Category Archives: Going Green

New York City Announces Business Organics Rules

Beginning July 19, 2016, certain New York City businesses will be required by law to separate their organic waste. If your business meets the minimum requirements outlined below, you must comply with the business organics rules.

Establishments covered by Business Organics Rules

  • All food service establishments in hotels with 150 or more rooms
  • All food service vendors in arenas and stadiums with seating capacity of at least 15,000 people
  • Food manufacturers with a floor area of at least 25,000 square feet
  • Food wholesalers with a floor area of at least 20,000 square feet

Businesses covered by this proposal are given the option to arrange for collection by a private carter, transport organic waste themselves, or process the material on site. Suitable processing methods include composting and aerobic/anaerobic digestion. A food waste grinder is not permitted.

Business Resources: materials and trainings offered by DSNY.

Self-Transport: Businesses choosing to haul their own source-separated organics must register with the NYC Business Integrity Commission (BIC).

On-Site Processing: Businesses covered by these rules that choose to process organics on-site must register with DSNY within 30 days of installing on-site processing equipment.

NYC Commercial Organics Law

organic-waste-11414NYC Commercial Organics Rule

Recology Intentionally Told Schools To Trash Millions Of Recyclable Trays And Then Blames The Kids

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Recology instructed San Francisco school officials to not recycle the recyclable plastic trays the district uses daily to serve students food. So reports the Chronicle, which details the jaw-dropping behavior by the city-contracted waste company that began in 2013 and may have only stopped when the paper began asking questions about the bizarre instructions given to school officials.

“Recology has told us they don’t want any plastics because they’re too soiled,” the principal at Commodore Sloat Elementary School, Greg John, told the paper. “It’s now institutionalized.” Of course, the trays are perfectly recyclable — covered in food or not. Food scraps mixed in with paper, however, lowers the resale value of the paper for the company, the Chronicle observes.

In response to what is clearly a PR nightmare for the company, spokesperson Robert Reed dug a little deeper and attempted to shift the blame to school children too “lazy” to rinse off the trays before disposing of them.

“If you were just lazy and tossed a plastic tray into the recycling that had spaghetti sauce on it, you would be diminishing the quality of the paper that’s getting ultimately recycled,” Reed told the paper.

Recology later attempted to backpedal.

“We accept all hard plastic food trays for recycling,” noted Reed. “We only ask that students who do not finish their meals shake any uneaten food into the green composting collection bins that we provide.”

So, it seems that Recology is more focused on protecting the resale value of the paper more than supporting that whole zero landfill waste by 2020 thing.

BY JACK MORSE IN NEWS ON FEB 22, 2016 3:30 PM

New York City Moves One Step Closer

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Administration proposal expands organics diversion program to the commercial sector.

On July 1st, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration unveiled their proposal to expand organic diversion to the commercial sector. The program would be mandatory for some 357 New York City businesses that generate large amounts of food waste, like the Barclays Center, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium; restaurants inside hotels with more than 150 rooms; and large food-processing plants. The city is planning to eventually require all restaurants to participate in the program, which began under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The program is designed to cut methane emissions from landfills and make waste disposal practices more sustainable in the nation’s largest city.

Specifically, the program will affect 132 hotels, 7 arenas, 58 manufacturers and 160 wholesalers, according to the city. The City estimates that these waste generators produce approximately 50,000 tons per year of food waste that can be either composted or handled in another sustainable manner approved by the Department. City Hall said this program is environmentally responsible and would save space in the region’s overcrowded landfills. Kathryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner said the regulations wouldn’t cost the public any money because they would be the responsibility of affected businesses to comply.

Those affected businesses would be given a six-month grace period, after which violations would result in fines, though the amounts haven’t yet been disclosed.

“We want to be at the forefront of cities that are going to zero-waste-to-landfill,” Kathryn Garcia, said.

In total, the city’s commercial establishments generate roughly one million tons a year of organic waste. So this action will need to be followed up with more expansive directives over the next several years, so that the program ultimately includes all significant food waste generators in New York City.

With the Mayor’s recently released OneNYC sustainability plan, this is apparently what the de Blasio administration plans to do.

Hearings on the proposed regulations will begin in the fall, and the city hopes to see them go into effect next year.

This program brings New York City one-step closer to declaring its independence from environmentally troublesome, methane-generating, climate-altering landfills.

Troubling trend in recycling residential food waste

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Residents in Alameda County, California, apparently hit a wall last year in separating kitchen food scraps from their garbage cans, seriously slowing a trend that became standard with curbside pickup across the county in 2008.

What many residents may not know, recycling advocates say, is that the messy task of putting food scraps into a different container and putting it in the green bin helps slow climate change. When people put food in trash cans, it goes to a landfill, where it turns into methane gas, is released into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.

The data compiled by StopWaste, shows 2014 was a bad year for recycling food scraps compared with 2013 and 47 percent of houses surveyed did not put out their green carts on pickup day, indicating that fewer homes are participating in food scrap and organics recycling,” StopWaste spokesman Jeff Becerra said.

There are several theories for the troubling decline of the county’s food scrap recycling program:

People could simply be tired of doing it because it’s too messy, they have forgotten the environmental reasons it’s important, or could be suffering from food waste fatigue… ‘I’ve been doing this for a year, it smells, and I’m tired of it.’

Once a popular program is now wilting and for those working against climate change have reason to be alarmed.

Dunkin’ Donuts Launches A Green Building Program

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A new Dunkin’ Donuts store certification program aims to stimulate green building techniques.

After getting two stores LEED-certified since 2008, the Massachusetts-based retailer has parlayed the experience to create its own certification program for franchisees.

The company will roll out the program for new construction projects, with a goal of building 100 certified restaurants by the end of 2016. If all goes well, they also want to extend the program to retrofits at some point.

DD Green, as the new program is called, allows for the integration of “efficiency, sustainability and health in the restaurant development,” said John Herth, senior director for global design and construction services at Dunkin’ Brands.

The five stages of the program include: site development; store efficiency; healthy indoors; sustainable operations; and innovation and community.

For the new green building program, Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees either can meet minimum requirements or do more to get a corporate “DD Green Elite” plaque on their store.

“My passion for creating the DD Green program came from my love for sustainability,” Herth said. “I realize how important it is and believe that as business professionals, we owe it to our planet to do everything possible to improve it.

As architect and construction managers work through implementation, they will focus on the practices now expected of any green building. Employees also will be trained to operate the building efficiently.

Looking forward to see how Dunkin’ Donuts evolves their operations with innovation and technology.

There is Quite a Bit of Energy in Bananas

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As school starts back up in a just a few weeks, the children at Public School 30 on Staten Island will once again be asked to dump their uneaten bananas into a bin in the back of their cafeteria.

New York City’s school composting program, kicked off just two years ago, is now in 230 school buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and is expected to more than double in size and reach all five boroughs in the fall, with an ultimate goal of encompassing all 1,300-plus school buildings.

The sad voyage of fruits and vegetables from lunch lady to landfill has frustrated parents, nutritionists and environmentalists for decades. Children are still as picky and wasteful as ever, but at least there is now a happier ending — that banana-filled bin is a composting container, part of a growing effort to shrink the mountains of perfectly good food being hauled away to trash heaps every year.

Much of food waste stream is a result of nutrition rules that require every child to be served healthy food, and health rules that ban re-serving unwrapped food once it has been placed on a lunch tray, for fear of contamination.

Depending on where the school is, the uneaten and half-eaten leftovers are sent to a compost heap at a former Staten Island landfill or 123 miles away to Delaware. The 123 mile trip is far too long of a trip to turn the food waste into compost, so the city will begin sending some of those scraps to a wastewater treatment plant in Brooklyn, where “digesters” will turn garbage into usable gas.

The Eco-Safe Digester offers two additional benefits to this proposed solution at the Brooklyn facility, eliminating the logistical nightmares with transporting the scraps by pre-sorting and pre-digesting the food waste into a liquid and providing key data to help guide changes to future nutrition rules.

Depending on viewpoint, the sheer amount of school food now being composted is either impressive or depressing not to mention the transportation-related energy consumption, the economics of transportation, and the environmental impacts surrounding composting.

The hope is that by diverting the waste from landfill, the city will help the environment, instill a sense of conservation in schoolchildren and, critically, save some money. The city currently pays $93 per ton to dump in landfills.

The idea of sending scraps to local wastewater treatment facilities to where “digesters” will turn the food waste into useable gas sounds far less complicated, more economical, and a better option for the environment.

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

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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.

The Food Waste Hierarchy

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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.

Trash-CanGate

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Garbage is a rare subject at your average cocktail party. But in Washington DC, trash — or the cans it goes in, at least — is a trending topic.

It started with the rush delivery of more than 200,000 shiny-new cans before the city’s primary election. That led to the odd problem of trash can proliferation, with old cans waiting weeks to be picked up and streets and alleys overflowing with extra bins.

Then there was the arrest and lockup of a little-known District artist for trying to repurpose (as flowerpots) several of the old cans that had been plastered with “Take Me!” signs. And the city’s overcorrection of the languishing can problem, which officials dubbed a “blitz” — cleared away not just unwanted cans, but even some recently delivered ones.

And now, it turns out that the city has not been recycling thousands of the cans, as the administration of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) had promised — but chucking them instead.

City officials admitted that sanitation crews dumped at least 132 truckloads of plastic bins — a third of the more than 16,000 old cans collected— alongside city waste and hauled them all off to Virginia to be incinerated.

This episode presents a setback to the District’s effort to reinvent itself as a well-managed city after decades of complaints of dysfunctional services.

“Trash-CanGate” is the byproduct of a badly initiated and badly run program. The $9 million program was to replace every city trash and recycling receptacle for the first time in a decade without a plan in place to collect the old ones.

 

Many of the new cans were delivered in the two weeks before the April 1 Democratic primary. They came with “Take Me!’ stickers to affix to old, unwanted ones, but the city had no plan to retrieve them.

So, Public Works Director William Howland responded by ordering a “blitz”, telling crews to pick up any can left on a sidewalk or in a public alley. But as the effort sped up, residents across Northwest reported seeing not the flatbed trucks that had been carrying away the old cans, but D.C. garbage trucks, which swallowed up and compacted the cans as if they were the week’s trash or recyclables.

The District has a contract to return unwanted cans to the manufacturer in North Carolina. But the process is labor-intensive resulting in the city delivering about 26,500, less than half of the total 71,000 cans collected.

With Mayor Gray advocating for a sustainable D.C., this was certainly a disappointing story to tell.

Time to Be Positive

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There is no better time than now to decide to be more positive and how we can help companies and the environment achieve that status. The best place to start is to set a plan in motion that sets forth a positive vision, one that includes goals that adopt sustainable practices and have positive impacts.

BioHitech America’s technology solution for food waste makes it easy for businesses to make a positive contribution in as many as four key areas: waste, water, carbon, and innovation. Being disposal positive, water positive, carbon positive, and innovation positive is surely encompassing a positive vision.

Disposal Positive
Finding the right solution to become waste positive is unique to each customer. Sending it to landfill is irresponsible, hardly positive, and soon to be banned in many states. Storing it for transport to distant compost facilities is not only costly but creates more carbon not less. The Eco-Safe Digester is an on-site solution converting food waste into a nutrient-neutral grey water that is safe to be disposed of to a standard sewer line eliminating the need for on-road transportation.

Water Positive
All of the Eco-Safe Digester’s installed today are responsible for transforming thousands of pounds of landfill-bound food waste into more than 90 million gallons of grey water every day. By utilizing Water Resource Recovery Centers (formerly known as Waste Water Treatment Facilities) to treat and process the grey water is not only resourceful but also an opportunity to replenish diminished water supplies.

Carbon Positive
Carbon positive eliminates activities that add CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Carbon negative is no doubt a garbage truck getting 4 miles to the gallon, stopping at more than 30 locations a day to pick up food waste that is either landfill-bound or distant compost facility bound. In addition to that, hauling food waste anywhere increases noise and air pollution in and around towns and cities. Processing food waste on-site cleans up congested roads and ultimately prevents pollution. 

Innovation Positive
Cutting-edge technology that remotely monitors utilization and performance while simultaneously reporting on financial, operational, and sustainability progress across multiple locations, well, that is truly positive.

Businesses need to start with a strategy, one that they are committed to sticking too. The strategy should be easy to enforce and sustain, and be cost-neutral at the very least. Being “positive” is a new way of doing business and not just words listed under the corporate sustainability goals.

BioHitech America continues to help its customers exceed all of their sustainability goals while keeping a positive focus.