May 23, 2007 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle May 2007, Vol. 48, No. 5, p. 16

Thurston County, Washington
The Silver Springs Cattle Co. in Tenino, Washington is an all natural beef provider. Recently, the company formed a subsidiary, Silver Springs Organics, LLC, a fully permitted composting facility to process 10,000 tons/year of source separated organics – including cattle manure. “Our permit allows us to process Type I, Type II and Type III organics wastes, including yard trimmings, pre and postconsumer food residuals, wood, and various types of agricultural waste streams,” says Greg Schoenbachler of Silver Spring Organics. The site is using Engineered Compost Systems’ covered aerated static pile technology with biofiltration. It also accepts waxed corrugated, mixed paper and soiled and nonrecyclable paper, as well as compostable plastic products. “After a long road of planning and construction, we are proud to say that we are now operational,” he adds. The first batch of finished compost, to be sold both in bulk and bags, is expected to be ready in mid-June.
Andover, New Jersey
AG Choice, LLC in Sussex County is the first New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-approved agricultural composting facility permitted to collect and receive agricultural waste (i.e., animal and stall waste, spoiled hay, silage, etc.) and preconsumer food waste from area grocery stores, including fruits, vegetables, bread and floral waste. and compost it for off-farm use. AG Choice was started by Jill and Jay Fischer in the summer of 2006, initially to compost horse manure. “My family started Fischer & Son Sawmill in 1997, manufacturing horse shavings as well as lumber products, but later focused on just the lumber products,” says Jay Fischer. “In 2005, we began looking into the feasibility of starting a composting business to assist some of our sawmill customers who we deliver sawdust to for a base bedding in their horse stall. We would go to so many clean, pristine-looking horse farms, and inevitably around the backside of the barn or property was an unsightly, smelly, fly-covered pile of manure and bedding. When I asked these customers what they do with it, most of them said they wished they knew what to do with it and would be thrilled if I started a business to help them with their manure management.”
AG Choice provides containers to some of the horse farms (with minimum of 15 horses); smaller farms drop their material off. The company received a $75,000 EQUIP (NRCS/USDA) grant to purchase turning equipment from Midwest Bio-System. The site also utilizes fleece Compostex covers for the windrows. In the last two quarters of 2006, AG Choice removed and composted more than 650 cubic yards of manure and soiled bedding. The Fischers also began servicing several grocery stores in the area, collecting preconsumer food residuals. More than 85 tons were collected in 2006. Finished compost is available in bulk, and bagged. Bagged products are sold in area nurseries, garden centers, and Whole Foods Markets.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco Recycling & Disposal, Inc., a Norcal Waste company, recently added The Organics Annex to its MSW transfer station to accommodate the growth of the city and county’s Food Scrap Compost Program. Route trucks servicing the residential and commercial source separated organics program have always brought materials to this facility, but now there is a dedicated tipping floor. After trucks unload, a tractor pushes the food-rich mix off the “open pit” edge of the tipping floor and into long-haul trucks destined for Norcal composting facilities outside Vacaville and Gilroy. At the end of each shift, workers power wash the annex floor to manage odors and vectors. More than 300 tons of food scraps and yard trimming are collected each day in the city. Approximately 75,000 city homes and 2,100 restaurants, coffee shops and other food-related businesses participate in the organics diversion program.
Bloomington, Indiana
Biological engineers at Purdue, led by Michael Ladisch, have created a portable refinery that converts food, paper, Styrofoam, cardboard and plastic into electricity. Described in Resource, the biorefinery – roughly the size of a small moving van – first separates food waste from residual trash. The food residuals go to a bioreactor where industrial yeast ferments them into ethanol. Residuals go to a gasifier where they are heated under low-oxygen conditions and become low-grade propane gas and methane. The prototype generated nearly 90 percent more energy than it consumed during testing. Designed for the military, the machine would let soldiers create power from waste and avoid the expense and danger of transporting waste and fuel. Ladisch can be contacted at:
Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NCSU) is hosting its 7th Annual Worm Farming Conference, June 14-15, 2007 in Raleigh. The conference will present the latest research on the effects of worm castings and tea on plant growth and disease suppression, how to effectively market worms and castings, and review vermicomposting technologies and systems. Testing vermicompost soil and feedstocks, as well as brewing vermicompost tea, also will be covered. Seasoned worm growers will share their experiences. Speakers include Dr. Norman Arancon, a vermicomposting researcher at the Soil Ecology Laboratory at Ohio State University; Tom Christenberry, a vermicomposter and technology developer; and Rhonda Sherman of NC State, a veteran vermicomposting researcher and instructor, who organizes the annual Worm Farming Conference. The second day of the workshop features a tour NCSU’s Compost Training Facility, which has a 40-foot by 30-foot vermicomposting facility that house a continuous-flow reactor and a dozen other types of vermicomposting units, including a worm wigwam. More details available at
Sacramento, California
To spearhead the organization’s greenhouse gas reduction efforts, the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) Board formed the new Recyclers Global Warming Council. This Council is charged to work with other organizations wanting to form a coalition addressing the role that reducing, reusing, recycling and composting discarded materials can play in reducing greenhouse gases.
The Council grew from CRRA’s March 19, 2007 workshop, “Reducing Greenhouse Gases by Composting Organics.” That Sacramento workshop brought together a new coalition to inform the state’s climate change policy makers of the major role that composting can play.
Approximately 100 representatives of composting and recycling businesses and organizations were convened by the CRRA to develop a common position to present to decision makers.
The group defined five key issues: 1. Composting to date has received insufficient attention for its importance to reducing the waste industry’s responsibility for greenhouse gases. Increasing composting diverts the decomposable part of our discards from landfills where it rots in oxygen-starved conditions that create the methane emissions of concern; 2. Landfill operators claim that it captures most of the methane, but the little information that is available does not support those claims; and 3. California’s singular practice of allowing the use of cheap compostable yard trimmings as an alternative daily landfill cover (or ADC) to qualify for recycling credits is crippling the state’s compost industry and must be ended.
CRRA has set up a discussion group for anyone who is interested in these issues at: For more information about the Recyclers Global Warming Council, contact John Davis at (909) 797-7717 or For more information about CRRA’s Policy Committee, contact Rick Anthony, CRRA Policy Committee Chair, (858) 272-2905 or
King County, Washington
More than half of the materials that go to the Cedar Hills landfill each year are readily recyclable, and King County’s LinkUp program wants to find new markets. Starting this year, LinkUp will focus on reducing market barriers for key recyclable with plans to select four priority materials each year. Materials for 2007 are asphalt shingles, glass bottles, gypsum wallboard and urban wood, which is primarily from construction and demolition activities.
“There is great potential to increase recycling of these materials,” said LinkUp Program Manager Kris Beatty. Potentially recyclable materials generated in King County (outside Seattle) were found to have an estimated value of more than $40 million.
This year’s materials were chosen based on the potential for increased recycling in King County (outside Seattle):
Glass bottles – Approximately 40,000 tons of glass bottles are generated in King County, and only slightly more than half are recycled.
Asphalt shingles – An estimated 17,000 tons of asphalt shingle waste are generated by construction and demolition activities in King County each year; less than 1,000 tons are currently recycled.
Gypsum wallboard – Construction and demolition activities in King County generated an estimated 31,000 tons of gypsum wallboard waste in 2005, with only about 6,000 tons being recycled.
Urban wood – 94,000 tons of recyclable urban wood are disposed each year in King County.
LinkUp assists the marketplace in a number of ways, including locating reliable suppliers and evaluating technologies and markets for recycled materials, assisting with material and product testing and providing marketing and communications assistance.
King County has launched a redesigned website,, reflecting the changes to LinkUp, which will serve as a resource for the business recycling community. More information is available by visiting the LinkUp website, or by contacting Beatty at kris.beatty@, or (206) 296-3740.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Since the 1.5 million square foot David Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) opened in 2003 – with its Gold LEED Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council – its green practices have yielded the following results:
Approximately 203,940 pounds of paper and cardboard have been recycled which translates into conservation of approximately 1,727 trees and 713,790 gallons of water; The 8,860 pounds of glass and plastics recycled at the convention center save enough energy to burn 147 100-watt light bulbs for one year; DLCC’s water reclamation system treated and reused 5.08 million gallons of water, enough to run 103 households annually or 325,333 individual dishwashers.
Levy Restaurants, the official food service provider at the DLCC, uses products that are biodegradable and compostable as part of their standard food and beverage functions. Examples of their initiatives include: cups and plates made from Polylactic acid (PLA) – a resin derived entirely from natural corn starches and is 100 percent compostable; Flatware made of compostable potato starch; Packaging components of boxed lunches are 100 percent compostable including the box, napkins, cookie bag, flatware, sandwich and salad containers.
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Schools in St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Robbinsdale school districts in Hennepin County are participating in a food residuals recycling program with assistance from the County’s recycling office. Grants are given to the schools to set up special collection bins in the cafeteria, line them with compostable bags and arrange for organics pickup. Students scrape their plates into the bins. According to an article in Star Tribune, participating schools in the Robbinsdale District found that trash pickups dropped from five times a week to two or three, saving $4,900 in 2006. Collected food residuals are composted by Resource Recovery Technologies at its site in Empire Township, which is permitted to receive pre and postconsumer food waste.
Thirty-five schools participate in the school composting program, which was recently selected for a Local Government Innovation Award by the University of Minnesota’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the Humphrey Institute for its unique collaboration with four school districts and the City of Minneapolis on the school organics programs. “Hennepin County is excited about partnering with schools on this effort, since early education about waste reduction and the importance of organics composting is a great way to teach young people lifelong habits that will collectively improve our environment,” says Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Koblick. “If kids grow up with an understanding of how to compost and reduce waste, these practices will become community norms.”
Albany, New York
According to Silda Wall Spitzer and Governor Eliot Spitzer, the 20,000 sq ft mansion – home to New York’s governors since 1875 – will undergo planned renovations that “will transition the mansion into the 21st century as a sustainable home going into the future, while preserving its historic character.” In Phase 1, appliances will be replaced by energy-efficient models, including low-flow shower heads and fluorescent bulbs. In Phase 2, three sets of solar panels will be installed. In Phase 3, staff will convert to ecologically sound maintenance, using nontoxic cleaning supplies, organic pest controls, and begin composting food waste, with chefs buying as much organic produce as possible. By June 2008, the mansion will use 50 percent less power with half as much greenhouse emissions. Annual utility costs will drop to less than $60,000 from $86,000.

Sign up