January 25, 2009 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle January 2009, Vol. 50, No. 1, p. 13

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center (RMC) launched its new Products and Commodities GIS Tool in August 2008. The online tool allows users to search for facilities geographically and by material type, including (but not limited to) biosolids, brush, food waste, grass, leaves, manure, pallets, sawdust and wood waste. By using Google® Maps, the tool allows users to zoom in on a facility location, as well as provides contact info and driving directions.
Searches are currently limited to organic materials, but other commodities and recycled materials will be added in the future. Development of the tool was supported in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). For more information about the uses of GIS (Geographic Information Systems), see “GIS Tool Maps Biomass Sources,” by Matt Kures on page 29 of this issue. RMC’s Products and Commodities GIS Tool can be accessed at
Somerton, Arizona
A 34-mile trip to the closest transfer station, combined with the high cost of fuel, led residents and elected officials in Somerton to rethink how they manage their trash. The community enlisted the help of the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), which began collecting data on recent costs of handling Somerton’s wastes. Next, using demographic information and standard estimates of MSW characteristics, RCAC calculated household, commercial and public works waste contributions in pounds per category. Two categories that the analysis highlighted were yard and tree trimmings, and street cleaning waste. RCAC suggested Somerton purchase a chipper for the green waste and use the chips for playgrounds, bedding mulch and topfill around trees. A screen was purchased to separate dirt and rocks from the street sweepings, reducing the need to buy these materials to make street repairs. These steps eliminated approximately 580 tons annually from the waste stream, saving Somerton about $35,000/year.
Next steps in the MSW management plan are to build a regional MSW composting facility to service several communities. The feasibility study is completed, says Cliff O’Neill, Somerton’s city manager, and the conceptual design is progressing. The facility will be located at the site of the town’s old sewage lagoons. Other components of the plan include a gasification/oxidation process for residuals from MSW composting, a biodiesel plant that will utilize greases, oils and solids collected at the headworks of the wastewater treatment facility, and waste oils and greases from restaurants and food processing facilities. (Fred Warren and Victoire Chochezi of the Arizona RCAC contributed the information for this news item.)
Boulder, Colorado
“We shattered all previous recycling records, drastically cut our sports events environmental footprint, and set the stage for continuous improvement toward a completely sustainable process,” says Dave Newport, University of Colorado (CU) Boulder Environmental Center Director. CU-Boulder collected more than 40 tons of recyclables and compostables from football games in 2008, a 199 percent increase over the previous year. About 80 percent of all materials generated inside the stadium during most home games were diverted from landfills through reuse, recycling or composting. Some of the compost generated by the program will be used on the CU-Boulder campus during landscaping operations.
New in 2008, more than 300 gallons of fry oil were collected from the stadium, which will be used as biodiesel for CU-Boulder’s bus fleet. The program also replaced public area trashcans throughout the stadium with recycling and composting containers, diverting an additional 14 tons of compostable food and biodegradable material from the landfill in 2008. “The efforts of our staff, students, all the fans and our vendor, Centerplate, was nothing less than miraculous,” observes Newport. He continues that the 2009 football season will build on this success, and get closer to its zero waste goal.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
The Solid Waste Resource Renewal Group (SWRRG) at the Rutgers, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has just finished its first year of county-based food waste recycling forums. Each event in the series featured basic information for food waste generators such as restaurants, schools and hospitals, on implementing a recycling system. Presentations covered how to conduct a waste audit; locations of existing and planned composting and other processing operations; on-site treatment equipment; current haulers for food waste; when and why it is important to switch to biodegradable plastic; and generators learned about opportunities for sustainable businesses, through the USEPA’s WasteWise program and through a new organization called Food and Organics Recycling for New Jersey (FOR NJ).
Waste generators who have attended the forums are already finding benefits. “I went to SWRRG’s second Forum in Mercer County,” says Charles Link, Director of Engineering at Hyatt Regency Princeton. “After attending, I had a waste audit completed in order to plan my food waste recycling. Through it, I discovered ways to make all of the hotel’s recycling better and to save the property money while reducing our carbon footprint.” Link has the Hyatt hotel on track to become the first generator to achieve certification under the new FOR NJ program. The hotel has completed four of five steps: the waste audit, a purchasing audit for biodegradable plastic liners, signing up for WasteWise and FOR NJ membership and signing up with a hauler to have food waste hauled away. A forum is planned on January 30, 2009, to complete the final requirement: creating a wasteshed. “A wasteshed involves putting together a cost-effective, compact hauling route so that everyone gets the lowest prices for food waste recycling,” explains Priscilla Hayes, director of SWRRG and an organizer of FOR NJ. “Hyatt Regency Princeton is creating a wasteshed by educating its neighbors about the benefits of food waste recycling with the goal of getting them to sign onto a route with the hotel.” To register for the forum, contact Hayes at 732-932-9155, ext. 233 or email at
Stephensville, Texas
Environmental Power Corporation announced in late December thatrepairs and upgrades to its Huckabay Ridge anaerobic digestion facility in Stephenville have been completed and production of pipeline-quality renewable natural gas (RNG®) has been resumed. The company is delivering RNG to Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) under a long-term purchase agreement that will run through December 2018. PG&E will purchase up to 8,000 MMBtu of RNG daily from Environmental Power facilities.
Gas from Huckabay Ridge, which processes manure and off-farm substrates such as fats, oils and grease, will be delivered to PG&E in California. Energy production at Huckabay Ridge is ramping up and is expected to reach targeted production levels in January 2009. Repairs to Huckabay Ridge included upgrades to the gas conditioning equipment that converts biogas generated in the facility’s eight anaerobic digestion tanks to pipeline-quality methane. The conditioning equipment principally removes carbon dioxide, water vapor and sulfur compounds to upgrade the biogas to pipeline-grade standards.
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Kiser Environmental Consulting conducted a yearlong investigation of how much municipal solid waste (MSW) a residential household in Harrisonburg could divert from disposal through maximum reduction, reuse and recycling. Results show an 82 percent recycling rate (86 percent diversion when reduction and reuse are included), compared to the national average of 32.5 percent (U.S. EPA, 2006).
During the 12-month period, the household generated more than 4,800 pounds (2.4 tons) of material. Of this total, 13 percent was reduced, 8 percent was reused, 64 percent was recycled and 15 percent was sent to WTE and landfill. Among the 3,118 pounds of materials recycled, leaves comprised 42 percent, brush/yard waste represented 24 percent and food/garden waste added 11 percent.
Methods used to determine these findings included: Segregating and weighing generated materials; Mulching grass clippings into the ground, with associated weight estimated; Donating reusable materials to charity or reusing them for construction material; Curbside recycling of bottles and cans through contract hauler; Transporting brush, yard debris and leaves to the nearby county compost operation; Composting food and garden waste in a backyard bin; and, Delivering noncurbside recyclable items (office paper, household batteries, spent ink cartridges, etc.) to local recycling operations.
More study findings are available relating to per capita waste generation rates and waste management expenses, along with the complete listing of disposal items, and additional conclusions and recommendations for duplicating these results across the country. Contact Jonathan Kiser at 703-431-1106, or at
Grove City, Ohio
The Green Energy Center developed by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) received a “Project of the Year” award from the U.S. EPA. The honor was presented at the U.S. EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) annual conference in January 2009. The Green Energy Center converts gas from SWACO’s Franklin County Landfill into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicle fuel as well as energy for a 250 kW microturbine that provides electricity for the facility. (See “Landfill Gas To Fleet Fuel In Ohio,” October 2008 for details on the project.)
The Center is a public-private partnership with FirmGreen Inc. “The Center shows American ingenuity is alive and well and that we can grow regional energy hubs to help meet our country’s future needs,” says SWACO Executive Director Ron Mills. Adds Rachel Goldstein, EPA LMOP Program Manager: “Forward thinking and dedication are key ingredients to successful alternative energy projects like the Green Energy Center. It is a win for the environment and the local community.”
Phase One of the Center will produce enough CNG annually to replace almost 250,000 gallons of gasoline. The Center will reduce carbon emissions at an amount equal to more than 15,000 barrels of oil or 630,000 gallons of gasoline per year. The CNG is being used initially to fuel SWACO vehicles. The Authority is working with local governments, schools districts and businesses to establish a CNG consortium to tap its supply.
Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington (UW) is the pilot site for a compostable cup specifically developed for soft drinks – and more specifically, for Coca-Cola fountain drinks. The cup was created by International Paper in cooperation with UW and Cedar Grove Composting.
A traditional paper soft drink cup is coated with a polyethylene lining to make it liquid resistant. International Paper’s Ecotainer cup has a “plastic” coating made from plants, making the cup compostable.
The university requested the cup in early 2007 to comply with the City of Seattle’s requirement that all packaging must be compostable by 2010. The UW Housing and Food Services already is using compostable plates, utensils and hot drink cups.
Los Angeles, California
The City of Los Angeles has adopted a Producer Responsibility resolution in partnership with the California Product Stewardship Council and the Green Cities California initiative. “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an integral part of my RENEW LA plan to reduce to nearly zero the amount of waste LA sends to landfills,” says Councilman Greig Smith. RENEW LA – Recovering Energy, Natural Resources and Economic Benefit from Waste for Los Angeles – was adopted as City policy in 2006. “I am pleased to join the California Product Stewardship Council’s efforts to promote EPR principles and advocate for products that use less packaging, minimize waste, reduce toxicity, and are easy to recycle or remanufacture,” he adds.
With an EPR program, producers assume responsibility – financial and physical – for the proper management of their products throughout their life cycle. The resolution urges the California legislature to pass framework EPR legislation that shifts waste management costs from local government and gives producers incentives to redesign products to make them less toxic and easier to reuse and recycle, and directs the City of Los Angeles to expand its Environmentally Preferred Purchasing program.
For more details on Los Angeles, as well as other California cities and counties that have adopted resolutions, go to the California Product Stewardship Council’s website,

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