March 19, 2008 | General


BioCycle March 2008, Vol. 49, No. 3, p. 18

Niagara Region, Canada
Study Assesses Area’s Organic Resource Management
Regional Municipality of Niagara’s Waste Management Services Division recently released a report assessing the “true costs” of composting, weighed against landfilling and energy from waste (EFW) technologies. Conducted by CM Consulting of Toronto, Canada, and presented to the region’s Waste Management Planning Steering Committee on January 22, 2008, the study utilizes a system of accounting that has historically been neglected in resource management feasibility studies. The formula used to quantify findings was: True Cost = Net Cost – Environmental Cost Benefit.
Comparing technologies, the research revealed that “… the full cost or ‘true cost’ of composting in the Region is 60 percent to 86 percent lower than both the lowest and highest alternative options, which are landfilled with electricity generation, and EFW respectively.” The study’s summary notes that: “Composting results in the best economic value to a community and results in the least pollution; Every effort should be put towards source separation for composting before any ‘disposal’ technologies are considered; and, Those responsible for collection and/or management of waste streams with organics, should collect organics separately for composting rather than disposal.”
Assessing the net impact on human health and the environment associated with the resource management alternatives studied, researchers utilized models for determining net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and pollutants from collection, carbon sequestration and processing. GHG emissions and more than 900 pollutants were aggregated into environmental impact categories such as climate change, human health, eutrophication and ecosystem toxicity.
A calculator – developed by Dr. Jeffrey Morris of Sound Resource Management in Bellingham & Olympia, Washington – was used to assign monetary values for each pollutant as “a method to evaluate the various tradeoffs within each pollution category for an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison of the waste management options.” Anticipating criticism, lead researcher of CM Consulting, Clarissa Morawski, included a sensitivity analysis in the study to compensate for changes in key assumptions. “The landfill and EFW technologies are actually treated very fairly,” she says. “It would be very difficult to contest the findings.”
The report’s methodologies and findings will be discussed in greater detail in an upcoming issue of BioCycle. The full study is currently available on the Niagara Region’s website:
Baltimore, Maryland
Sixth Annual Green Roofs For Sustainable Communities Conference
Organized by Green Roofs For Healthy Cities (GRHC), and cohosted by the City of Baltimore, the Sixth Annual Greening Roofs for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards and Trade Show with be held in Baltimore, Maryland from April 30 to May 2, 2008. The sessions will focus on four main topic areas: Policies and Programs to Support Green Roofs; Green Roof Design and Implementation; Research and Technical Papers on Green Roof Performance; and Networking & Information Forums on Current Green Roof Topics. The conference is intended for architects, landscape architects, roofing professionals, green roof researchers, horticulturalists, urban planners, facility managers and developers, policy makers and anyone with an interest in green roofs and green buildings. For more information on the conference, and other GRHC activities, visit
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Solid Waste Group Continues To Promote And Educate About Organics Recycling In 2008
The Solid Waste Resource Renewal Group (SWRRG) works to develop a sustainable organics recycling industry in New Jersey. SWRRG cooperated with Rutgers to complete the first comprehensive study of biomass conversion to fuel/energy, available online at, and will follow up with research and policy recommendations. SWRRG’s free educational forums on the economic and environmental benefits of recycling food waste began in October 2007 in Sayerville, New Jersey, and will continue throughout 2008 and early 2009 in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. The sessions cover a variety of topics, from ‘How To’ tips for waste audits, to composting success stories like Ag Choice and Terra Cycle. Contact Priscilla Hayes, Executive Director of SWRRG:
Escondido, California
Buddhist Monastery Practices Sustainability
Just outside of Escondido, California, the Deer Park Monastery practices Buddhism and sustainability. The most recent development is the installation of a 66-kilowatt solar panel system to supply most of the electricity needed to power the lights and air conditioning in the monastery’s buildings, located on 440 acres. The project, which cost an estimated $700,000, was funded in part by a state grant of $180,000. The payback time ranges from 6 to 13 years. The Monastary already has other sustainability projects, including three older diesel Mercedes converted to run on 100 percent vegetable oil and an Earth Tub composting bin. The initial plan for solar panels was 78 kilowatts, but updating lighting fixtures (with efficient CFLs) allowed them to scale back the project.
Burlington, Vermont
Intervale Center’s Composting Operation Announces Closure
In late February, the Intervale Center announced closure of its composting operation, Intervale Compost Products (ICP), at its current location. Steps leading to the closure will unfold over the next few months. In a press release, Charles Lief, Treasurer and Member of the Intervale Center Board of Directors, says “The Intervale Center can no longer afford to pay toward an uncertain and increasingly expensive permitting process for Intervale Compost. Hiring civil engineers, wetland scientists, hydrologists and other technical experts, as well as legal counsel – along with the site work required by the Agency of Natural Resources – cost the Intervale Center about $200,000 in 2007.” And expenses leading to permitting are far from finished for ICP, continues Lief, despite preliminary test results that it does not contribute to groundwater pollution, as had been suggested by regulatory agencies. ICP was founded in 1987, and has been operating at its current location for 15 years.
Orlando, Florida
Composting Pilots At Disney World’s Reedy Creek
Reedy Creek, the waste treatment utility at Disney World, and Compost USA are conducting a pilot project composting food waste and biosolids, using modified static aerobic piles (developed by Harvest Quest International). The pilot has produced Class AA finished compost in under six weeks, with negligible odors, leading to further tests on a larger scale, reports the Florida Organics Recycling Center of Excellence (FORCE) winter newsletter. FORCE is a partnership between the Sumter County Department of Environmental Protection and public and private researchers. Another pilot project at Reedy Creek studying composting of food and yard waste was to be completed in February 2008. The research project evaluated operations, environmental parameters and compost quality. Results of the study will be made public on the FORCE website in the spring of 2008 (, and will be used to make recommendations to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection regarding composting of food residuals and yard trimmings.
Syracuse, New York
Paperboard Company Produces 2,000 Tons Of Recycled Linerboard And Corrugated Medium
Solvay Paperboard can produce approximately 2,000 tons of recycled linerboard and recycled corrugated medium per day, with a net yield loss of about 10 percent. To feed its machinery, the company purchases about 2,200 tons per day (tpd) of recovered fiber, primarily old corrugated containers. Solvay Paperboard – founded in 1994, in suburban Syracuse by Southern Container to vertically integrate its box plant system – is designed to reduce the company’s dependence on outside suppliers of linerboard. As reported in Recycling Today, its first paper machine can produce 550 tpd of recycled linerboard per day, and a second machine can generate 740 tpd. A third machine is now producing 700 tpd of corrugated medium.
The firm further reduces landfilling by shipping fiber rejects to Syracuse Fiber, where material is converted into animal bedding. It also has installed a water recycling system where water is eventually discharged to the city’s sewage system, removing as many of the particulates and starches as possible. It is a dual biologic anaerobic and aerobic system. The anaerobic system converts the material into biocast, which is 75 percent methane, shipped to Trigen Syracuse Energy to be used to make energy.
State College, Pennsylvania
Sustainable Agriculture Group Attracts Record Number
The 17th annual Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) “Farming for the Future” conference attracted almost 2,000 people this year. The conference draws more and more attendees every year from all over the U.S., with an increasingly diverse group of young people and urban growers. This year’s theme, “Ready to Grow: Sharing the Sustainable Story,” encompassed an impressive array of workshops, speeches and exhibitors. Workshops ranged from an all-day practicum about on-farm biodiesel production to year-round growing in unheated greenhouses, from how to write successful SARE grants (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) to the new Philly Orchard project, reclaiming vacant lots for urban food production. The sessions included questions about soil fertility and best methods, linking technical knowledge to personal stories. For more information, visit
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Fourth Canadian Waste Resource Symposium
The 4th Canadian Waste Resource Symposium will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from April 14 to 16, 2008. There will be technical sessions on topics such as clear bag programs for garbage, product stewardship, composting clean wallboard, biodegradable/compostable bags, maximizing diversion and minimizing costs, innovative containers for public spaces and more. In addition, attendees will learn about how Nova Scotia came to be a leader in recycling and composting. For information and to register, visit

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