to other companies such as Kimberly-Clark. Rock-Tenn produces at least half the cardboard displays seen along the aisles of grocery stores and is a major manufacturer of recycled paperboard. Nationwide, Rock-Tenn processes about 48,000 tons of recyclable paper annually – saving roughly 816,000 trees/year by using recycled fiber in place of pulp.
Lexington, Kentucky
Reflecting the growing interest in local food production, Kentucky has compiled a report showing the number of registered farmers’ markets increased 10.2 percent and vendors rose 7.7 percent from 2005 to 2006. Gross sales at Kentucky markets in 2005 totaled nearly $7 million. The Lexington Market was the first to report more than $1 million in sales, reaching more than $1.8 million. Growth is credited both to increased state support of farmers’ markets and passage of 2003 legislation that allows Kentuckians to generate value-added products in their homes to sell.
Raleigh, North Carolina
The North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (DPPEA) is seeking viable, well-planned and effective proposals from recycling businesses in the state that want to start up or expand their recovery efforts. The purpose of this grant cycle is to reduce the flow of solid wastes to disposal facilities and to encourage the sustainable recovery of materials from North Carolina’s waste stream. A Request for Pre-Proposals for fundable projects to meet the goals of the grant cycle is available ( Applicants should review this RFP and discuss projects with the program manager prior to submitting a preproposal; applications are due on February 1, 2007.
DPPEA has committed $300,000 from the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund for this grant cycle. Applicants may request any amount of funding up to a maximum of $30,000 and have to provide at least a 50 percent cash match to the requested amount. Private sector and nonprofit organization applicants are eligible for funding under this grant cycle. Any material that can currently be disposed in a municipal solid waste landfill, construction and demolition debris landfill or land clearing and inert debris landfill is eligible for consideration for this grant round. Projects that involve the collection, processing or end use of materials in the solid waste stream are eligible for funding. Generally, the grant money is intended to fund sustainable investments in equipment and buildings necessary for increasing the capacity of a recycling business to divert more materials from disposal and into economic use. Grant money cannot be used to cover labor costs or the cost of contract processing. Questions can be addressed to Matt Todd at (800) 763-0136 or (919) 715-6522, or by email at
San Francisco, California
In early October, Wells Fargo & Company announced it would buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) to support generating 550 million kilowatt-hours of wind energy per year for three years. This decision makes Wells Fargo the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S., reports the U.S. EPA. “This purchase demonstrates our commitment to do what’s right for our customers, our communities and our company,” says John Stumpf, president and Chief Operating Officer of Wells Fargo.
The purchase will offset 40 percent of the company’s electricity consumption with 100 percent Green-e certified wind energy, preventing emission of 380,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Wells Fargo also invested in a Texas-based wind farm and has provided $720 million in financing to develop Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) buildings. The three-year purchase agreement began October 1, 2006.
Burlington, Massachusetts
The First Annual Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Summit will be held on January 25, 2007 at the Burlington Marriott located in Burlington, Massachusetts. The Environmental Business Council-New England is sponsoring the event ( The C&D Summit will build on what the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MADEP) C&D Subcommittee has accomplished in assisting the agency to develop policies and regulations related to construction and demolition debris management. Massachusetts’ ban on disposal of five recyclable items in the C&D stream went into effect this past July (see “C&D Recycling Technologies” on page 35 of this issue). “It’s an opportunity for construction and demolition industry stakeholders to continue to work together to address C&D debris management,” says Jim McQuade, C&D recycling specialist with MADEP.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Kathy Boutin-Pasterz, Recycling Coordinator, and Lee Arnold with the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, recently provided the following update on the on-site campus composting program at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte:
“Our in-vessel composting program diverted 25.55 cubic yards of food scraps from one cafeteria in calendar year 2004-2005. This equaled 11.7 tons of postconsumer food scrapings from the cafeteria’s clientele. We utilize two 3.5 cy Earth Tub in-vessel composters located adjacent to the cafeteria. Cafeteria staff scrape the scraps into 5 gallon buckets that we provide to the program. After weighing the material, it is added into the tubs; untreated sawdust captured from the University’s architectural school’s furniture making classes is used as the primary bulking agent – lessening our waste stream of 4,800 pounds of sawdust for 2004-05.”
“The cafeteria uses real plates and silverware so no biodegradable products are evident in the mix. One of the notable successes of our program is that we are taking in less food scraps than we did in previous years. Since the program’s inception in 2000, we have noted a 27.4 percent decrease in food scraps from the cafeteria. This is in relation to the cafeteria’s expansion and subsequent customer count increase over the years.”
Orlando, Florida
The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) will host the “All Compostable” BBQ on January 23 during the US Composting Council’s conference in Orlando. The goals of the “All Compostable” BBQ are to highlight the growing array of certified compostable foodservice items and the feasibility of incorporating source separated food scraps collection into hotel operations. Food scraps and compostable items will be processed at the nearby Reedy Creek Energy Services composting facility at Disney World. BPI member companies will provide all the items needed to serve and clean up from the BBQ, including glasses and cups, plates and bowls, cutlery and compostable bags. All products to be used meet ASTM D6400 or ASTM D6868. Details on products that meet the ASTM standards can be found at the BPI website,
Dover, Delaware
Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) officials announced a deal whereby methane from its landfills in Kent and Sussex counties will be used to produce 7.4 megawatts of electricity or enough to power 4,500 homes. The gas will be converted to electricity via seven generators to be operated by Framingham, Massachusetts-based Ameresco. Constellation Energy will purchase the electricity under a 10-year agreement. Under Delaware law, power providers are required to have 10 percent of their energy portfolio from renewable resources by 2019. DSWA Chairman Richard Pryor noted that producing that amount of electricity at a power plant would use more than 1,500 rail cars of coal and create about 60,000 tons a year of greenhouse gases.

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