June 21, 2007 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle June 2007, Vol. 48, No. 6, p. 15

Madison, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind has introduced a bill that would develop renewable energy from animal waste by providing tax incentives and loans for small businesses to promote anaerobic digestion. “I recognize that biogas is just one part of our larger course to energy independence, but it’s one that will invest in rural communities and grow our economy,” said Kind. His bill would offer producers a tax credit of $4.27 for each unit of biogas. Currently, there are 16 farm digesters in operation in Wisconsin, and it’s estimated that if all 186 farms in the state with 500-999 cattle installed digesters, enough power would be generated to power thousands of homes.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
After an extensive survey, Cempre News reports trends on recovery, processing and other data for Brazil. The update presents figures for paper, steel, tires, PET, aluminum, glass and aseptic cartons.
The Brazilian Paper and Pulp Association (Bracelpa) reveals that Brazil consumed 3.4 million tons of recyclable paper types in 2005. Recycling rate for this material was 46.9 percent on “apparent paper consumption.” In the South and Southeastern regions, recycling rates varied from 44 to 64 percent; in other regions, the rate drops to 16 percent. About 128 recycling companies account for over half the total fibers in the country, and another 19 recycle smaller amounts. Per capita consumption in Brazil is one of the lowest in the world (39.5 kilos), and Brazil ranks eleventh in world paper production and seventh in pulp production.
Steel drink cans have been present in Brazil since 1997, and today account for eight percent of metal drink cans with the greatest market share in the Northeast region (51 percent). Scrap is reutilized in such other applications as girders and sheet steel.
A tire study by the Institute of Technological Research shows that of the approximate 22 million tires discarded annually in Brazil, 46.8 percent are able to be reused. The recycling rate for glass fell from 47 to 45 percent in 2003. “Even so, the country is ahead of great industrial powers such as the U.S. (40 percent),” declares the Brazilian Business Commitment for Recycling.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotians dispose of 45 percent less waste than the Canadian average. As a result, the Nova Scotia diversion rate is the highest in the country. About 46,000 metric tons of recyclables and 58,000 metric tons of organic matter were collected at curbside in 2005-06 and diverted from landfills. 90 percent of Nova Scotians now have access to curbside collection of organics waste dropping by 2015 to 300 kg sent to landfills. Other diversion programs keep large amounts of material out of landfills such as: Beverage containers – 16,000 metric tons, tires – 10,000 metric tons; organic residuals from restaurants and food related companies – 25,000 metric tons, paper and cardboard – 65,000 metric tons; wood, metal from C&D – more than 80,000 metric tons.
Since 1996, about 1,200 jobs have been created in the province’s waste and recycling sector. Residents can return leftover paint to their local Enviro-Depot, batteries to major retailers, and used oil to local sellers. Electronic devices – computers, printers and TVs – are diverted from landfills. By 2015, average materials sent to landfills will drop from 427 kg per person per year to 300 kg.
Jefferson City, Missouri
Seeking to have the new Farm Bill call for pro-biodiesel provisions – like the Biodiesel Incentive Program and Biodiesel Education Program – the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) urges these measures be included. “Construction of our biodiesel facility is the direct result of programs in the 2002 Farm Bill,” said Neil Rich, CEO of Riksch BioFuels of Crawfordsville, Iowa. The plant created 14 high-quality jobs in southeastern Iowa to allow it to produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel annually. “Through biodiesel, soybean growers can help fuel the nation,” added soybean grower John Hoffman from Waterloo, Iowa.
Every renewable fuel program worldwide is supported by government funding. A number of countries subsidize biodiesel production or offer incentives for biodiesel export. Besides competing with subsidized imports, the U.S. biodiesel industry is struggling to establish itself at a time of extremely volatile energy markets. Long-term forecasts expect biodiesel demand to increase average soybean prices nearly 10 percent by 2015.
Berkeley, California
The Spring 2007 issue of Terrain has an article by Lisa Owens Viani about potential problems in earthworm tissues. Scientists have known that PPCPs – the Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products that make their way into wastewater – are not completely removed by sewage treatment plants. They also began examining whether the “pharma residue” might be present in biosolids. A U.S. Geological Survey team found that a mixture of household disinfectants, synthetics, etc. often are present in high concentrations. They then decided to collect earthworms from farm fields in the Midwest and western U.S. Notes Ed Furlong of the U.S. Geological Survey: “Earthworms aren’t migratory – they’re in the soil and reflect what’s happening locally. We thought that if these compounds persist in the soil, the earthworm would be a good candidate to study.”
Researchers detected 31 compounds, among them household disinfectants, caffeine and Prozac in the worms’ tissues in concentrations ranging from 100s to 1000s of micrograms per kilogram (parts per billion). Furlong considers these concentrations very low, but does think they need more research. “We’re still coming up with questions,” he says. “This is a way for people to recognize that their choices in what they use and what we as a society reflect in the waste stream – and end up in the watershed.”
Columbus, Ohio
“We believe that more families will recycle if we make it free and easy – letting families Get Green close to home,” said Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. “I’m grateful to our partners who have nearly doubled the number of neighborhood recycling drop locations.” The drop boxes will be part of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) recycling program with Columbus Schools. Adds Mike Long of SWACO: “We have seen an increase of 17 percent in the last two years at our 70 dropoff locations. During the first four months of 2007, usage is up another nine percent.”
Currently Columbus pays $46.50 to deliver a ton of trash to transfer stations; future cost will be $25 a ton. In 2006, the figure was almost 9,600 tons. SWACO will collect bottles, cans, paper, cardboard and other recyclables and will deliver everything to the Rumpke Material Recovery Facility. It is projected that for 2006-2007, schools will recycle approximately 1,000 tons.
Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced that the city will plant 100,000 trees by 2020 to increase its urban “forest canopy” by 20 percent. Called “Grow Boston Greener,” this partnership between public and private sectors will connect the U.S. Forest Service and the city’s Urban Forest Coalition. “This is about civic engagement and strengthening neighborhood roots,” explained Menino, “an investment that can bring people of the community together. Trees help communities by making people feel better about where they live.”
An assessment made last summer showed Boston’s current cover at 29 percent – compared to other cities like Baltimore (20 percent) and New York City (25 percent). Formed in March, 2005, the Coalition includes the Forest Service, Boston Parks and Recreation Dept., Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Earth Works, MA GIS, Mapping Sustainability, Neighborhood Development, Urban Ecology Institute, and the regional Natural Resources Institute. For more details visit .
Phoenix, Arizona
Blocks of recycled polystyrene and cement are being used as traditional construction materials. Called the Apex Block – their manufacturer calls them the most energy efficient block on the market, they keep 2,830 pounds of polystyrene out of landfills per home built. “There is a demand for better green building materials, and this new plant will serve the market well,” says an executive with Apex Construction Systems, Inc.
Apex makes alternative and sustainable building panels that can replace wood, steel and insulating framing products used in construction of residential homes, multifamily properties and commercial buildings. For more details, visit www.apexblock. com. Each block is described as having a tested thermal value of R-52 – cutting heating and cooling costs by at least 60 percent. Blocks weight 51 pounds, are fire resistant and insect retardant.
Benson, Minnesota
Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state, but is having problems with using manure as power plant feedstock. A proposal to create a $200 million power plant to burn litter has become a target of environmental advocates who question its earth-friendliness, writes Susan Saulny in The New York Times. Critics say the litter, of all farm animals’ manure, is most valuable as a rich, organic fertilizer. Detractors call it “another pollutant-spewing, old-technology incinerator dressed up in green clothing.”
Counters Rupert Fraser, chief executive for Fibrowatt which is building the plant: “We’re seeking to provide an environmentally sustainable service to the industry which produces renewable energy. We are doing everything to the highest possible standard.” Turkey farmer Greg Langmo, who has 49,000 birds producing 8,000 tons of manure a year, asks: “Is it green enough? I’m in no position to judge that. It just feels right. And I think the vast majority of Americans would look and say, ‘I think it makes sense.'” (See article in this issue – page 44 – “Renewable Energy Companies Continue Their Surge.”)
Washington, D.C.
On May 23, 2007, Terry Davies – senior adviser at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here and a former EPA administrator – released a report titled “EPA and Nanotechnolgy.” It would help EPA meet the challenge of nanotechnology products and materials in the marketplace. It also calls for Congress to annually target $50 million to research its impacts.
Former EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus explains that nanotechnology could be the most significant advance of this century, holding tremendous potential for breakthroughs in clean water and energy production. “Faced with globalization and emerging 21st century issues, EPA must change to meet these new challenges,” he declared.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter and 1,000 times smaller than a micrometer. Typical nanotechnology deals with particles and structures larger than one nanometer but smaller than 100 nanometers. The report outlines more than 25 steps that can be taken by EPA, Congress and the industry – some of which would launch a program to collect risk information and remove constraints from EPA to share data.
Sacramento, California
California’s Conservation Department is accepting funding proposals for its Beverage Container Recycling Market Development program – a total of $20 million to encourage “sustainable, innovative approaches to the recovery and reuse of recyclable bottles and cans.” The grants would also stimulate job creation.
The Department is seeking innovative but realistic projects that: 1) Create market opportunities for new, sustainable products or packaging made from glass, plastic or aluminum recycled beverage container materials;
2) Expand market-related activities for existing products made from recycled beverage container materials;
3) Improve the quality and supply of beverage container material feedstock for use in manufacturing sustainable products or packaging. Businesses, nonprofits, cities, counties, joint power authorities, universities, tribes and state or federal government organizations have been invited to submit concept papers by July 13, 2007.
Recycling market development and expansion-related proposals may address, but are not limited to: Research and development of collecting, sorting, processing, cleaning, or otherwise upgrading the market value of recycled beverage containers; Identification, development, and expansion of markets for recycled beverage containers; Research and development for products manufactured using recycled beverage containers; and Research and development to provide high quality materials that are substantially free of contamination.
Brattleboro, Vermont
A two-year Master of Business Administration program at the Marlboro College Graduate Center (802) 251-7644) responds to the need to educate business leaders to understand the value of people, planet and profits. “We want our graduates to run organizations in ways that value employees, respect local cultures and preserve the environment,” explains program Director Ralph Meima.
The Marlboro MBA is expected to be of particular interest to professionals involved in renewable energy, environmental technology, organic products; those seeking to learn how climate change and fossil fuel scarcity can create new socially responsible business opportunities. Business leaders estimate the “green economy” represents more than $230 billion annually in sales of socially and environmentally responsible products. “We’ll teach them how to use business as a tool for positive change,” adds Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell. Taught in person and online, students will meet at the Marlboro College Graduate Center in Brattleboro for four days each month. For more details, visit
Seattle, Washington
Sponsored by The HumanLinks Foundation and designed as a resource for learning about sustainable food and agriculture in Washington state, the Washington Food System directory is now online with access to more than 80 nonprofit agencies. HumanLinks Foundation president Gretchen Garth says “the Directory shows the growing strength of the many organizations working toward good food. The Directory gives the local food movement shape and form.”
While the Directory focuses on the region’s food system, the editors are keenly aware that their project is part of the global sustainability movement and are exploring integrating with WiserEarth which provides access to more than 100,000 groups. According to Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest, the Directory is a subtly disguised declaration “of interdependence – integrating the fabric of our communities so we can stop importing our lives and reimagine them.”
The intention of the directory is to serve individuals, organizations and agencies promoting sustainable agriculture and community food security. For questions about the Washington Food System Directory, contact Mark Musick,

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