October 22, 2008 | General


BioCycle October 2008, Vol. 49, No. 10, p. 14

Madison, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund has administered $7.3 million in grants and loans this year for renewable energy projects, part of the state’s initiative to have state-based businesses generate 25 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity and 25 percent of its fuel from renewable sources by 2025. Recent grant recipients include American Science and Technology Corp., which received $150,000 to purchase equipment to manufacture fuel and chemicals from wood waste and switchgrass, and Grand Meadow Energies, which received $265,000 to make biodiesel from algae and permeate, a cheese-making byproduct. “In Wisconsin, we not only eat a lot of cheese, make a lot of cheese, wear cheese on our heads, but we will be the first state to power vehicles with cheese,” says Governor Jim Doyle in the Wausau Daily Herald.
Stevenson, Washington
At the Annual Conference of the Northwest Biosolids Management Association, held this year at the Skamania Lodge in early September, participants engaged in a wide variety of sessions designed to keep biosolids professionals up to date on important research issues. Sessions the first morning focused on studies related to dioxins, PBDEs and other contaminants of concern, as well as provided a rundown of various contentious fights taking place around the country in the name of biosolids. In the afternoon, this group of professionals didn’t focus on challenges with biosolids but instead they practiced bragging about it.
Led by Team TAGRO from the City of Tacoma, Washington, participants were grouped around tables with mysterious buckets in the center. Each bucket held a different type of biosolids product, from straight Class A dewatered cake, to various composts, blends and dried pellets. Each group was asked to open their bucket and assess the product. They were given information about available nitrogen content, and told it was a Class A Exceptional Quality product. Beyond that, all they had to go on was what they could see and feel (and smell).
The groups were tasked with devising a marketing plan to sell their products. Prompts included: What are its positive attributes? How would you frame these in a way that would help it sell? Who is the target market? What are the needs of your market? And come up with a catchy slogan! After several minutes for brainstorming , a representative from each group presented the results. From “Mare-Mulch” (biosolids combined with horse-litter) to a grass-covered golf cart (with Tiger Woods as a sponsor), the ideas flowed and people got excited about talking to the public about biosolids. For more information, visit
Stowe, Vermont
The Appletree Learning Center, a childcare facility and preschool in Stowe, has a new playground that uses mesh socks filled with compost as part of the design. The Play System uses GroSoxx, manufactured by Filtrexx International, which are filled with compost. The socks used in the active playing area are seeded with grasses. Other GroSoxx are planted with flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs – providing a contained garden built into the playground. The GroSoxx can be positioned in different ways to create mazes for children to walk through, build mounds and embankments for climbing and sliding, and to line playground pathways.
Appletree’s triangularly-shaped, 60-by 80-foot playground was installed in June 2008 and opened for children to use in August. “Teachers at the Appletree Learning Center are finding that the children are using the Play System much more than they predicted,” says Heather Burt, Director of Design for Filtrexx Play Systems. “The children are playing longer and more intensively because there is more they can do with it than on a traditional playground structure.”
A second system was installed in July 2008 at the Franconia Children’s Center in Franconia, New Hampshire. Both installations used compost from Agresource in New Hampshire. Burt notes that the children helped plant the compost socks with seeds, and that curriculum is being developed to teach them about plants and herbs through the playground. Eight other preschools in Vermont have expressed interest in the systems. For more information, visit
Casper, Wyoming
Terra Firma Organics’ food scrap and paperboard composting program was recognized as the state’s “New Recycling Program of the Year” at the Wyoming Solid Waste and Recycling Association’s conference in Casper in August. “The program shows that composting is a very important part of reducing waste in the municipal solid waste stream,” says Recycling Task Force co-chair Beth Andress.
Dane Buk, owner of Terra Firma Organics in Jackson, Wyoming explains that Terra Firma Organics has the support of a grant from 1% for the Tetons to cover part of the costs of its pilot program to collect organic material from hotels, restaurants, a supermarket and a school. The grant covered the cost of the containers, training, compost management, the extra collection and tipping fees of $50/ton.
“We were already under contract to Teton County to operate its yard waste, manure and wood recycling program at the closed landfill, so expansion into food waste was a natural fit,” says Buk. “This is a pilot project, and now that we have completed the first phase, we are expanding it to more generators, and we will be testing a rotary drum compost vessel as we set our sights on expanding the program to as many of the 250 Teton County restaurants that decide to participate.” (For more background information, see “Organics Recovery Expands in Wyoming’s Tetons,” BioCycle February 2008.)
The pilot project started in December 2007 and is a major step toward the County’s goal of diverting organic waste from disposal in out-of-county landfills where other MSW is currently disposed. A Phase Two grant award to Terra Firma Organics was recently announced by 1% for the Tetons, and will subsidize the cost of an in-vessel composting system, as well as a special collection vehicle.
Herkimer, New York
Herkimer County Community College (HCCC), in partnership with the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, purchased and installed a three-cubic yard Earth Tub composter in July. By winter, when more students dine in the cafeteria, the college expects to process around 150 lbs/day of preconsumer food waste. Postconsumer food waste will be included after the student body is educated to avoid placing contaminants in the compostables container. The resulting compost will be used for campus landscaping. HCCC recently eliminated the use of 1,250 styrofoam trays/week, replacing them with biodegradable paper products.
Olympia, Washington
Seattle Children’s Hospital received the 2008 Governor’s Award for Sustainable Practices, Washington State’s top environmental award of this kind. The hospital was the first to compost food waste, and now diverts about 1,400 pounds/week. The 250-bed hospital also saves over 7 million gallons of water annually as a result of retrofitting and updating equipment, and uses integrated pest control management for its grounds. In 2007, the Children’s Hospital shared its clean, green hospital efforts with more than 80 organizations around the country through a teleconference organized by Hospitals for a Healthier Environment. For more information about Seattle Children’s Hospital, visit
San Jose, California
The City of San Jose, – in the heart of the Silicon Valley – made a commitment to be totally green by 2022. In a recent update on the city’s Green Vision by Mayor Chuck Reed, he noted that “San Jose is on track to become the world’s center of innovation in clean, green technologies.” Signs of that progress include a Memorandum of Understanding with Tesla Motors, manufacturer of America’s only zero-emission electric vehicle, to locate its headquarters and manufacturing facility in San Jose, bringing 1,000 clean tech manufacturing, research and development jobs to the city.
San Jose’s Green Vision outlines 10 far-reaching goals that address energy consumption, water use, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. These include creating 25,000 Clean Tech jobs as the World Center of Clean Tech Innovation; Reducing per capita energy use by 50 percent; Receive 100 percent of its electrical power from clean renewable sources; Build or retrofit 50 million square feet of green buildings; Divert 100 percent of the waste from landfill and convert waste to energy; Recycle or beneficially reuse 100 percent of its wastewater (100 million gallons per day); and Ensure that 100 percent of public fleet vehicles run on alternative fuels.
In terms of waste diversion, San Jose was recycling 62 percent of its garbage citywide a year ago. Recent improvements to recycling at apartments and condominiums have “resulted in the highest performing program in the United States and created more than 50 new jobs in San Jose,” notes a city official. In addition, in 2008 new waste reduction efforts were implemented at all city facilities and operations, including the airport, convention center, City Hall, libraries, all city parks, and special events like the Comcast Jazz festival. As a result, San Jose is exceeding 75 percent of waste diverted from the landfill, far higher than any municipal program in California. The Environmental Services Department is also evaluating several potential waste-to-energy technologies including creating methane from organics and food waste, deriving fuels from sewage sludge and gasification. For more information on San Jose’s Green Vision, visit
Eugene, Oregon
The University of Oregon (UO) Campus Recycling Program started a food waste diversion program in 1999 when a student worked with Rexius, a local forest products company, to determine what serviceware was compostable. Since then, composting at campus events has been a staple, with an average of 80 percent diversion at campus events, conferences and meetings.
Starting in April 2008, a pilot project was instituted on campus at all student union food service locations to collect paper and biodegradable food ware, including cups, plates, napkins and bowls and send it to Rexius for composting. All student union food service vendors are diverting prep food waste and coffee grounds. For the pilot, over 200 pounds/day of coffee grounds have been collected. Housing areas donate excess food to a local food bank. The program was scheduled to be implemented on a permanent basis this fall.
Raleigh, North Carolina
The 39 attendees at the North Carolina Composting Council’s (NCCC) biannual Commercial Composting and Compost Use course in early September in Raleigh came from as far away as La Calera, Chile, Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois, as well as a number of East Coast states. In addition to geographic diversity, the composting background of the attendees varied widely, from the multiyear experience of senior management at Land-And-Lakes Company and WeCare Organics, to individuals just beginning to enter the composting industry. The Carolina Composting school included a mix of classroom lecture, problem-solving exercises (e.g. calculating composting pad size, determining the fertilizer value of a compost), field exercises (e.g. measuring windrows, calculating bulk densities of composts and feedstocks) and touring the working composting operation at Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF facility at Novozymes, N.A. in Franklinton, North Carolina. The NCCC will offer the five-day course again in the fall of 2010 and has plans for several shorter, more specialized courses in 2009. For course dates and times, or for more information on the NCCC, visit its website at
New Haven, Connecticut
Starting this past summer, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut began diverting food waste from three dining halls in a pilot project, reports the New Haven Register. Global Environmental Services uses a vacuum truck to collect food waste from the university, and hauls it to New Milford Farms, a composting operation owned by Garick Corp. Yale plans on extending the program campus-wide to capture an estimated 2 tons/day of food waste. For more information on Global Environmental Services, see “Refuse And Recycling Hauler Takes On Food Waste,” BioCycle September 2008, Regional Roundup section. For more information on Yale’s recycling and sustainability efforts, visit
Staten Island, New York
Rolan Udugampola of Rossville, New York grew an Italian squash over five-feet long using compost from New York City’s Sanitation Department. The leaf and Christmas tree compost is given away to residents twice a year for free. “Because gardening is my hobby, this saves me money and it makes me feel good to use something that’s made from waste,” says Udugampola, who also grows tomatoes, peppers and Sri Lankan greens in his garden. The giant squash, he notes, was taller than his wife, who is 4-feet, 9-inches.

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