April 26, 2007 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle April 2007, Vol. 48, No. 4, p. 14

Raleigh, North Carolina
The number of jobs related to recycling are increasing in North Carolina and becoming more important to the state’s economy, reports a new publication from the Division of Pollution Prevention. Between 1994 and 2004, recycling jobs increased from 8,700 to 14,000. In contrast, manufacturing jobs declined from 817,000 to 577,400 during the same 10-year period. The report is called Made in North Carolina: Recycled Content Products Help Fuel the State’s Economy.
“Our state’s recycled product companies are doing their part to retain manufacturing jobs in North Carolina and the United States,” says Scott Mouw, a division section chief. “They are operating profitable businesses giving people the products they want.” Products manufactured include paper, plastic bottles as well as items such as composite decking and rubber mulch. Regardless of what feedstock is used or consumer item produced, manufacturers in North Carolina rely increasingly on recycled materials. For more details, contact Mouw at (919) 715-6512.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Minnesota is home to more than 5,000 dairy farms with most having fewer than 100 cows, writes Dan Lemke in the latest AURI Ag Innovation News. Finding an economically-viable way to modernize could help these small operations survive.
Compost-bedded-pack dairy barns are innovative lower construction cost systems with improved cow comfort, and also help to solve some manure management issues. These open facilities have bedding, typically sawdust, several feet deep. Cows lounge on the thick pack where microbial activity causes the manure and bedding to compost, creating warmth for the cows and reducing pathogens. Since wood is only one source of bedding, AURI and the University of Minnesota are investigating alternatives.
Researchers at the St. Paul campus have tested 11 different media for chemical, physical and microbiological characteristics including: beet pulp, corn cobs, corn stover, elm chips, flax straw, pine bark, and wheat-straw screenings. Testing was done for pH, water-holding capacity, carbon to nitrogen ratios, bulk density and free air space. “We still don’t have all the answers,” says Tom Halbach of the Soil, Water and Climate Department at the University, who says one product looks to be viable.
“Corn cobs worked because they’re light and airy, are low in carbon, and easy to handle. But the challenge is they’re difficult to find a supply.” Adds Al Doering, who heads AURI’s coproduct lab in Waseca: “Because of the growing interest in compost barns and the demand for bedding material, this really provides an excellent opportunity to utilize ag fibers and coproducts.” Four different media are undergoing more tests – including sawdust, a blend of sawdust and small wood chips, corn cobs and soybean straw.
Sacramento, California
The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) adopted a Strategic Directive on Producer Responsibility in mid-February that covers its role “as a core value of the agency’s mission.” It directs CIWMB to “seek statutory authority to foster cradle to cradle producer responsibility and to develop and maintain relationship with station stakeholders that result in producer financed and producer managed systems for product as guards.”
The directive has received strong support from local governments in California, particularly since a statewide disposal ban went into effect a year ago banning fluorescent lamps, household batteries and other electronic products from trash. Cost of collecting, disposing or recycling these products easily exceeds $100 million a year, observes Carol Misseldine, director of the California Product Stewardship Council, whose members are local governments from the state. Six jurisdictions in California, including San Francisco and Oakland, have passed Resolutions calling for statewide policies.
“Adopting the directive establishes California as a leader in the growing international movement for Extended Producer Responsibility,” says Bill Sheehan, executive director of the Athens, Georgia-based Product Policy Institute, declaring it “will harness market forces to transform wasteful systems of production and consumption.”
Mount Vernon, Maine
A new paper on E. coli risks by Pat Millner and David Ingram of the USDA staff in Beltsville, Maryland indicates that teas made by the slow brew European method (up to one week brewing) actually lead to better hygiene. The paper was published in the Journal of Food Protection.
An accompanying press release from Woods End Laboratories makes these observations: “The key is not to add ingredients that support pathogen growth. …We have advocated European slow-brew methods and thought that more popular fast ferment methods to attain high bacteria counts in effect were recreating an unstable compost condition similar to using raw manure.” By showing what the risks could be and also recognizing safer practices, the paper affirms the potential usefulness of compost teas, according to Woods End. Will Brinton is head of the Woods End Laboratories.
Plains, Georgia
“The production of alternative fuels, such as biodiesel, is a very important step toward energy independence,” said President Jimmy Carter as he helped break ground on a new biodiesel plant in his hometown. The Alterra Bioenergy Corporation plans to make some of its biodiesel from peanuts grown on the former President’s farm. The fuel will be produced from a number of feedstocks. When constructed, the new plant will join 105 other biodiesel facilities and will have the capacity to produce 15 to 30 million gallons of fuel per year. U.S. production of biodiesel nearly tripled from 75 million gallons in 2005 to about 225 million gallons in 2006.
Mount Vernon, Washington
The On-Farm Mortality Composting Research and Education Project is a joint effort between the BIOAg program at Washington State University and the Washington State Dept. of Ecology, with additional support from the Washington Dept. of Agriculture. The purpose is to promote on-farm composting for livestock mortalities over 300 pounds. “Farmers need another option,” explains Caitlin Price, project coordinator. “For many, it’s no longer just an alternative, it’s a necessity.”
The research portion consists of six trial sites in Washington State that range in size from one to over 20 animals. One of the sites is at the WSU compost yard in Pullman. The other five are in Skagit, Adams, Grant and Yakima counties. These trials will compare management techniques as well as effects of climate and material differences by region. The education portion consists of field days at farm trial sites, bulletins, classes and presentations. Information will be shared about best composting methods.
Burlington, Massachusetts
With over 200 attending the 1st Annual C&D Summit, cohosted by regional environmental groups, much information was exchanged on disposal bans, up-front processing and wood utilization. (Massachusetts is the first state in the U.S. to impose a C&D Debris Disposal Ban.) Facility operators presented two different approaches: Separating materials prior to grinding wood or grinding mixed loads and separating further “downstream.”
Because of concerns over mulch contamination with hazardous materials, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is cautiously evaluating use of clean construction wood in mulch and has issued a draft, Beneficial Use Determination (BUD). Greg Wirsen of Green Seal Environmental – after conducting a pilot project – concluded that if processors are “very, very careful” in keeping clean wood separate, then a safe mulch can be generated for use in landscaping, animal bedding, bulking agent for biosolids composting, and fuel pellets. Due to extensive sampling and chemical testing requirements proposed in the draft BUD, Green Seal estimates it would cost $84/ton to comply with the regulations.
El Cajon, California
Mayor Mark Lewis and the El Cajon City Council passed a resolution adopting “Zero Waste as a Goal” during the council’s bimonthly meeting on February 13, 2007, becoming the first city to do so in San Diego County. Introduced by the mayor himself, the resolution passed unanimously, 5-0. The item background on the city’s Agenda Report stated: “The City of El Cajon cares deeply for the natural beauty of our region, yet still desires economic growth; however, not at the expense of the environment. This resolution was passed in April 2006 by the County of San Diego Integrated Waste Management Citizens Advisory Committee and is being suggested by the Committee that the county and all the cities in the county adopt a similar resolution.”
“It’s the wave of the future,” said Mayor Lewis. “We’re doing this for our children and grandchildren.” Zero waste has been gaining popularity statewide as the most logical approach to long-term resource management. El Cajon has joined the following communities in California that have adopted Zero Waste as a goal: the City of Oakland, San Francisco City and County, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Marin County Solid Waste Management Authority, Del Norte County, San Luis Obispo County, and Santa Cruz County (including separate adoption of zero waste as a goal by all four cities in the county).
With a population of approximately 98,000 and 14.6 square miles of land, El Cajon plans to increase diversion through programs that encourage residents, businesses and agencies to use, reuse, and recycle materials more judiciously. Currently at 54 percent diversion, the city’s resolution targets 75 percent by 2010 towards a future goal of Zero Waste. Specific programs to meet diversion targets are in the process of development.
Edmonton, Canada
Edmonton’s Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant produces about 2,500 cubic meters of sludges per day, soon to be increased by 25 percent. About 5,000 dry tons per year of biosolids are applied to farms under the city’s NutriGold Program. In addition, 22,000 dry tons per year are composted at the Waste Management Center.
One new approach with the Canadian Forest Service involves using biosolids to enhance growth of biomass such as willows or poplars. The willows can be harvested as fuel in a gasification process or used as bulking agent in the composting process, explains Darryl Seehagel, Research Center training supervisor. Other research is looking at: Different strategies for drying biosolids, turning them into pellets; and Beneficially reusing high concentrations of ammonia from biosolids supernatant.

Sign up