BioCycle Magazine

Regional Roundup


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The National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, D.C. started diverting its pre and postconsumer food waste to composting in September. Working with EnviRelation, an organics hauler, NPC has achieved a 75 percent volume reduction in waste, filling one instead of four 16-cubic foot containers per day with trash. This is expected to equal two tons of food waste composted each month.

Founded in 1908, and considered one of the world’s leading professional organizations for journalists, NPC hosts more than 2,000 events/year, with a total of more than 250,000 guests. The facility has a fine dining restaurant, and bar and grill. Since 2001, NPC has been able to reduce its annual electrical load by 22 percent using load reduction strategies. Also, since fall 2007, it has purchased 100 percent wind energy. For more info, visit

The City of San Jose won the 2009 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its Zero Waste Events Program. “We were one of the first cities to make it easy for residents to recycle at home, and now we’ve developed creative programs for recycling and composting at major community events,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. In 2008, a concerted effort was made to green the city’s five largest events, bringing together the City, event promoters, recycling haulers and youth workers from the San Jose Conservation Corps. Zero waste goals were adopted. It established back-end sorting of event garbage, use of compostable service ware, commercial organic waste collection and processing, eco-stations and developed an array of web resources for event organizers. An article in the August issue of BioCycle “Insider’s Guide To Compostables Collection At Events,” by Janice Sitton, San Jose’s Zero Waste Event Specialist, provides details and insights on event greening.

Data on total discards and total materials diverted for 2008 and 2009 events shows a significant increase over the two-year period. For example, total diversion from the annual Jazz Festival was 93 percent in 2008 (out of 14 tons generated) and 97 percent in 2009 (out of 20 tons generated); the Italian Family Festa achieved 77 percent diversion in 2008 (generating 4.8 tons of discards) and 97 percent diversion in 2009 (generating 5.3 tons).

Geoff Roach, Executive Director of the San Jose Jazz Festival, notes that “besides the obvious benefits of reducing the environmental impact of the festival, the event represents an incredible opportunity to show 100,000 people that they can continue to reduce their own impact when they return home and long after the festival is over.” More information on the city’s Zero Waste Events programs is available at: events-venues.

The City of Norman opened a new 10-acre yard trimmings composting facility last month, replacing the former 5-acre site. The active composting area of the new site is six acres, whereas the old composting pad was one acre. Officials say that the larger site will improve several aspects of the process. It will provide ample room for customer pick up and drop off of materials, allowing for better vehicle safety. Also, with a larger working area, the old problem of stockpiling materials will be significantly reduced, thereby reducing the potential for generating odors. Construction of the new facility cost about $1.8 million. The former location will be converted into a sanitation container maintenance facility.

Norman was the first city in Oklahoma to initiate separate collection of yard waste and start a composting operation, which originally opened in 1990. The city’s facility reduces the amount of waste going to landfill by over 10 percent/year, processing an average of 18 million pounds/year of organics.

Desert Hills, one of the largest dairies in northern Nevada, is moving forward with an anaerobic digestion facility for processing effluent from its herd. Desert Hills Dairy Biodigester, LLC (DHDB), has begun plans and acquired land to construct the first biodigester in Nevada. The newly created company to manage the project, has chosen AD technology developed by GHD, Inc. in Wisconsin. The installation is expected to produce enough electricity from burning the biogas to power both the digester and the dairy. Digestate from the process will be separated for liquid fertilizer and mulch by-product. “At a time when the Nevada dairy industry has been severely damaged by the recession, income from a biodigester can make the difference between economic profitability and failure,” says Dr. Michael Ganz, CEO of DHDB.

Bowdoin College’s annual lobster bake this year diverted 100 percent of its waste to composting. The event, held on campus located in Brunswick, Maine in early September, was attended by over 1,800 guests who were served 1,256 lobsters, 78 gallons of Maine fish chowder and 1,280 ears of corn on the cob. To achieve the diversion, compostable products were used, lobster bibs and condiment packages were eliminated and bulk beverages were served to avoid bottles. Dining staff monitored each waste station to make sure that residuals went in the proper bins, and sorted through food waste to remove contaminants such as rubber bands on lobster claws. At the end of the event, a 10 cubic yard load of organics was hauled to Ricker Farm in Lisbon, Maine for composting. Ricker is one of several farms that grows food for the school.

Hansen’s Tree Service is opening two new green waste recycling facilities to meet the growing demand for its mulch products. This brings the number of the O’Fallon-based company’s green waste sites up to eight: three in the St. Louis area and five in the Springfield area. Hansen’s sells mulch in 13 stores in St. Louis and southwest Missouri, and sales through the end of June 2009 already exceeded $1 million. “We are in the process of expanding our green waste recycling facilities in Missouri in order to process enough wood and green waste to create our mulch,” says Jeff Hansen, president and founder of the company. “Our mulch and compost are popular because they are eco-friendly—it reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and weed killers and conserves water. As tree and lawn care professionals, we intend to provide a product that enhances tree and plant growth as naturally as possible.” For more on Hansen’s Tree Service, see “Making ‘Mountains’ of Mulch and Compost,” BioCycle May 2008.

In August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 3990 into law, legislation that will help put more locally grown food on Illinois tables. It was designed to increase demand for locally grown food by building a reliable market for it at state agencies and facilities that receive significant state support. Key elements of the law include: Formation of the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, to build an active local farm and food market; Establishment of local food procurement goals for state agencies to purchase 20 percent of their food locally by 2020, and state-funded institutions (such as schools) have a goal of 10 percent by 2020; and, Creation of a local food purchase preference for state-owned food buyers that allows them to pay a premium of up to 10 percent above the lowest bid in order to purchase locally grown foods.

“The fact that 96 percent of the fruits, vegetables, and meats that Illinoisans eat are produced in other states or countries is an astonishing imbalance and presents us with an enormous opportunity,” said Senator Jacqueline Collins, who cosponsored the bill. “This legislation is an important step forward that will enable farmers in the state to produce and sell fresh food.”

Swarthmore College and jointly received a $16,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for manufacturing and using two solar-powered rotary compost units. The compost drums are giant stainless steel barrels on wheels, which typically must be cranked by hand to allow oxygen to enter the system. With the grant money, they will be outfitted with solar panels, using electricity generated to turn the drums. Using both units, the college hopes to compost nearly 24 cubic yards of campus food waste annually. Currently, the school collects preconsumer vegetative waste and uses compostable products in some dining areas. The organics bins are taken several times a week to the Swarthmore Municipal composting facility. The new solar-powered drums will expedite the composting process, and allow for food waste to be conveniently composted on campus.

The InterContinental San Francisco hotel, which opened in February 2008, has realized dramatic savings due to recycling and waste diversion. The new hotel budgeted $264,000/year for waste removal fees, based on zero recycling, and announced that after implementing a recycling program it was able to save over $120,000/year in waste removal fees. The hotel teamed up with the City and Recology, its hauler, to coordinate recycling and composting initiatives. The hotel also added two- and three-stream Metro recycling receptacles to public spaces. “They are in every public area and look terrific,” says Harry Hobbs, Director of Engineering at the InterContinental. “We have five units that get constant use and we even do composting in them.”

A county-owned cocomposting facility to process 20,000 wet tons/year of biosolids and 20,000 tons/year of ground yard trimmings is expected to be operational by March 2010 in Lee County, Florida. “The facility will consist of six 16,000-square-foot single span open-sided fabric structures,” says Keith Howard, Deputy Director of the county’s solid waste division. “We decided to cover the windrows because we get six months of rain and six months of sun and dry winds.” Currently, biosolids from the county’s wastewater utility division are mixed with ash from its incinerator and landfilled. Most yard debris generated in Lee County is mulched and land applied. The cocomposting facility is being built at the county’s landfill. A Backhus windrow turner will be used. “We also are purchasing a hose reel assembling so we can add moisture during turning,” says Howard. “The type of composting process we are doing makes sense for our situation. It is cost-effective. We are doing this for about $2.5 to $3 million.” Initially, the compost will be used for landfill closure. “There are 81 acres of developed landfill and the county is ‘topsoil poor,’” he adds.

Four Pennsylvania companies received $1.2 million in financial assistance to increase their use of recycled materials in the production of finished goods. The reimbursement grants are given to businesses or nonprofits that manufacture a product or reuse an existing product with recyclable material from Pennsylvania. Team Ten, LLC in Blair County received $500,000 to add dispersion and bleaching systems to its recycled fiber operations, enabling it to process and use an additional 14,880 tons/year of fiber rejects and junk mail. The Chambersburg Waste Paper Co., Inc. in Franklin County was given $82,240 to purchase a high capacity fiber shredder to make animal bedding from recycled paper and corrugated. The two other grantees will increase their use of postconsumer recycled plastic.

Turner Construction Company recently installed a green roof for the United States Postal Service (USPS) on its Morgan Mail Processing Facility, located on West 28th Street in New York City. The 2.5-acre green roof includes a variety of plants and grasses, as well as 14 benches for visitors, which are made from Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber. Growing media for the roof was provided by Green Roof Solutions, following FLL guidelines, and included 70 percent light weight aggregate and 30 percent compost. The green roof will reduce storm water runoff and save USPS an estimated $30,000/year in heating and cooling costs, helping to achieve their goal of reducing energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015.

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