A Quick Statement to the City of Philadelphia on the Importance of Composting (article repost)

(reposted from my other website, tylertalkstrash.com)

Recently I was asked to provide a statement to the City of Philadelphia on why composting needs to be made more widely available for its residents.

While there will be some difficult logistical challenges to evaluate, there is absolutely no reason why this can’t make positive progress.

I was in quite a rush, but at the last minute I was able to type something out.  Luckily, I think about this very issue quite often so I was able to write a cranky blurb just in time.  Here it is:

I’ve lived in Philadelphia for nine years, and while the city has plenty of green initiatives going on for it, there’s also plenty of room for improvement.

The most obvious is the lack of curbside compost collection.

Composting is my hobby- it’s what I do. On a weekly basis, my curbside blue bin is overflowing, while my trash can rarely makes the trip to the curb at all. Everyone’s blue bin is overflowing, so why do we still have the waste issues we have?

There’s two important things to consider here- first of all, is that “recycling” is not enough. Most plastics that are put to the curb never see another life. They don’t have the value to be resold unless they are in pristine condition and someone actually wants to buy the material.  Some plastics are cheaper to extract and produce again than they are to recycle.

The recycling rates for plastic are abysmal. #1 and #2 plastics are 25% or less, with #3 through #7 at 6% or less (I found this statistic in the Bag It! documentary.  Watch it, it’s awesome). Even glass is running out of options these days, which is criminal because it doesn’t leach undisclosed toxins into your food and water like plastic does.

It’s unfortunate because people think they’re actually recycling everything from their house when in reality they’re being deceived of their efforts. Just because something is recycle–able, doesn’t mean it’s actually recycled.

Worst of all, this material is often burned to create a trivial amount of energy that would never cover the energy wasted on even starting up an incinerator.  Waste-to (of)-Energy is a massive lie and needs to be uncovered more thoroughly for what it is.

Anyway…organic material is organic material. There’s no room for failure here. I compost all my food scraps at home, my soiled paper products, and essentially any item that is organic. I also have a compost toilet to avoid fouling up our water supply.

The point is that this massive amount of organic material that we all generate, which comprises over 50% of landfills (food, paper products and yard waste combined, according to EPA in 2012) is now creating methane. Think of it this way- Our landfills could be 50% smaller than they are currently!

Landfills are devoid of oxygen. Worse yet, landfills often flare off these gases which are mixed with other toxic, cancerous compounds. Methane is 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. There’s nothing good about a landfill, especially when most materials we dispose can be handled in another manner.

If all this organic material hits the compost pile instead, it utilizes oxygen to break down naturally, with carbon dioxide as the natural byproduct. After a few months, you’re also rewarded with fertile soil to be used again. It’s the world’s oldest process.

Mayor Nutter stated that he aspired to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the country. This will absolutely never happen without composting being provided. This can be done by not only teaching people how to do it at home, but also creating smaller centralized sites throughout the city plus curbside pickup. While this will be a tricky process, it’s one we need to evaluate in order to get the City to where it needs to be.

We’re long overdue with making composting a common activity, both at home and the workplace. If more people composted at home, it would reduce the burden on our landfills.

If more people composted at home, they’d start asking why they can’t do it where they work.

They might realize that if they skipped one TV show to build their compost pile, they could cut their landfill burden in half. Upkeep is one commercial per week. Seriously!

If you haven’t started composting yet, give it a shot. Significantly less trash to the landfill, reduced greenhouse emissions, and fertile soil. Although most people aren’t losing sleep about becoming attentive to one of humanity’s biggest problems, it must become standard behavior in order to sustain our future.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Deposit Materials in your Compost Bin

Recently I put together a second compost pile in my backyard, and I took a few quick photos as I started adding material.

I want your pile to work the best it can while not giving off any odors or attracting local pests.  These two concerns are super easy to prevent- all you need to do is add a layer of browns over each and every food scrap deposit, and make sure you have two to three times as much brown material as food scraps.

 

3-layer of final browns1.) Start your new pile with browns first.  I added straw first to act as a sponge for any excess moisture, then my first deposit of shredded leaves.  This totals a little over 6″, but I would have added more material if I had it.

To be sure, your compost pile will barely leach any liquid if at all.  Compost piles crave moisture as they need it to work…it’s really hard to over-saturate.  Use a watering can to dampen the pile.

2-layer of food2.) Add your food scraps.  For a large compost bin with at least 3′x3′x3′ in capacity, be sure to add ALL food.  All food composts just fine…the reason you will often hear that certain items “don’t” compost is that the composting system being used does not achieve hot composting temperatures so the material sits there.  This is mostly due to lack of capacity which is a key factor to spark a thermophilic reaction.

For fun, I threw in some chinese take-out containers.  It’s quite possible that they have a thin plastic lining, although I’m not totally sure.  I personally don’t care about having to pick out some remnants of plastic at the end of the composting process.  Maybe if I was growing veggies I would; but since I’m not, I’m happy to experiment and screen the finished product…I do it anyway.

 

1-layer of browns3.) Lastly, add another layer of shredded brown materials and dampen it with water.  That’s it.  Go back and forth.  Always cap off your pile with a layer of browns, NOT food scraps.  Leaving food scraps sitting on the top uncovered will result in odor and/or pests.

At the end of each week, I empty my kitchen food scrap collector into my compost pile and then cover the deposit with a quick layer of shredded leaves.  That’s all there is to it.

Any questions?

finished pile contents

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hot Compost Method for Beginners

Hot Compost Method for Beginners

Just like his other video, I’m finding he’s doing too much work!

-No need to turn the pile
-No need for an activator (just add dirt instead)
-More leaf litter

I envy his materials, and he’s the perfect candidate for a compost toilet.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Not So Hot Compost

Not So Hot Compost

The reasons for the pile not working are easily solvable.

First: the pile is predominantly manure.  A working pile needs to have three times as much carbon as nitrogen.  He mentions activators, but in this situation they won’t help at all.

He needs shredded leaves as his browns.  I can’t tell if there’s any food scraps in there, added to the center and covered with a fresh layer of browns (shredded leaves).

Second, the pile is super dense and airflow is limited.  He needs browns.

Third, there is no reason at all to turn the pile, ever.  By doing so, the heat from the center is randomly redistributed, making the pile (the thermophilic critters) lose momentum.  Do less, reap the results.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geobin Compost Bin Has New/Improved Locking Mechanisms

Old Style

Old Style

New Style

New Style

The Geobin compost bins now ship with a set of one-piece keys instead of plastic nuts and bolts.  Seems like a win… only downside is that it didn’t include rods to help fix the bin to the ground like the old version did.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vermicomposting at Home – Food Waste Optimization III

Vermicomposting at Home – Food Waste Optimization III

This is the final section in Bentley’s 3 part series with making your food scrap submissions the best they can be.  Can’t go wrong with his advice…watch the pros!

Posted in General, Vermicomposting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vermicomposting at Home – Food Waste Optimization II

Vermicomposting at Home – Food Waste Optimization II

Here’s part 2 in Bentley’s excellent series on prepping your food scraps for worms for the best results.  Learn from the master!

Posted in General, Vermicomposting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vermicomposting at Home – Food Waste Optimization

Vermicomposting at Home – Food Waste Optimization

This is part one of a 3-part vermicomposting series done by THE dude Bentley Christie.  Follow these tips and your worms will give you no hassles, ever.

Posted in General, Vermicomposting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fate of food waste sent to Wilmington uncertain if Peninsula Compost facility closes (article)

by Larry Nagengast
September 26th, 2014

The possible shutdown of Peninsula Compost’s Wilmington Organic Recycling Center prompts a question that should concern Delawareans who have yet to catch a whiff of the facility’s odors.

If the facility in Wilmington’s Southbridge community is closed, where do all the composting materials go? Would the odor be moved from Southbridge to a location where it would impact a different group of residents?

“Yes and no,” says Bill Miller, environmental program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section, which oversees the facility.

Peninsula’s current license allows it to process up to 120,000 tons of food waste and 40,000 tons of yard waste a year.

A small amount would go to other composting facilities, Miller says. There are two other commercial composting sites in Delaware. Blue Hen Organic in Frankford accepts food wastes, while Blessings Blends in Milford accepts poultry wastes but not food wastes, Miller says.

Neither facility is as large as Peninsula, and both are far from northern New Castle County where much of the food waste processed at Peninsula is generated, so they would not be likely to take on much of the materials processed in Wilmington, he says.

If the same amount of food and yard wastes were moved to a site of similar size in an area like Middletown, Dover or Lewes, and the plant were managed in the same way, chances are the odors would be similar, Miller says.

But the impact of the odor would be different if a plant accepted more or less waste, if it used different equipment, or if it were located in a less populous area, he says.

Environmental activist Alan Muller, executive director of Green Delaware, says it is possible that a closure could play out as “a zero-sum game,” with the odor problem moving from Southbridge to another location, but he doesn’t think it will necessarily happen that way.

Muller points out that Peninsula has the capacity to process more food wastes than can be generated in Delaware, and it has been known to accept materials trucked in from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and occasionally from New York. If Peninsula were closed, trucks that are traveling a significant distance to get to Wilmington may seek a destination other than one in a more distant part of Delaware.

“Maybe there’s an area in south Jersey where they’re used to odors and feedlots and would be more accepting,” he says.

As part of its operating procedures, Peninsula is required to develop a closure plan. That plan, revised most recently in June, estimates that it would cost a little more than $400,000 to shut down the facility. The plan calls for hauling unprocessed solid waste materials to landfills, while completing the composting of any waste materials on which the process has already begun. Overall, it would take about 120 days to complete the shutdown.

The 18 state legislators who wrote DNREC earlier this month asking that Peninsula not be granted a new permit acknowledged in their letter that “there are additional factors involved regarding diversion of waste to the Cherry Island landfill and businesses that utilize the compost facility for organic recycling.” They offered to assist DNREC if it appears that legislative action would be required to resolve issues associated with a possible closure.

==================================================

Has the shutdown of their facility given composting a bad name (smell)?

I think there’s two factors at play here- first of all, the volumes of material sent to this facility are tremendous.  I have a feeling when you’re dealing with several hundred tons of material per day, you can have all the brown materials in the world and still have challenges with managing the windrows.

The other problem is that separating compostable material from garbage is really difficult, and certainly a major factor in the site’s constant odor battle.  More stringent contamination limits would most likely help.

I’ve visited this site several times, and I was always impressed with their systems in place.  I don’t remember the facility smelling disgusting, but I’m around trash every day so who knows?

Here in Pennsylvania, there are successful composting operations that have operated for many years on just an acre or two- no odor issues paired with strict contamination guidelines.

The key to successfully expanding on composting going forward is to open more small sites instead of a few massive ones that will inevitably have odor issues and negatively affect the neighboring communities.

The other key component is to have more people compost at home- I know, such an insane idea.  There’s no point in waiting for our communities to provide composting services for us- just start doing it yourself and see what you’re missing!

The possible shutdown of Peninsula Compost’s Wilmington Organic Recycling Center prompts a question that should concern Delawareans who have yet to catch a whiff of the facility’s odors.

If the facility in Wilmington’s Southbridge community is closed, where do all the composting materials go? Would the odor be moved from Southbridge to a location where it would impact a different group of residents?

“Yes and no,” says Bill Miller, environmental program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section, which oversees the facility.

Peninsula’s current license allows it to process up to 120,000 tons of food waste and 40,000 tons of yard waste a year.

- See more at: http://www.wdde.org/68094-compost-sidebar#sthash.pVM8PA8M.dpuf

by By Larry NagengastSeptember 26, 2014
By Larry NagengastSeptember 26, 2014

The possible shutdown of Peninsula Compost’s Wilmington Organic Recycling Center prompts a question that should concern Delawareans who have yet to catch a whiff of the facility’s odors.

If the facility in Wilmington’s Southbridge community is closed, where do all the composting materials go? Would the odor be moved from Southbridge to a location where it would impact a different group of residents?

“Yes and no,” says Bill Miller, environmental program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section, which oversees the facility.

Peninsula’s current license allows it to process up to 120,000 tons of food waste and 40,000 tons of yard waste a year.

A small amount would go to other composting facilities, Miller says. There are two other commercial composting sites in Delaware. Blue Hen Organic in Frankford accepts food wastes, while Blessings Blends in Milford accepts poultry wastes but not food wastes, Miller says.

Neither facility is as large as Peninsula, and both are far from northern New Castle County where much of the food waste processed at Peninsula is generated, so they would not be likely to take on much of the materials processed in Wilmington, he says.

If the same amount of food and yard wastes were moved to a site of similar size in an area like Middletown, Dover or Lewes, and the plant were managed in the same way, chances are the odors would be similar, Miller says.

But the impact of the odor would be different if a plant accepted more or less waste, if it used different equipment, or if it were located in a less populous area, he says.

Environmental activist Alan Muller, executive director of Green Delaware, says it is possible that a closure could play out as “a zero-sum game,” with the odor problem moving from Southbridge to another location, but he doesn’t think it will necessarily happen that way.

Muller points out that Peninsula has the capacity to process more food wastes than can be generated in Delaware, and it has been known to accept materials trucked in from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and occasionally from New York. If Peninsula were closed, trucks that are traveling a significant distance to get to Wilmington may seek a destination other than one in a more distant part of Delaware.

“Maybe there’s an area in south Jersey where they’re used to odors and feedlots and would be more accepting,” he says.

As part of its operating procedures, Peninsula is required to develop a closure plan. That plan, revised most recently in June, estimates that it would cost a little more than $400,000 to shut down the facility. The plan calls for hauling unprocessed solid waste materials to landfills, while completing the composting of any waste materials on which the process has already begun. Overall, it would take about 120 days to complete the shutdown.

The 18 state legislators who wrote DNREC earlier this month asking that Peninsula not be granted a new permit acknowledged in their letter that “there are additional factors involved regarding diversion of waste to the Cherry Island landfill and businesses that utilize the compost facility for organic recycling.” They offered to assist DNREC if it appears that legislative action would be required to resolve issues associated with a possible closure.

- See more at: http://www.wdde.org/68094-compost-sidebar#sthash.pVM8PA8M.dpuf

The possible shutdown of Peninsula Compost’s Wilmington Organic Recycling Center prompts a question that should concern Delawareans who have yet to catch a whiff of the facility’s odors.

If the facility in Wilmington’s Southbridge community is closed, where do all the composting materials go? Would the odor be moved from Southbridge to a location where it would impact a different group of residents?

“Yes and no,” says Bill Miller, environmental program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section, which oversees the facility.

Peninsula’s current license allows it to process up to 120,000 tons of food waste and 40,000 tons of yard waste a year.

A small amount would go to other composting facilities, Miller says. There are two other commercial composting sites in Delaware. Blue Hen Organic in Frankford accepts food wastes, while Blessings Blends in Milford accepts poultry wastes but not food wastes, Miller says.

Neither facility is as large as Peninsula, and both are far from northern New Castle County where much of the food waste processed at Peninsula is generated, so they would not be likely to take on much of the materials processed in Wilmington, he says.

If the same amount of food and yard wastes were moved to a site of similar size in an area like Middletown, Dover or Lewes, and the plant were managed in the same way, chances are the odors would be similar, Miller says.

But the impact of the odor would be different if a plant accepted more or less waste, if it used different equipment, or if it were located in a less populous area, he says.

Environmental activist Alan Muller, executive director of Green Delaware, says it is possible that a closure could play out as “a zero-sum game,” with the odor problem moving from Southbridge to another location, but he doesn’t think it will necessarily happen that way.

Muller points out that Peninsula has the capacity to process more food wastes than can be generated in Delaware, and it has been known to accept materials trucked in from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and occasionally from New York. If Peninsula were closed, trucks that are traveling a significant distance to get to Wilmington may seek a destination other than one in a more distant part of Delaware.

“Maybe there’s an area in south Jersey where they’re used to odors and feedlots and would be more accepting,” he says.

As part of its operating procedures, Peninsula is required to develop a closure plan. That plan, revised most recently in June, estimates that it would cost a little more than $400,000 to shut down the facility. The plan calls for hauling unprocessed solid waste materials to landfills, while completing the composting of any waste materials on which the process has already begun. Overall, it would take about 120 days to complete the shutdown.

The 18 state legislators who wrote DNREC earlier this month asking that Peninsula not be granted a new permit acknowledged in their letter that “there are additional factors involved regarding diversion of waste to the Cherry Island landfill and businesses that utilize the compost facility for organic recycling.” They offered to assist DNREC if it appears that legislative action would be required to resolve issues associated with a possible closure.

- See more at: http://www.wdde.org/68094-compost-sidebar#sthash.pVM8PA8M.dpuf

The possible shutdown of Peninsula Compost’s Wilmington Organic Recycling Center prompts a question that should concern Delawareans who have yet to catch a whiff of the facility’s odors.

If the facility in Wilmington’s Southbridge community is closed, where do all the composting materials go? Would the odor be moved from Southbridge to a location where it would impact a different group of residents?

“Yes and no,” says Bill Miller, environmental program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section, which oversees the facility.

Peninsula’s current license allows it to process up to 120,000 tons of food waste and 40,000 tons of yard waste a year.

A small amount would go to other composting facilities, Miller says. There are two other commercial composting sites in Delaware. Blue Hen Organic in Frankford accepts food wastes, while Blessings Blends in Milford accepts poultry wastes but not food wastes, Miller says.

Neither facility is as large as Peninsula, and both are far from northern New Castle County where much of the food waste processed at Peninsula is generated, so they would not be likely to take on much of the materials processed in Wilmington, he says.

If the same amount of food and yard wastes were moved to a site of similar size in an area like Middletown, Dover or Lewes, and the plant were managed in the same way, chances are the odors would be similar, Miller says.

But the impact of the odor would be different if a plant accepted more or less waste, if it used different equipment, or if it were located in a less populous area, he says.

Environmental activist Alan Muller, executive director of Green Delaware, says it is possible that a closure could play out as “a zero-sum game,” with the odor problem moving from Southbridge to another location, but he doesn’t think it will necessarily happen that way.

Muller points out that Peninsula has the capacity to process more food wastes than can be generated in Delaware, and it has been known to accept materials trucked in from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and occasionally from New York. If Peninsula were closed, trucks that are traveling a significant distance to get to Wilmington may seek a destination other than one in a more distant part of Delaware.

“Maybe there’s an area in south Jersey where they’re used to odors and feedlots and would be more accepting,” he says.

As part of its operating procedures, Peninsula is required to develop a closure plan. That plan, revised most recently in June, estimates that it would cost a little more than $400,000 to shut down the facility. The plan calls for hauling unprocessed solid waste materials to landfills, while completing the composting of any waste materials on which the process has already begun. Overall, it would take about 120 days to complete the shutdown.

The 18 state legislators who wrote DNREC earlier this month asking that Peninsula not be granted a new permit acknowledged in their letter that “there are additional factors involved regarding diversion of waste to the Cherry Island landfill and businesses that utilize the compost facility for organic recycling.” They offered to assist DNREC if it appears that legislative action would be required to resolve issues associated with a possible closure.

- See more at: http://www.wdde.org/68094-compost-sidebar#sthash.pVM8PA8M.dpuf

The possible shutdown of Peninsula Compost’s Wilmington Organic Recycling Center prompts a question that should concern Delawareans who have yet to catch a whiff of the facility’s odors.

If the facility in Wilmington’s Southbridge community is closed, where do all the composting materials go? Would the odor be moved from Southbridge to a location where it would impact a different group of residents?

“Yes and no,” says Bill Miller, environmental program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section, which oversees the facility.

Peninsula’s current license allows it to process up to 120,000 tons of food waste and 40,000 tons of yard waste a year.

A small amount would go to other composting facilities, Miller says. There are two other commercial composting sites in Delaware. Blue Hen Organic in Frankford accepts food wastes, while Blessings Blends in Milford accepts poultry wastes but not food wastes, Miller says.

Neither facility is as large as Peninsula, and both are far from northern New Castle County where much of the food waste processed at Peninsula is generated, so they would not be likely to take on much of the materials processed in Wilmington, he says.

If the same amount of food and yard wastes were moved to a site of similar size in an area like Middletown, Dover or Lewes, and the plant were managed in the same way, chances are the odors would be similar, Miller says.

But the impact of the odor would be different if a plant accepted more or less waste, if it used different equipment, or if it were located in a less populous area, he says.

Environmental activist Alan Muller, executive director of Green Delaware, says it is possible that a closure could play out as “a zero-sum game,” with the odor problem moving from Southbridge to another location, but he doesn’t think it will necessarily happen that way.

Muller points out that Peninsula has the capacity to process more food wastes than can be generated in Delaware, and it has been known to accept materials trucked in from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and occasionally from New York. If Peninsula were closed, trucks that are traveling a significant distance to get to Wilmington may seek a destination other than one in a more distant part of Delaware.

“Maybe there’s an area in south Jersey where they’re used to odors and feedlots and would be more accepting,” he says.

As part of its operating procedures, Peninsula is required to develop a closure plan. That plan, revised most recently in June, estimates that it would cost a little more than $400,000 to shut down the facility. The plan calls for hauling unprocessed solid waste materials to landfills, while completing the composting of any waste materials on which the process has already begun. Overall, it would take about 120 days to complete the shutdown.

The 18 state legislators who wrote DNREC earlier this month asking that Peninsula not be granted a new permit acknowledged in their letter that “there are additional factors involved regarding diversion of waste to the Cherry Island landfill and businesses that utilize the compost facility for organic recycling.” They offered to assist DNREC if it appears that legislative action would be required to resolve issues associated with a possible closure.

- See more at: http://www.wdde.org/68094-compost-sidebar#sthash.pVM8PA8M.dpuf

Posted in General | Leave a comment

COMPOST PILE ORGANIC POTATO HARVEST (video)

COMPOST PILE ORGANIC POTATO HARVEST – Wisconsin Garden

Lark did a great job with these potatoes!

Posted in General | Leave a comment