December 22, 2008 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle December 2008, Vol. 49, No. 12, p. 16

Rock Island, Illinois
In November, Augustana College, in Rock Island, Illinois, teamed up with nearby farmer Jim Johansen, whose 10,000 red worms will compost the campus’s food waste. The resulting compost will be used on Johansen’s organic vegetable operation. The school expects to divert 40 tons/year of food waste, sending everything except meat scraps to the farm. The campus dining hall recently switched to compostable products, with cutlery made from potato starch, clear plastics made from corn, and clamshells from sugar cane fiber, all of which are composted at the farm.
Augustana College had already worked with Johansen on other sustainability projects. Since March, Johansen has collected 130 gallons/week of waste cooking oil, and converted it into biodiesel for use in his farm equipment. The school purchases organic vegetables from Johansen throughout the year, and also features other local food. It’s partnership with Johansen includes work-study experiences.
Raleigh, North Carolina
The new Green Square Complex in Raleigh is a two-block sustainable development project that includes an office building for the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) and an expansion to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. To make room, the demolition of two existing buildings was required. To help obtain points for LEED certification on the new structure, extensive efforts were made to recycle as much as possible during demolition. Contractors successfully recycled and salvaged 98.8 percent, or 4,502.5 out of 4,556.4 tons.
Based on landfill tip fees of $33/ton, the disposal cost of these materials would have been about $150,000, plus hauling fees of $40,000. When considering revenue from recycling some materials (e.g., metal), and lower tip fees for processing others (e.g., wood), the site generated a net revenue of $169,000 (hauling cost subtracted). The demolition project therefore had a total cost savings of $319,000 due to its recovery and recycling efforts.
The LEED rating system awards two points if a demolition project recycles or salvages at least 75 percent of non-hazardous waste. An additional point is available as an innovation credit if a project can reach 95 percent diversion.
Whistler, British Columbia
A new $13.77 million composting facility in the town of Whistler is expected to keep 6,000 metric tons/year of biosolids and compostable organics out of the waste stream. The facility, scheduled to begin operations in early December, will use a Wright in-vessel composting system purchased from Carney’s Waste Systems in Squamish. That facility closed in 2006. It will process a mixture of food waste, wood waste and biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant. The community was previously sending its waste to the Rabanco facility, in Washington state.
Two local garbage compacter sites will be open for residents to drop off household organics, including vegetables, meat, bones, baked goods and yard trimmings. Municipal staff is working with Rotary groups and an ice cream shop to provide residents with reused ice cream pails for kitchen organics collection. The composting facility will move Whistler closer to its goal of being a zero waste community with a diversion rate of 70 percent. For more information about the new facility, go to:
State College, Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) announced its 2009 conference agenda, with almost 80 workshops, including several on composting – Using Organic Nutrient Sources & Interpreting Soil and Compost Analyses; Working Hogs: Renovating Land & Pastures, Composting and Farrowing; and, On-Farm Composting of Food and Yard Waste: A How-To.
The conference features local food grown by over 50 PASA member farmers, and has 13 preconference tracks. It will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College, Pennsylvania, February 5-7, 2009. For more information, visit
Trenton, New Jersey
Municipalities and counties in New Jersey received $8 million in recycling grants this year, a record high for the state, doubling last year’s total. This increase is a result of the January 2008 Recycling Enhancement Act, which boosted money available to local governments by placing a $3/ton surcharge on trash taken to solid waste disposal facilities. Municipal governments receive 60 percent of the money generated by the Act to help them enhance outreach and compliance efforts. The other 40 percent goes to county solid waste management and household collection programs, promotional efforts and recycling research.
“This new law provides the funding mechanism that allows us once again to set our sights on recycling a majority of our municipal waste,” says Lisa Jackson, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, in a press release. “When it comes to recycling, businesses are building the foundation for a green-collar economy.” In 2006, New Jersey’s municipal solid waste recycling rate was 36 percent, an increase of 2 percent from 2005. The state’s overall solid waste recycling rate was 55 percent in 2006.
San Louis Obispo, California
California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) removed its on-campus food waste composting and manure composting programs at the end of October, despite student protest. The covered windrows were located on the Cal Poly Organic Farm, in an area that drained to a stream. David Wehner, Dean of the College of Agriculture, said that the university would face $50,000 in fines for bacteria run off if it didn’t comply with EPA regulations, which is the equivalent of a full-time lecturer’s salary. He also notes that the situation is temporary, and the composting program will be sited elsewhere at some point.
Removing the composting program will negatively impact other campus activities. At least 50 students are involved in composting through the farm and the Zero Waste Club. And campus dining halls will be putting food waste back in with the trash.
San Jose, California
San Jose launched a Zero Waste Strategic Plan and a new Zero Waste website in November. The Zero Waste plan includes: Redesign of the commercial program to capture more recyclables and compostables, improving service and rate equity for businesses. The residential programs will have new contracts to provide opportunities for implementing incentives to capture more materials and compost food waste. In the facilities and conversion technology program, maximizing sorting will allow the city to capture food and other hard to recycle materials. Policy and legislation changes on the state and local levels were identified to change the material flows and create incentives for diversion. To learn more about the plan, visit the new website:
Poultney, Vermont
Paul Fonteyn, President of Green Mountain College (GMC) in Poultney, recently announced the construction of a biomass cogeneration plant as part of the school’s plan for carbon neutrality. The $3.6 million project is expected to begin generating electricity and heat by January 2010, replacing the 260,000 gallons/year of fuel oil currently used – and 71 percent of the campus greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to the new plant, which will burn approximately 4,900 tons/year of wood chips, is expected to save the college over $250,000/year. “Besides reducing our dependency on the global oil supply and limiting exposure to the volatile fossil fuel market, this new plant could pay for itself within 15 years,” says Fonteyn. The wood chips will be purchased from local sources that harvest sustainably, promoting the area’s biomass economy.
A steam turbine generator on the wood boiler will produce an estimated 400,000 MW of electricity, meeting 20 percent of the college’s need. Combined with its participation in the Cow Power program offered by Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), the college will fulfill about 70 percent of campus electricity needs. Any surplus electric generation will be sold back to CVPS. For more on the GMC, visit An article in this issue (p. 43) describes similar initiatives at the University of Minnesota-Morris and Middlebury College.
Liberty, North Carolina
Coble Sandrock, Inc. began recovering materials like clean wood waste and cardboard from mixed loads of construction waste at its C&D landfill in Liberty starting in May. Several employees manually sort cardboard, metal, brick, block and clean wood out of mixed loads for recycling. Cardboard and metal are sold to recycling markets. Clean wood is processed in a tub grinder, screened and sold as boiler fuel. Five new employees were hired as a result of the recycling effort.
“I knew recycling would save us some landfill space, but I really didn’t appreciate just how much space we would save,” says Kent Coble, co-owner of the landfill. “Landfill space is at a premium now with increasing permitting costs. It just makes good business sense to pull out what recyclables you can now and save space in the landfill for later.” The landfill compactor is used less now too, with significant diesel fuel savings. The facility is operating as a commingled recycling facility under a six-month probationary certification from Orange County issued in August.
Los Angeles, California
An independent, third party audit of the City of Los Angeles Biosolids Environmental Management System (EMS) confirmed that the program has “exceeded environmental performance and regulatory compliance, followed best management practices and provided meaningful opportunities for public input.” The city’s biosolids management program was first certified in September 2003, and then recertified in 2004 and 2006. The EMS certification is part of the National Biosolids Partnership (, which developed the program to improve the quality of biosolids management nationwide and promote public acceptance of use and disposal practices. Audit results and the final report are posted on the city’s biosolids website:
Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii’s Governor Linda Lingle announced plans to create a network of electric car recharging stations throughout the islands, powered entirely by renewable energy. The state is working with Better Place, a Palo Alto, California-based company that will build the car recharging stations and provide recharged batteries for electric cars. Better Place aims to have a “zero carbon footprint,” purchasing renewable energy from Hawaii’s abundant sources of wind, solar, geothermal and wave power. For instance, the company plans to recharge batteries with power from Hawaii’s wind farms at night, when there is excess power due to low nighttime energy needs.
Better Place charging stations are schedule to be open for the mass market by 2011, with between 50,000 and 100,000 charging spots constructed across the state by 2012. These charging spots will be in parking lots, downtown streets, and neighborhoods. Hawaii is an ideal location for the first statewide rollout, according to Better Place, for several reasons beyond having available renewable resources. The island chain is a contained environment, with few vehicles coming in and out, allowing the network to be more contained, compared to a multi-state network on the mainland. Also, cars and buses consume one-third of the state’s imported oil, at elevated island prices. Finally, over five million tourists from around the world visit Hawaii each year, and would take their experiences home to educate others about the system.
The Nissan-Renault auto alliance has agreed to make electric cars that would be recharged at the stations. According to Governor Lingle, the state does not expect to spend any money to facilitate the network, although it might offer tax breaks and other incentives at first to encourage people to buy electric vehicles. Other locations have also announced partnership with Better Place to establish charging stations, including the San Francisco Bay area, Israel, Denmark and Australia. For more information about Better Place and its initiatives, go to
Victorville, California
The Mojave Desert and Joint Powers Authority (JPA) announced that it hired a consulting engineering firm to help it determine the maximum feasible landfill disposal reduction strategies. “The Victor Valley Materials Recovery Facility opened in 1995,” says JPA Administrator John Davis. “It is time to look at expansion while applying new technology to increase recycling, expand composting, and apply appropriate energy recovery.” The JPA contracted with Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. to do the evaluation and strategy. RRT Design & Construction, Inc. will be assisting. “The overall objective of our efforts will be to present alternatives that can achieve a 50 to 75 percent increased diversion level for recycling and composting, and to understand reasonable alternatives for converting the remainder as a feedstock for refuse-derived fuel and/or energy recovery approaches,” said Harvey Gershman, GBB President.
Storrs, Connecticut
At an August 2007 Board of Trustees meeting the University of Connecticut (UConn) approved a budget of $600,000 for a composting facility, which had been proposed off and on since 1992. According to Richard Miller, director of the school’s Office of Environmental Policy, the funds will cover design and construction costs, but not equipment, material and upkeep. The project proposal was reportedly taken more seriously in 2005, when over 400 students signed a petition to the university’s president, resulting in the formation of a task force and Compost Facility Advisory Committee.
Based on 12 environmental and operational guidelines, the advisory committee selected a site, although it has not been finalized. A primary factor in choosing a site was ensuring there was an ample residential buffer. Plans for the facility include a 10,000-square foot fabric structure, and an additional 10,000-square foot concrete curing pad. Visit to learn more.

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