Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Stock Pile of Long Island Garbage

railcars

Railcars that were supposed to be delivered to Long Island, New York last week to haul away stockpiled municipal garbage were sent to New Jersey instead, further delaying the removal of an estimated 5,000 tons of waste.

Some waste-management companies earlier this month notified their Long Island customers that until the backlog clears, their waste could no longer be accepted. The stockpiles of baled garbage were being stored at transfer stations at several collection and transfer facilities.

When the railcars arrive, the trash is to be loaded onto the empty railcars and then the baled garbage would travel via LIRR tracks to Queens where the railcars would be switched onto a train and taken to a landfill in Kentucky.

The trash buildup is caused in part by an increase in the number of tourists and seasonal residents flocking to Long Island in the summer, overloading garbage-handling facilities in recent weeks. The transfer facilities used for processing the waste and the flatbed trucks used typically to drive the waste to landfill have been unable to keep up with the volume of garbage coming in.

So, to alleviate the backlog, railcars were authorized, temporarily, to carry garbage off Long Island. Food waste now has to travel farther from your kitchen garbage can to its final resting place, and longer trips mean more greenhouse gas emissions. Train trips generate approximately 40% more carbon-dioxide equivalents than the methane the garbage would have released in its first year at an in-state dump. While NY State has only a capacity at their state landfills to last only 25 more years, most of the states garbage must be shipped across state lines. Kentucky happens to have room for 212 million tons of waste and sees the acceptance of this waste as an economic opportunity, but for the environment a doomed misfortune.

New York needs to push smart food waste disposal processes onto their largest generators in order to keep more than 30% of their waste off those rail cars. On-site aerobic technology is a solution New York should get behind sooner than later, a 700 mile trip for disposal makes no sense.

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Vancouver Gives Hotels and Restaurants Five Months to Prepare for Their Cities Food Scrap Ban

vancouver

Vancouver city council is mandating that all food scraps and green waste will have to be recycled as of next year. But not just next year, in a short five months, effective January 1. Six months ahead of NYC’s ban.

Just this week, the city council agreed to include hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and other commercial and industrial waste generators in a plan to divert all compostable materials from the city’s landfill and transfer stations as of Jan. 1, 2015.

Vancouver began food scraps recycling two years ago for single-family dwellings and some city-serviced, multi-unit buildings, but that only accounts for a third of all organic waste in the city.

This plan of requiring all waste generators to divert their compostable materials by the new year is an effort to meet a similar Metro Vancouver ban on all organic waste at regional landfills.

So far, no municipality has yet to capture organic waste from industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) producers.

The one significant challenge is that the city doesn’t currently offer pickup service for the ICI sector. As a result, businesses will quickly have to either work with their commercial waste haulers to implement the new city directive or take matters into their own hands and seek out on-site solutions.

The ICI sector is estimated to produce 70 per cent of the city’s organic waste and are considered the big prizes in Vancouver’s effort to reduce waste at landfills by 50 per cent by 2020 over 2008 levels.

Initially, the city intends to educate people about the need to remove all organics from their garbage. But beginning in July, 2015, the city will initiate penalties directed toward large producers of waste of 50 per cent of the tipping fee for garbage loads that contain too much wet waste. Beginning in 2016, medium producers will be targeted, and in 2017, small generators could face fines.

Some of the city’s larger chain restaurants, stores, hotels and producers have already been looking to put food scrap diversion programs in place.

Alternative solutions, such as on-site aerobic technology allowing the digested food waste to slip effortlessly to the sewer systems is technology that has grown in popularity of late. The Eco-Safe Digester has emerged as the leader in Canadian installations primarily because in addition to being a compliant technology in respect to the diversion ban, it gives businesses exposure to the data about what is thrown out in order create less. This is seen as an added bonus.

For as long as people have produced garbage, tossing out the remains of meals has been a fact of life. But now, with a renewed push to cut greenhouse gases, reduce mankind’s environmental footprint, and learn more about what is wasted in order to create less, times are changing for the better.

State Cites Wilmington Compost Plant for New Violations

ticket

Residents in some south Wilmington communities are miffed about state silence on odor concerns in a new violation report on the Peninsula Compost LLC site.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) officials cited the company for “abundant” accumulations of prohibited wastes but made no mention of the chronic smells drifting off the site.

The agency also reported plans to schedule a public hearing on a permit needed for the company to continue operations.

Officials are aware that odor is a “major concern” in surrounding communities and that it is very strong at times, to the point where local residents can’t stay outside.

The odor is really having a compound effect on residents in Southbridge almost to the point of it being unbearable.

Peninsula has implemented a DNREC mandated Odor Minimization and Monitoring Plan and has hired a new General Manager who is focused on improving the overall operations, minimizing odors being a top priority. They seem to be committed to the improvement of their operations, but this isn’t the first time they were cited and will probably not be the last.

Peninsula opened in 2009 with a permit to compost up to 160,000 tons of materials a year using a high-tech, rapid composting method using special fabric covers for part of the process. Food wastes, yard waste, animal bedding and other woody wastes come in from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York City.

Odor complaints, and charges of excessive stockpiling, began not long after operations began. DNREC last year fined the firm $25,000 for a series of violations.

While composting is an option to be utilized by a certain type of customer the challenges in operating them are being put in the spotlight even more now than ever. Odors, herbicide contamination, nutrient run-off, transportation-related energy consumption, and the shortage of facility locations are just a few.

Should NYC be transporting their food waste 260 miles round trip which in turn becomes a burden to Wilmington residents?

For any city or town exploring the idea of hosting a food waste processing facility in order to bring more revenue into that city or town, be prepared for the obnoxious odors and the complaints.

Methane-Capture Facilities at New Jersey Landfills in Danger of Being Closed

methane capture

For years, the state supported projects to capture methane gas from old garbage dumps and turn it into electricity, a process that eliminates a lethal source of greenhouse gas pollution.

But now at least five of those landfill projects are in danger of being closed down, because the engines used to create electricity from the gas frequently break down and are making the facilities economically unviable. Without the economic relief, five of New Jersey’s county landfill projects are in jeopardy of closing this year. They include projects in Warren, Sussex, Burlington, Atlantic, and Salem counties.

If they are closed it would deprive New Jersey of 20 megawatts of electricity from those landfills, while at the same time leaving utility customers on the hook to pay for power from similar projects in nine neighboring states.

To prevent that from happening, the Legislature is considering a bill that would help offset the costs of some of the state’s landfills by awarding them more renewable energy certificates. But that would saddle ratepayers with additional expenses, according to the state Division of Rate Counsel.

The Division of Rate Counsel argues that the bill inappropriately shifts the risk of “economic loss’’ from the investors in the facilities to gas and electric customers. They believe the bill is nothing more than a ‘bailout’ of these facilities at the ratepayer’s expense.

Neither side disputes what the problem is. Some dumps contain siloxane compounds, which come from hairsprays and aerosols. These more quickly erode the engines used to create the electricity, spiking up maintenance costs.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Backers of the bill say if the landfill projects are closed down, the methane would just simply escape into the atmosphere.

The Food Waste Hierarchy

Waste hierarchy_447

According to the National Resources Defense Council:

  • Approximately 40% of all edible food is thrown away in the U.S.
  • Supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables alone
  • Restaurants throw out around 10% of the food they purchase

Most people seem to have an inherent understanding of the senselessness and tragedy of wasted food while there is so much need in the world. But what if you knew that every time you threw food away you were contributing to another global problem?

According to the EPA:

  • 14% of the greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. stem from getting food from the farm to your fork and then to the landfill.
  • Food waste has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s and is now the largest solid waste contributor to landfills.
  • 31 million tons of Americans’ unfinished meals sit in landfills across the country producing methane.
  • It is estimated that if we were to prevent this food waste from either being created or disposed of it would be like taking a quarter of all cars in American off the road.

While the latter might seem a daunting and overwhelming task, preventing food waste is something that companies should be focused on; not just finding an easier or cheaper way of disposal. A real plan addresses strategies on how to prevent the creation of food waste all together.

Companies such as The Cheesecake Factory and Fairway Market have incorporated waste reduction or “zero waste” goals into their long-term targets and with the data available from their Eco-Safe Digester, have also committed to monitor and analyze what is wasted in order to learn more about their potential for greater volumes of prevention and savings.

Reducing and preventing food volume is the highest priority in managing food waste. Detailed and organized data from the Eco-Safe Digester helps to make informed changes that can positively affect food management practices, staffing, operational activities, and cost of goods sold.

Reusing and donating food benefits others rather than sending it to the landfill. The Eco-Safe Digester identifies opportunities for future donations.

Recovering uneaten or expired food for a different use is also a better choice than sending it to a landfill, a method soon to be outlawed in some states. The Eco-Safe Digester can and will eliminate the food waste in a more efficient manner as it converts up to 2,500 pounds of food waste each day into a nutrient-neutral grey water that can be recovered.

Every company’s waste stream is unique, financial and environmental impacts as well as emerging regulatory measures must be considered when designing prevention and diversion goals, but in the end it is good for business, your customers, and the environment to not only divert the waste away from landfills but also to learn how to prevent it all together.