February 21, 2007 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle February 2007, Vol. 48, No. 2, p. 4

New York, New York
New York’s Citywide Recycling Advisory Board is planning a 2007 Round-table to advance plans to move recovery in the commercial sector as well as residential areas. Goals include improving capture rates for mixed wastepaper, diverting organics from both residential and commercial streams, understanding how existing collection and processing systems can work better, and improving C&D recycling. To learn more about the agenda for the March 26-27, 2007 Roundtable, contact Kendall Christiansen, Citywide Recycling Advisory Board, 126 State St., 3rd Floor, Albany, NY 12207.
Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa may be the premier location for generating bioproducts and building the bioeconomy, declares the Iowa Energy & Waste News (Winter 2007). A study by the Institute for Decision Making at the University of Northern Iowa estimates that biobased industries have the potential to create 22,000 jobs and generate $11.6 billion in economic activity in the state. By creating additional demand for corn and other crops, bioproduct market penetration helps stabilize commodity prices, potentially reducing the need for government farm payments.
CO2 released during combustion of biomass materials is recaptured by the growth of the next year’s crops. Unlike fossil fuels, biomass combustion causes no net increase in CO2 released into the atmosphere. Substantial quantities of carbon can be captured in the soil through biomass root structures, creating a net carbon sink.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Waste Exchange (IWE) – with Jeff Geerts as coordinator (email: – has helped more than 1,500 businesses and institutions save on costs of disposal, storage and purchases. Since it began in 1991, it has matched more than 6,000 different types of by-products, diverted more than 900,000 tons of materials from Iowa landfills, and saved companies more than $25 million in disposal costs.
In 2005, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Energy and Waste Management Bureau first presented the concept of large-scale, multiple feedstock, community-based anaerobic digester systems for large concentrations of livestock production and/or large volumes of industrial and urban organic residuals for conversion to renewable energy and valuable fertilizers. For more information, contact Jim Bodensteiner with the DNR at
Baltimore, Maryland
Cooperative efforts to produce and distribute biodiesel – a fuel made from animal fats, vegetable oils and recycled restaurant oils – are springing up around the country, writes Ann Bartz in the latest issue of In Business (sister publication to BioCycle). The co-op started in October, 2006, distributing out of 500-gallon tanks, and now has 22 members at $100 each. The co-op has been assisted by the Maryland Soybean Promotion Board which encourages people to use biodiesel. Writes Bartz, who is program manager for the Business Alliance for local Living Economies (BALLE) in San Francisco: “Baltimore Biodiesel Cooperative ( is now a Maryland nonprofit that distributes and promotes environmentally sustainable fuel for on-road and off-road vehicles for government, business and private use.”
Raleigh, North Carolina
As described in North Carolina’s Recycling Works (Winter 2007) in a report by Sherry Yarkosky, Recycling Business Development Specialist, the state’s Microenterprise Loan Program works with individuals who have “sound ideas for starting or expanding a small business but do not qualify for bank loans.” From 1992 through December 2006, almost 1,270 loans were made totaling $6.6 million. For more information on the Program, contact Carolyn Perry, director, via e-mail at:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 2004, Philadelphia Fry-o-Diesel (PFD) LLC was granted $369,696 under the Pennsylvania Energy Harvest program to partially fund a project converting restaurant trap grease to heating oil and biodiesel. “Once the biodiesel and bioburner fuel meet our specifications, we will make about 1,200 gallons of biodiesel and 3,000 gallons of burner fuel to satisfy requirements of our PA DEP Energy Harvest grant,” say Philadelphia Fry-o-Diesel officials. The company’s long-term goal is commercial production that is financially competitive with petroleum-based products. PFD will leverage the project to attract funds to build a plant that would produce three million gallons/year of B100, using trap grease and yellow grease.
Once product quality is assured, PFD has arranged with the Abington School District to test a B20 blend in its school buses. It also is working with Atlantic Coast Energy, a local heating oil distributor, to identify a suitable testbed for burner fuel.
Pasco County, Florida
Pasco County, Florida, has long had a blue bag recycling program, whereby residents are required to purchase their own blue bags if they want to recycle. A recent project with the Aluminum Can Council’s Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) tested whether the existing blue bag program or a switch to traditional 18-gallon bins would be more successful in lifting curbside recycling participation rates. The program, which took place in a fast-growing area of the county, divided the community into two areas: half would receive free blue bags and the other half would receive two free blue bins. Residents were asked to respond to an initial survey gauging their feedback to the existing program, and were also given additional materials describing the test and how they would benefit from taking part. Newspaper, a commodity previously not accepted at the curb due to its weight, was also added, allowing county officials to gauge whether residents would respond to the added convenience.
Not surprisingly, households with the blue bins had far higher setout rates and recycling volume than their blue bag neighbors – but participation increased with the bags as well. Setout rates for the blue bag pilot route were 12.37 percent higher than the prepilot benchmark where residents were asked to purchase their own bags; conversely, blue bin households had a 37.98 percent increase in setout rates and recycled 13.58 more tons of overall materials than the pilot blue bag route (a 48 percent increase). The two-bin pilot route recycled 13.45 more tons of newspaper than the blue bag route. “It was interesting to see how much participation went up when we made recycling more convenient and educated our homeowners with simple direct mail,” says Rachel Surrency, curbside recycling coordinator for Pasco County. “Even for the pilot route where we provided free blue bags, participation was up compared to the old blue bag program where folks had to proactively go out and purchase blue bags on their own.”
Created three years ago, the national CVP program is a research-based partnership with communities, haulers, material recovery facilities (MRFs) and other stakeholders to identify solutions to improving curbside recycling programs and address falling recycling rates. CVP is funded by the Aluminum Association and Can Manufacturer’s Institute. Current CVP partner communities include, but are not limited to, Arlington County, VA, Burlington County, NJ, Charlotte, NC, Kansas City, MO, Brevard County, FL, Indian River, FL, Denver, CO, Omaha, NE, Orlando, FL, and several counties in Pennsylvania. For more information visit
Ellicottville, New York
Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc. can sell renewable energy credits (RECs) in Massachusetts as the result of state approval of its biomass project, after the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources said it qualifies as an “advanced, lower emission, power conversion technology.” Laidlaw reports that Massachusetts has some of the most stringent requirements for renewable generator eligibility in the country, as well as some of the most favorable REC prices. The Laidlaw Energy Group is developing independent power plants that generate electricity from renewable resources. It is expected that the Laidlaw Ellicottville project, which uses woody biomass fuel, will now set the standard in Massachusetts for biomass projects under ten megawatts seeking eligibility.
RECs generate a separate source of revenue for power plants and represent a premium paid to renewable energy generators by retail suppliers, demonstrating compliance with state-mandated renewable energy targets. For more details on other biomass projects tapping into REC dollars see “Financing Wood-Fired Generating Facilities” in this issue’s BioCycle Energy section.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
“We don’t need a magic bullet. We need leadership,” says Paul Falkowski, a biological oceanographer at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. “My vision is not a think tank but an organization that would foster potential solutions.” Currently under study at the Rutgers Energy Institute are such renewable energy innovations as biofuels from plants, energy from refuse eating microbes, and new materials for improved solar technology. Public policy and conservation outreach are integrated into the institute’s mission. Only one other such university-based initiative -at Stanford – currently exists, says Falkowski, “putting Rutgers at the leading edge of combining conservation, policy and research to create – and not merely contemplate – an oil-free future.”
Toledo, Ohio
Farmers in Ohio and other Midwest states are signing on to programs that pay them for conservation measures capturing carbon in the soil, reports the National Sustainable Agricultural Service. Iowa Farm Bureau and North Dakota Farmers Union are enrolling farmland across the Corn Belt in carbon credit trading programs. The Farmers Union program has signed up 1.1 million acres to date and made its first sales on the Chicago Climate Exchange last month. Recent trading rates have compensated farmers between $2 and $4 per acre for grassland and forest planting. Dairy farmers have also traded methane-capturing measures at a rate of up to $30 per cow per year.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Dr. Yuefeng Xie of Penn State’s environmental engineering staff has developed a method using crumb rubber from scrap tires to filter wastewater. The crumb rubber is produced by chopping up and grinding tires to a desired size, removing metal particles and cleaning the rubber. It is currently used in highway pavement, playgrounds, landfill liners, compost bulking agents and energy recovery.
For traditional wastewater filtration, gravity downflow filters with sand or anthracite as a medium are used. One major problem is that upon backwashing the particles, the larger ones settle at a greater rate than the smaller. Dr. Xie explains that this causes the top of the filter bed to hold the smallest particles so the top layer tends to become clogged quickly. Through the crumb rubber method, larger solids are removed at the top layer of the filter and smaller solids at a lower level greatly minimize clogging. Since crumb rubber is compressible, the porosity of the particles is decreased resembling an ideal filter medium configuration. The crumb rubber media provide better effluent qualities and larger media allow longer filter runs at higher flow rates.
Because of substantially higher water filtration rates and lighter weight compared to sand or anthracite, the filters may also be used in a mobile treatment unit for disaster relief operations.
Davis, California
The University of California-Davis Extension will conduct a series of one-day courses on the positive power of Renewable Energy – including issues of site feasibility, system sizing, installation and economics. For example, Bioenergy Systems is a course targeting prospective developers with topics on the elements of generating fuels from biomass: collection, handling and processing; biochemical conversion; biomass feedstocks and bioproducts, and bioenergy policy and economics including California incentives. Course will take place Saturday, June 9, 2007 from 8 am to 5 pm. Instructor is Bryan Jenkins, chair of UC Davis Bioenergy Research Group and director of the California Biomass Collaborative, who will be speaking also at the 23rd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference in San Diego April 16-18. His topic in San Diego is: “More Than Just Hot Air – Actions to Achieve California’s Biofuels Goal.” For San Diego, see Conference agenda in this issue; For Davis session, contact:
Rosemead, California
The agreement with Alta Windpower Development LLC more than doubles Southern California Edison’s (SCE) portfolio and envisions more than 50 square miles of wind power parks in the Tehachapi region – triple the size of any existing U.S. wind farm. These agreements bring to 1,889 MW the amount of environmentally sensitive power resulting from the SCE competitive renewable energy solicitation. It’s the equivalent of two traditional power plants and enough generation to serve one million average homes.

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