January 24, 2008 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle January 2008, Vol. 49, No. 1, p. 16

Kapolei, Hawaii
A plant is planned to refine biodiesel for Maui Electric Company (MECO) to be completed by 2009. It will be jointly owned by Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and BlueEarth Fuels. Says MECO president Ed Reinhardt: “This biodiesel plant will be a first step toward allowing Maalaea Power Plant to generate all of its electricity without fossil fuels.”
The biodiesel sales agreement between Maui Electric and BlueEarth will specify that all biodiesel imported to Maui must come from environmentally responsible sources. HECO is working with the Natural Resources Defense Council to craft an effective and enforceable sourcing model.
BlueEarth and partners have pledged to work closely with other local biofuels producers to build more production of biodiesel. The utility supplies electricity to about 95 percent of the state’s 1.2 million residents. All profits from this enterprise will go to a public trust fund to support biofuels development in Hawaii. Eventually, the refinery could generate 120 million gallons (in 2011), and there are plans to use it at Hawaiian Electric plants on Oahu and on the Big Island.
Allentown, Pennsylvania
The Allentown Wegmans supermarket began a food waste diversion program in 1999, shortly after it opened. It has a comprehensive system for collecting consistently clean food wastes, and Four Springs Farm has an equally ideal setup for composting. The arrangement is so successful that corporate Wegmans wants all of its supermarkets to follow suit with similar composting programs. The Allentown store generally notifies food banks two days before expiration dates, for high value use of unwanted food items. After that, employees collect undesirable food in red bins for composting, including produce, fruit, coffee grounds, bakery items, dry goods and frozen food. The bins are located both out in the aisles of the store (for weeding out old items) and behind the scenes (for bulk disposal). Some departments, like the bakery, have a red bin at their station all the time.
A list of acceptable materials is photocopied and distributed to employees, broken down by supermarket department. Each department has specifications for what may and may not be included, as well as specific procedures to be followed. Individual departments are responsible for keeping loads clean.
Food residuals are sent to Four Springs Farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania for composting, and a pig farm in New Jersey for feed. Collection frequency depends on the season, ranging between every 10 days to once every 2 weeks. On average, 7 tons of food waste are collected in two weeks. Waxed cardboard is baled and recycled separately. Chrin Hauling, based in Easton, Pennsylvania, hauls the loads at $25 per ton and provides feedback on their quality to curb potential contamination.
Four Springs Farm is about 25 miles away from the Wegmans store. Kenneth Gehringer at Four Springs has been accepting food scraps from Wegmans since the beginning of the program. He also takes yard trimmings from Allentown to use as bedding for the wet food loads. Allentown delivers the yard trimmings free of charge.
Four Springs Farm is currently negotiating with Lehigh Valley Hospital, which wants to deliver food residuals for composting. Gehringer takes in horse stall waste from local farms to add to the mix, aiming for a 3:1 ratio of bedding and yard waste to food scraps. He uses the majority of the compost produced on his own farm fields, although some is sold through word of mouth. The farm receives composted biosolids from A&M Composting and processed biosolids from Synagro which are applied directly to the fields.
Akron, Ohio
Schmack BioEnergy LLC, formed with Schmack Biogas AG in Germany, has completed its first project, an anaerobic digester at the KB Composting Services biosolids facility in Akron. The digester began operating this past December, and will initially take about a third of the City of Akron’s biosolids. A 335 kW Jenbacher gas engine is used to convert the biogas into electricity. Between 20 and 30 percent of that power will go to the wastewater plant; the rest will be used for the city’s composting operations at the same location and operated by KB Composting.
“We will save money by not having to purchase an equivalent amount of electricity, thus offsetting some of the $1.35 million we spend annually for electricity there,” says Mayor Don Plusquellic. Akron’s biosolids plant is the first in the U.S. to use the Schmack technology to generate electricity, although the practice has precedent in Europe. After an 18-month performance evaluation, contracts will be renegotiated with the possibility of the digester taking all of the city’s biosolids. Currently, the city’s composting facility, which opened in 1986, takes 1.2 million gallons/week of biosolids. There is discussion of closing the composting operations in favor of the new digester, if the 18-month review goes well. “We’d like to eventually replace the composting plant,” Plusquellic says. “It has served Akron well for more than 20 years, but it’s getting old and the odors are still an occasional problem for us.”
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
The Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP) announced a new class for experienced composters (municipal, farm, nonprofit or for-profit) who would like to expand beyond the basics of leaf and yard waste composting into food residuals, manures and other challenging materials. It will be offered on March 6, 2008 at the Montgomery County Extension Office. Course focus is on aerated static pile composting. Ned Foley, owner of Two Particular Acres, recently instituted aerated static pile composting to process agricultural residuals with commercial food waste. Foley worked with Peter Moon of O2 Compost in Washington State to design the aerated system. Moon will be a featured course instructor. “This class will explain the differences between the systems, how you figure fan size and piping, what kind of environmental protection and permitting you need and features an in depth visit to Ned’s farm in lower Montgomery County (bring your boots!),” says Amy Zuckett, PROP’s Education Director. To register, visit or call (814) 742-7777.
Kansas City, Missouri
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has determined that state residents kept 44 percent of their trash out of landfills during 2006. Residuals were recycled, reused, composted and used to generate energy. Diverting waste benefits the environment by cutting down on greenhouse gases and reducing contaminants that can leak into the ground. Forty-four percent percentage in 2006 is down from the 46 percent diverted in 2005 – attributable to the storm debris increase after severe storms during 2006. Estimated trash generated statewide increased from 12.1 million tons/year to 12.5 million tons in 2006. Calculates DNR: 1.2 tons of residuals were landfilled per person – up slightly from 1.13 tons per person in 2005. “In the past 16 years, DNR and its 20 solid waste management districts have helped to create and sustain recycling services across the state,” says DNR Director Doyle Childers. “Comprehensive waste prevention, public education efforts, material recovery facilities and composting operations all play a part in improving the way Missourians manage their solid waste.”
Salem, Oregon
Oregon’s recycling rate for rigid plastic containers rose to 27.8 percent in 2006, from 25.3 percent in 2005. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) expects the level of aggregate recycling for rigid plastic containers will remain above 25 percent for 2008. Higher prices paid for recycled plastics is one reason stated for this increased recycling rate, as it has led to more collection, especially of items such as plastics buckets, flower pots and trays. Another reason is expansion of curbside programs to use larger collection containers (and permitting a wider range of items placed in them). For instance, the Oregon DEQ expects the city of Portland to introduce larger collection carts on wheels this year, and allow oversized items such as buckets and flower pots. Also, the Oregon Bottle Bill was amended in 2007 to add water bottles, effective January 1, 2009. This places a five-cent deposit on nonrefillable water bottles, and is predicted to substantially increase water bottle recycling. The deposit is already in place for other beverage containers in Oregon, including carbonated soft drinks and beer.
San Jose, California
A l5-year plan to grow the local economy was organized by Mayor Chuck Reed around three elements – clean tech innovation, sustainability and green mobility. Says Reed: “In 15 years, we can build a better future for our children, residents and the world.” Goals include: Reduce per capita energy by 50 percent; Build or retrofit 50 million sq ft of green buildings; Recycle 100 percent of wastewater (100 million gallons per day); Run public fleet vehicles on alternative fuels; Create 100 miles of interconnected trails. “With a focus on creating clean tech jobs, we will help solve the climate crisis while creating a new economic base for our region,” sums up Reed.

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