Monthly Archives: February 2013

Compost Buyer Beware!


Let the Compost Buyer BEWARE!

This story certainly does not help the “composting” movement but more importantly it slaps us consumers in the face, shame on us for believing composting is a perfect process.  How wrong we were.

Why do we trust the compost farmer?  Because we can’t imagine they would be doing anything to harm the integrity of composting or soil the image of the compost we are spreading in our gardens.  But when you think about it and read this article it may ruin it for all compost lovers.  I mean shame on us for believing that 100% of the waste received is perfect and not contaminated and if it were contaminated it would the compost farmer’s responsibility to further sort the waste before it is treated, cured and bagged for resale.  Is it possible for food waste to make it from point-of-generation to a bag of sellable compost material without hitting a few bumps along the way?

Let’s start with the sorting. Waste separating and sorting is the key to success, but easy tasks to fail.

Contamination Possibility #1: Food waste contamination happens at the very beginning of the process.  A straw, plastic, paper, or cardboard get mixed in with the tote for “food waste only.”   
Contamination Possibility #2
:  The tote is left in a public area outside for the hauler to pick up.  A passerby happens on the garbage can and tosses in garbage.
Contamination Possibility #3
:  The waste hauler arrives in a “food waste only” truck?  The truck has never been used for anything else and can’t possibly be contaminated itself?  
Contamination Possibility #4
:  The load arrives at the compost facility and is contaminated but what to do with it now?  Dump it and deal with it later, mix it in, or sort it into a pile to be trucked again to a landfill?

So many possible events leading to contamination, and then the trust-worthy consumer orders the compost for his land as happened to Mr. Feitlinger…

An organic farm owner from Symmes Township, Ohio, is suing a gardening store for selling him organic compost that state officials said contained solid waste.

Mark Feitlinger, of M&T Farm, bought 490 yards of what he thought was bulk organic compost from Marvin’s Organic Gardens in Lebanon, Ohio. Feitlinger tilled a large amount of the compost into a field, then built a greenhouse over the area to grow organic garlic year round, only to find out that the material he purchased was neither organic nor compost but had solid waste in it.

After visiting Marvin Duren’s store and composting facility, the Ohio EPA accused Duren of open dumping and maintaining a solid waste facility without a permit. They were also able to confirm that the compost was mixed with solid waste.

To continue to grow organically on the impacted area, Feitlinger will have to dismantle the greenhouse, remove the solid waste and refrain from farming the area for three years.

Feitlinger will lose four to five years of organic garlic farming in a location in which the solid waste from Duren’s composting facility was co-mingled with the Feitlinger farm’s topsoil. Feitlinger is seeking punitive damages, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees from the lawsuit.

Can you blame him?


Choose Wisely


The Eco-Safe Digester Provides a Faster Throughput and Smaller Footprint than Similar Products. 

As alternative technologies continue to emerge as a solution to landfill diversion and composting it is important to do your research before choosing a solution.

BioHitech America provides a sustainable, long term, cost effective food waste disposal solution with substantial operational and environmental benefits.

The Eco-Safe Digester can reduce up to 2400 pounds of food waste every day and transform it into nutrient-rich grey water that can safely be disposed of to the sanitary sewer system which is then transported to the capable wastewater treatment plant where it is further digested.  There is no residual food waste to store or transport.  It is an ecologically-friendly solution for processing food waste at its source.

Customer references and diversity, volume of long-term paid installations as well as a worldwide customer service organization are key drivers to choosing the best solution.  Machine footprint will also be important as well as data storage capabilities, and product availability.  Choose wisely.

Composting is Complicated


Safeway stores along the east coast ship everything from flowers to coffee grinds and spoiled vegetables to their Maryland return center, which then must be transported at least another 100 miles to be recycled into composting.  An exercise that takes place in excesses of 5 times a week. Jack Jacobs, Director of Distribution of Safeway’s Eastern Division, said he prefers he did not have to ship it so far away.

Although composting can work for large institutions ranging from hospitals to universities as well as deliver diversion results from landfills, it has its challenges. Composting is complicated.  Food scraps are heavy making them expensive to transport. Compost collectors have a limited number of places to deposit their hauls. Many communities have contracts with waste incineration sites, making it hard to develop organic recycling sites. But perhaps the biggest challenge is the push back from the waste haulers.  Major trash industry operators such as Waste Management have fought government requirements to divert waste because they operate the landfills and they get paid according to how much trash they put there.

Thanks to customer demand and environmentally minded city leaders whom have adopted “zero-waste” pledges, those major trash industry operators are slowly investing in organic recycling.

Is composting merely a “reactionary” concept and perhaps not the “best” solution?  It’s complicated.

Read the entire story here:

Composting Stinks


Part II of the compost problem in North Plains, Oregon, ends with the elimination of commercial food waste processed at the facility.  Just goes to show you, composting stinks.

Recology Environmental Solutions Nature’s Needs, a composting facility near North Plains, Oregon, has been the subject of more than 1,500 odor complaints.  The Washington County Board of Commissioners recently voted to eliminate commercial food waste from the facility.

Nature’s Needs, an aerobic composting facility owned by Recology, processes about 45,000 tons of yard waste and other organics each year, including material from nearby Portland’s curbside food waste collection program. The facility has been processing food waste since 2010. Before that, it had accepted only yard waste. Recurring nasty odors attributed to the facility having some locals pushing for the food compost program to be terminated.

To try to reduce the odor problem, Recology had made several improvements to the site, including paving the entire processing area to help collect runoff; building raised, vegetated barriers around the property and moving some of the smellier operations to hours when they will be less of a nuisance. But while those improvements helped reduce the odor, they did not eliminate it entirely, officials said.

Residents formed an organization called Stop the Stink to lobby for the composting program to be terminated altogether. The story was that the improvements would be the fix, however, with the improvements in place it is stinking worse than ever,” Marilyn Shulz, Stop the Stink chairperson, wrote in a statement, calling the operation a “failed performance.”

According to the board’s Jan. 22 decision, Nature’s Needs will stop accepting commercial food waste after April 1, 2013. The change will reduce the amount of food waste at the facility by about 86% and its total intake volume by about 30%.

There are always going to be odor complaints where there are compost facilities accepting food waste, because composting, no matter what it is, creates some sort of odor. Composting stinks, that is a fact.

Composting operations should not be sited on the doorstep of a town so why build more?  No one wants them in their backyard.  Location.  Location.  Location…

Read the whole article here:

The President’s Agenda


Thank you President Obama for caring about the environment, for looking to tackle the pollution problem, and for looking to support solutions that reduce our country’s carbon footprint and lower our greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama urges Congress to act on Climate Change Issues…

The time has come for Congress to pursue a bipartisan solution to climate change, President Obama urged in his fifth State of the Union address.

The environment and climate change has been off Obama’s agenda in recent years, but he used the stage to press lawmakers on the issue Tuesday. He touted advances in natural gas and said the United States has begun to cut into foreign dominance in the clean energy market.

“… if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said in the address. “I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Obama said the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence.

“That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits,” he said. “But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.”