May 17, 2010 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle May 2010, Vol. 51, No. 5, p. 14

Poultney, Vermont
Green Mountain College (GMC) in Poultney started up its campus biomass plant on Earth Day, April 22. The small environmentally focused liberal arts college – which serves a resident undergraduate population of about 850 students as well as another 150 online graduate students – built the $5.8 million plant to provide heat and power to the campus to help meet its goal of becoming the country’s first carbon-neutral college. College president Paul Fonteyn cited the project as a cornerstone of meeting that goal.
The 400 HP combined heat and power (CHP) plant will burn an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 tons of locally sourced wood chips annually to heat buildings across the 155-acre campus. The project is expected to provide approximately 20 percent (400,000 kW) of the college’s power – much of which already comes from green energy sources – and to reduce reliance on fossil fuel by 85 percent (from 230,000 gallons to 40,700 gallons annually). According to a GMC press release, related greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced from 3,420 metric tons to 546 metric tons. Expected payback on the project is 18 years. The idea to build the plant was generated by students through a Student Campus Greening Fund proposal. Students were concerned that the GMC heating plant burned No. 6 fuel oil, a residual or heavy fuel oil that’s particularly harsh on the environment. They drafted a proposal demonstrating how the biomass plant would drastically reduce carbon emissions while achieving significant energy cost savings. Five years later, that proposal has become a reality. The plant was financed in part through the Student Campus Greening Fund toward which all students contribute $30 per attending semester.
Hershey, Pennsylvania
A one-day workshop focusing on adding organic substrates such as food scraps, grease trap waste and food processing streams, to wastewater treatment plant anaerobic digesters will be held August 11, 2010 in Hershey. Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association, BioCycle, Effluential Synergies, LLC and the Northeast Biosolids and Residuals Association, sessions will cover the benefits of substrate addition; substrate selection and analyses; sourcing and transporting feedstocks; managing WWTP digesters when adding substrates; and biogas utilization. In the afternoon, there will be a tour of the Derry Township Municipal Authority’s substrate processing and receiving facilities, as well as the digester and biogas utilization equipment. Registration details are available at
Schagticoke, New York
A composting system utilizing Isobar heat-transfer technology from Agrilab Technologies, LLP, is under construction in Schagticoke, about 20 miles northeast of Albany. Sean and Sandy Quinn, owners and operators of KA Sunset View Farm, LLC, were awarded cost-share funding from the New York Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) as well as a grant and loan from the USDA Rural Development’s Renewable Energy Assistance Program (REAP). KA Sunset View Farm has a small dairy herd and custom boards 2,400 calves and heifers for area dairy farms.
The composting system is designed to handle 600 to 800 tons/week of manure from bedded pack pens and dewatered separated manure solids. Manure and bedding are composted using negative aeration; heated vapor is drawn into ductwork and run over the Isobar array to transfer thermal energy to a hot water reservoir; 400,000 Btu/hour will be captured to assist in heating water used in washing calf hutches, mixing feed and other farm applications. The system is targeted for start-up in June 2010. The project team includes Cornell Waste Management Institute, WASTE NOT Solutions, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell University.
Sacramento, California
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) will be the lead agency for preparation of a statewide Program Environmental Impact Report (Program EIR) for anaerobic digester facilities for treatment of the organic fraction of MSW in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act. A Notice of Preparation (NOP) about the Program EIR was issued at the end of April for a 30-day public comment period. CalRecycle is preparing the EIR to assess the potential environmental effects that may result from the development of these types of AD facilities. The results will inform future policy considerations and provide background information on AD technologies, potential impacts and mitigation measures. The Program EIR can be used by public agencies, e.g., for site-specific environmental documentation, when considering approval of AD facilities within their jurisdictions. More information is available on the CalRecycle website (www.Cal
Seattle, Washington
Seattle Public Utilities and Cedar Grove Composting launched a special campaign to thank city of Seattle residents for increasing the amount of food scraps they recycle by almost 47 percent in 2009. During Compost Days, April 15-May 30, citizens can receive two free bags of Cedar Grove compost and free Green Kitchen Kits that include a food waste kitchen collector, compostable liner bags, a food scraper and more. “On any given week, more than half of Seattle subscribers are putting their food and yard waste carts out for collection,” said Tim Croll, Seattle’s Solid Waste Director. In 2009, this equated to more than 89,000 tons of organics – including almost 26,000 tons of food waste collected at the curb.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Jersey’s first-ever Investment Forum focusing exclusively on the rapidly growing markets that convert food waste and other organic waste into soil, fertilizer and energy products will be held June 16, 2010 at Rutgers University’s Cook Campus in New Brunswick. The forum is the creation of Rutgers’s Solid Waste Resource Renewal Group (SWRRG) and will illustrate how investing in the rapidly growing food waste recycling industry presents an advantageous opportunity that offers return on investment at both the front end via tipping fees and on the back end via product sales. Andrew Kessler of Turning Earth LLC – an investment banker turned organics recycler – is the keynote speaker. BioCycle Editor Nora Goldstein will join a panel entitled “Why Food Waste and Why The Northeast?” For registration and sponsorship information, visit, or email Priscilla Hayes at
Albany, New York
The Reuse Alliance – a national nonprofit established to increase public awareness of reusing materials and connecting and supporting members to do so – recently announced the launch of two materials exchanges: New York Biomass Trader and New York C&D Material Trader. These statewide marketplaces, managed by the Reuse Alliance, allow the public to source and/or market materials once typically considered waste. NY Biomass Trader is set up to divert organic waste while the C&D Trader helps redirect used, surplus or salvaged building materials into reuse. Newcomers create an account and post listings for materials they want to dispose of (“available”) or need as an input (“wanted”). There is no charge, and materials can be sold, bartered or donated.
Users can also set themselves up to receive customizable emails detailing new materials and can access reports specifying the greenhouse gases avoided by using this service. A website moderator ensures the accuracy of listings and can assist users with their accounts; the exchanges are managed by those seeking and providing the materials in order to streamline the process. “We will use NY C&D Material Trader to help market the inventory at our building materials reuse centers and increase foot traffic and sales,” says Joel Frank of Rebuilders Source.
San Mateo, California
RethinkWaste – a joint power authority comprised of several municipalities and a sanitation district in San Mateo County – has teamed up with Browning Ferris Industries California (BFI) and Recology Grover Environmental Products to facilitate processing of up to 70,000 tons/year of plant materials and food scraps into compost. New residential and commercial collection programs are set to begin January 1, 2011. BFI will process the collected materials at its Newby Island facility in San Jose, and Recology Grover will process them at its facility south of Tracy. The four-year agreements have a two-year maximum extension clause and a combined total annual revenue value of $3.24 million in the first year. The decision to have two processors was to ensure that capacity would be available to process the large quantities of material anticipated with the new services.
New York, New York
A community research project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is underway to determine the extent of risk from heavy metal contaminants in urban soils used for urban farming and gardening projects. The research team includes Cornell University scientists and Extension educators, the New York State Department of Health, Green Thumb (a local community gardening organization) and various other partners. Core project activities include assessing soil and vegetable contamination levels and potential human exposures (although humans will not be directly tested as part of this study), evaluating the effects of management strategies in mitigating health risks, translating research findings into effective public health policy, identifying future research needs to pinpoint exposures and risks for urban gardeners, and evaluating the success of education and outreach programs. Analysis will include raised-bed soil tests from 700 randomly selected locations across New York City.
Murray McBride, PhD, a principal investigator on the project and director of Cornell’s Waste Management Institute in the Department of Crop & Soil Sciences, says compost could play a key role in remediating contaminated garden soils. “What we’re testing, both through research in our greenhouse studies and through field studies, is adding different levels of compost and seeing what the effect is on toxic metals in crops,” McBride says. The research involves compost applications at fairly high levels – up to 10 percent and even higher – he adds. The study is also looking at use of mulches to protect leafy ground crops and other vegetables with edible portions that touch the ground from coming into direct contact with contaminated soil.
After the compost has been applied, McBride says, researchers will be analyzing both the soils and plants grown in them over time in order to observe any chemical changes. While NIH-funded research is typically of the applied nature, McBride says he would like to use the project as a jumping off point to explore the benefits of compost as a remedial agent on a more fundamental level. This would include looking at specific mechanisms that bind lead by soil organic matter and its relative bioavailability (absorption capacity) to soil, water, plants and humans. “It’s nice to know that it works, but it’s also important to know why it works,” McBride says. “Maybe different types of composts work differently.”
Dana Point, California
The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis Monarch Beach resorts in Dana Point, along with the Salt Creek Grille, have begun source separating food waste for collection and composting. According to an article in the Environmental Leader, the hotels are part of a larger program in the resort community to divert at least 50 percent of waste from landfills as required by state law. In addition, trash disposal fees in Orange County, where Dana Point is located, are scheduled to increase by 36 percent.
The Ritz and St. Regis will use 20 and 18 collection bins, respectively, for their food waste; the Grille will have eight bins. Food waste will be collected up to three times weekly. Total tonnage diverted will be posted monthly at the city’s website,, under Solid Waste & Recycling. Anticipated food waste diversion is up to 20 tons/ week. Dana Point received a one-year, $400,000 grant from the Orange County Waste and Recycling Department for the food waste collection program.

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