May 20, 2008 | General


BioCycle May 2008, Vol. 49, No. 5, p. 16

Washington D.C.
The House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol recently launched a new recycling system that targets food scraps from the dining facilities. Bins with biodegradable bags are used to collect separated organics and compostable cutlery at the Longworth House Office Building’s cafeteria, which are then sent down the hall to be dewatered in a pulper. Removing the water reduces shipping costs. Serving about 240,000 meals/month, the House produced 11 tons of dewatered material in February 2008.
The diversion program is serviced by Chesterfield Farms in Crofton, Maryland, which opened its composting facility a few years ago. Owned and operated by the Boehm family, Chesterfield Farms combines the material with food waste from supermarkets (such as Whole Foods), yard trimmings and horse stall bedding, and composts in windrows on a 5.5-acre paved pad. The finished compost is then screened and sold. Further details on food scraps diversion at the Capitol – along with a feature article on Chesterfield Farms – will be in an upcoming issue of BioCycle.
Atlanta, Georgia
The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) conducted a food scraps composting pilot in 1993 that has since grown into nine full-scale operations servicing 19 GDC correctional facilities. In FY 2007, about 5,000 tons of food scraps were composted with about 18,000 tons of yard trimmings and wood waste from surrounding communities. Community Environmental Management, Inc. (CEM) works with GDC to set up and manage the composting sites. “We put the prisons in partnership with the local communities to enable them to comply with the state ban on landfilling yard waste,” says Boyd Leake of CEM. “In one case, a site is actually operated by the City of Valdasta, and the prison brings the food waste there.”
The sites are regulated under the State of Georgia’s permit by rule requirements. Yard trimmings and food scraps are composted in windrows. Luck-Now mixers are used to weigh and combine the two streams. The mixer discharges directly into the windrows. Wildcat turners pulled by tractors with a creeper gear are used to turn the piles. A number of the sites have wood chippers. “When combined with their recycling programs, correctional facilities are seeing a 60 percent average reduction in disposal,” adds Leake. “Total savings in FY 2007 were $955,480.”
Wilmington, Delaware
A coalition of 14 independent organizations and entities from Wilmington’s historic Southbridge community completed a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) – a legally binding agreement between the coalition and Peninsula Compost Company, a private corporation seeking to build a 20,000 square-foot source separated organics composting facility on a 25-acre site in the community. The Southbridge Coalition for a Sustainable Community, conceived by City Council Member Hanifa G. N. Shabazz, includes civic and neighborhood organizations, churches, a medical center, trade unions, housing authorities and community development corporations. The $20 million facility, to be constructed by EDiS Company in Wilmington, will use the GORE™ Cover System to compost clean separated food waste and yard trimmings. Approximately 30 people will be employed during construction; once operational, the facility estimates it will employ 12 people.
Elements of the CBA that Peninsula Compost has agreed to include: Using local Delaware contractors and skilled and unskilled workers; Improve the aesthetics of the existing neighborhood; Establish and maintain, at its expense, a 24-hour community hotline where residents can report any complaint or nuisance, such as prohibited truck traffic or offensive odors; Prohibit trucks traveling to and from the facility from passing through Southbridge and other South Wilmington communities, except for specified truck routes; Plant vegetative and other natural buffer and visual screenings adjacent to the facility prior to facility start-up; and Provide up to 1,000 tons of high quality compost free of charge to coalition organizations and community residents for residential or community use.
San Carlos, California
The Shoreway Recycling Center in San Carlos is constructing a new 70,200 sq. ft. material recovery facility that will handle 20,000 additional tons of recyclables annually. A 14,780 sq. ft. expansion of the current 62,000 sq. ft. transfer station will allow for an increase of organic materials collection by 30,000 tons/year. Green building features will include photovoltaic panels to generate renewable energy and rainwater capture and reuse. “The new Shoreway Environmental Center will be a national model for innovative recycling and material handling operations and for sustainable building practices,” says a Shoreway executive. The facility will offer expanded and more convenient recycling, organics and waste collection services for local residents and businesses. The expansion was planned to handle the expected annual increase of more than 50,000 tons of recyclables and organics from new franchised collection programs to begin by January 1, 2011.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
The Composting Council of Canada started off International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) on the East Coast, at the Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) Botanical Garden in St. John’s. When the Botanical Garden was started in 1971, the plot of land was bedrock and contaminated with lead. Rebuilding the soil was step one, and composting was a necessary part of the reclamation. That practice has continued to this day. The Garden collects leaves from St. John’s for its composting piles, using the finished product for topdressing on raised garden beds. “As a nonprofit organization, we could not possibly afford to buy all the soil, especially here, where Newfoundland is called the rock because we don’t have a lot of good soil to grow plants in,” says Anne Madden, the garden’s education coordinator, in a recent Telegram article.
Newfoundland’s strong wind, which thins and dries out topsoil, is another reason compost is especially useful, since it helps with water retention and is a source of organic matter. “One of the reasons that we’ve always focused on compost week here at the garden is that we were created by compost,” continues Madden. “People ask, ‘Does it work?’ Come visit MUN Botanical Garden – yes it does.”
Fergus Falls, Minnesota
A new Agricultural Utilization Research study shows the feasibility of using anaerobic digestion to make methane and fertilizer from thin stillage, dissolved corn solids left over from ethanol production. A demonstration conducted at the Fergus Falls municipal wastewater treatment plant digester tested whole and thin stillage. Ethanol plants could potentially become energy independent if all energy in thin stillage could be captured in the form of methane. Anaerobic digestion could add $10 million to the bottom line of a 50-million gallon ethanol plant, estimates David Rein of a wastewater engineering firm based in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Anaerobic digestion is currently used in many ag-processing industries and for municipal wastewater treatment. Sugar beet processors digest wastewater and use the methane to run their dryers. Some ethanol plants now use small digesters (called methanators) to clean up their wastewater, but the ethanol industry is not now using digestion to generate power.
Stillage is the slurry of corn solids and water after corn starch has been fermented. Ethanol plants separate whole stillage into distiller’s grains and thin stillage. These ethanol coproducts contain significant amounts of energy in the form of biogas. In a full-scale demonstration at the wastewater treatment plant in Fergus Falls, whole stillage was added to the city’s digester with great success. The digester generated enough biogas to satisfy the plant’s fuel needs.
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
High quality carbon offsets provider NativeEnergy helped facilitate installation of a farm methane project at Brubaker Farms in Mount Joy, with grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Investing in construction of renewable energy projects is a powerful step in the fight against global warming that more people can support through carbon offsets,” says Tom Boucher, NativeEnergy president. This family of dairy farmers has taken environmental stewardship to the next level while stimulating the local economy. With its new anaerobic digester, the 1,500 acre family farm produces enough energy to power and heat most of its operations.
NativeEnergy leverages market demand for carbon offsets, offering third party verified renewable energy credits. Through its approach of bringing upfront payments for estimated future carbon offsets, the company enables its clients to help directly finance the construction of renewable energy projects.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island seeks approval as a “green hotel” from Green Lodging Michigan after launching a variety of new initiatives – a water-based air conditioning system, using the island’s state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility, switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, composting food and green waste, limiting paper use by reducing printed literature, and offering guests the option of less frequent linen exchanges. Coffee grounds and grass clippings are composted on site, whereas the food and green waste are sent to the island’s municipal composting operation. “Anything you see on the grounds is dirt that we made ourselves,” says Mary Stancik, Superintendent of Grounds at the Grand Hotel, in a recent press release. Finished compost is used on the hotel’s signature flowerbeds, which include annual plantings of 25,000 tulip bulbs and 15,000 daffodil bulbs.

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