July 14, 2008 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle July 2008, Vol. 49, No. 7, p. 16

Ottawa, Ontario
The AgriEnergy Producers’ Association of Ontario (APAO) was formed in the spring of 2007 as an Associate Member Organization under the auspices of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. APAO’s main objectives are to facilitate the exchange of information and sharing of tools among individual members while continually promoting the development of the agrienergy sector in Ontario, which includes on-farm operations equipped with renewable energy projects to produce fuel and/or electricity to be used either in farm activities, or to be sold to the public grid. Projects in the province highlighted on the association’s website include Kirchmeir Farms in Isadore, which is in the early stages of developing a 1,500 m3 anaerobic digester (AD) to process manure and municipal organic wastes, including some feedstocks from the City of Ottawa; a Pendleton farmer, Philippe Henrard, who is building a small-scale corn ethanol plant, with the stillage to be processed in an AD (the biogas would be used to generate heat and electricity to be recaptured in ethanol production); and two new digesters using the Genesys Biogas technology – a 500 m3 unit at Pinehedge Farms and a 1,000 m3 digester at Terryland Farms – which will be featured in an upcoming issue of BioCycle. More information on these projects and association activities can be found at
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ran for 17 days (June 6 to 22) in 2008, with 364 shows and exhibits and attracted about a half-million attendees. With a grant from the Colcom Foundation, this year the Arts Festival hired Restorative Events, a local company working to “green” special events, to coordinate large-scale composting and recycling. “As an open-air event in the middle of a downtown metropolitan area, maintenance of contamination levels at a 17-day festival is an incredible challenge,” says Ryan Walsh, founder of Restorative Events. First, he met with food vendors, requiring that products given out be either compostable or recyclable. “There was no large distributor of compostable products, so we partnered with a few stores to get the quantities we needed,” notes Walsh. Second, paid employees and volunteers were educated about the process, and placed in shifts at 35 compostable bins in 5 waste receptacle zones, lined with ASTM-certified compostable bags. Signage was spread throughout the event, designed with both informational text and color-coded images for easy identification.
The results were very positive, says Walsh, with roughly 83 percent diverted from the landfill. By volume, half of the materials were compostables, and half recyclables. The food scraps and compostable products were sent to AgRecycle, Inc., which operates a large-scale composting facility near Pittsburgh that is permitted to receive these types of materials. “Our contamination was minimal, with no loads rejected from AgRecycle,” says Walsh. “We opened up some bags to check for contamination, and also received feedback from AgRecycle, helping us to improve as we went along.”
To track levels of participation and interest in the composting effort, Restorative Events gave employees and volunteers clip boards and click counters. “Using a click counter, we estimate that 30,000 to 40,000 people actually interacted with our staff at the waste stations,” explains Walsh. “Of those people, about 70 percent received help or assistance as to which item went in which bin; about 25 percent stuck around for more education, asking about the composting process, etc.; and about 5 percent decided that they would throw everything in the trash.” The waste diversion initiative at the 2008 festival was the first year of a tentative three-year program, where Restorative Events hopes to use the lessons learned to establish criteria for all public events that want to go green. The second year will focus on energy consumption, and the third will work out specifics for a given festival.
Los Angles, California
The City of Los Angeles is launching a food waste collection pilot in September 2008 for 8,700 families in the North Central and South Los Angeles neighborhoods. It is estimated that the households could recycle 8 to 20 pounds/week of food scraps. Each home will be given a two-gallon covered kitchen pail, to be emptied in their curbside green waste cart. Collected yard trimmings and food will be transported to the city-owned transfer station downtown, before being hauled to a composting facility south of Bakersfield, California. The one-year pilot will cost about $140,000 and will be covered by existing trash fees. If the program were implemented citywide, it would cost about $13 million. The major barrier to taking that step would be finding enough composting capacity in the area.
St. Paul, Minnesota
The U.S. Women’s Open Golf Tournament successfully integrated recycling and composting into its event this year, which hosted 20,000 to 30,000 people per day. Held at the 140-acre Interlachen Country Club, 300 recycling, composting and trash bins were spread out over the course. Containers for compostables were stationed at hand washing stations and in food prep areas. More than 280 volunteers were recruited and organized by the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) to help with the effort. “Nearly 70 percent of the total yards of material collected went to recycling and composting; this is an extremely high rate of waste recovery,” says Maggie Mattacola, RAM’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
Gooding, Idaho
The Dean Foods Company, based in Dallas, Texas, will develop an anaerobic digester at Big Sky Dairy, near Gooding. The digester will capture manure from the farm’s 4,700 cows, reducing odors and methane emissions. Biogas from the digester is expected to generate more than one megawatt per hour of electricity that will be sold to the local grid – enough to power approximately 650 homes. To be operational by early 2009, the project will be owned and operated by a partnership between Dean Foods and AgPower Partners, LLC. “Managing greenhouse gas emissions and animal waste is one of the dairy industry’s biggest challenges,” says Gregg Engles, Chairman and CEO of Dean Foods. “We are proud to have partnered with AgPower Partners to bring this sustainable dairy industry solution to the market.” AgPower is comprised of Andgar Corporation, which will manufacture and install the Big Sky Dairy digester, GHD, Inc., the designer and patent holder for the digester system, and Cenergy USA, Inc., the project developer.
In addition to generating electricity from the methane, the digester will generate carbon and renewable energy credits. The digestate by-product will be used as either an organic soil amendment or as animal bedding. Notes Russel Visser of Big Sky Dairy: “We will be better able to control our waste and reduce our associated costs while improving the environment.”
Sacramento, California
California Assembly Bill 2640, Compostable Organics Management, would help expand the state’s composting infrastructure by providing grants for facility operators to overcome regulatory barriers, explains Californians Against Waste (CAW), which supports the legislation. Introduced by Assembly Member Jared Huffman, the money for these grants would be generated through a fee on the use of green materials as landfill cover (known as ADC or alternative daily cover), a practice that has significant environmental impacts. “This bill is intended to promote the highest and best use of organic materials in California,” writes CAW. “It passed out of Senate Environmental Quality committee on June 23 with a 4-3 vote. Previously, the bill passed off the Assembly Floor May 28, passed out of Assembly Appropriations May 22, and passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 14th with a 5-3 vote.” For more details on AB 2640’s progress, contact Scott Smithline at CAW (916-443-5422) or go to
Burlington, Vermont
Intervale Compost Products (ICP) continues to be in turmoil. According to the Burlington Free Press, the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), which had agreed to operate the facility for May and June while permitting issues were resolved, decided to discontinue its financial and staff support as of July 1. CSWD was interested in taking over operations of the facility for two years, until a more suitable site was found, but is now worried about the unknown costs of regulations during those two years. “We’re not getting transparency from the Agency of Natural Resources or the Division of Historic Preservation, and what we do see appears to make the operation financially unfeasible,” says Tom Moreau, CSWD General Manager.
The Intervale Center, a nonprofit that runs ICP, wants to settle environmental violations and fines before turning over the facility. Intervale Center’s lawyer says that a decision whether or not to close this month will be based on the likelihood of a satisfactory agreement with the state that would allow the facility to remain open for the next two years. BioCycle will continue to run updates on the status of ICP.
Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers grants to public colleges and universities for waste diversion programs. Projects must increase the volume of recyclables collected, organics composted and/or reduce the amount of waste generated. The project should serve as a positive economic and environmental example for other Ohio schools to duplicate, and should have the potential to evolve into a permanent service or program without additional funding. Past examples include $50,000 to Ohio University in 2007 for a solar array on the composting building, and $50,000 to Bowling Green State University for equipment to convert used cooking oil into fuel. A 50 percent financial match for the grant amount is requested, with a maximum grant of $50,000. For more information, contact Antwan Booker, College and University Liaison:
Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation (CITF) makes grants to Chicago area filmmakers working on projects that can produce social change. Recently, CITF awarded Chicago filmmaker Peter Grosz a grant to work with Seven Generations Ahead, a Chicago area nonprofit, to produce an educational video on creating Zero Waste schools. The video will feature the Holmes Zero Waste Ambassadors from Holmes Elementary School in Oak Park, Illinois, a group of 4th grade students who conducted a waste audit at their school. The students are working with the Holmes Zero Waste Team and Seven Generations Ahead to implement a strategic plan at their school. Key strategies to be portrayed in the video will include food scraps collection and composting using an in-vessel composter, reusable cafeteria plate ware and an industrial dishwasher, zero waste lunches, and strategies to eliminate paper and other waste at their source. For more information, contact Seven Generations Ahead at 708-660-9909 or at

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