Communities fight planned compost operation at Hilo landfill (article)

Original source: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/communities-fight-planned-compost-operation-hilo-landfill

Native Hawaiian communities in Keaukaha and Panaewa are gearing up to fight a planned composting facility adjacent to the Hilo landfill, a move that could jeopardize a key component of the county’s plan to close the landfill and recycle more of its waste.

Residents, including Hilo Councilwoman-elect Sue Lee Loy, are asking for a more in-depth study than the environmental assessment currently underway. They’re seeking the more intensive environmental impact statement, or failing that, a study that takes into account all of the government facilities currently impacting the community.

Bobby Yamada, treasurer of the Keaukaha-Panaewa Farmers Association, said the community opposes the plan.

“Our position is no, because the community’s concerns have not been met,” Yamada said Monday.

And some say they’ll take the issue to court, if need be.

The county’s current plan is to have construction begin in April for the $10.5 million composting facility, with it going into operation in 2018, converting green and food waste from all of the island. Non-recyclable garbage from the entire island will be sent to the West Hawaii landfill in Puuanahulu.

Under the plan, transfer stations around the island will continue to serve as drop-off points for household waste, HI-5 recyclables and green waste.

The Hilo landfill has an estimated three years of space left for garbage.

A draft environmental assessment released in August estimates 28,000 tons of organic waste will be composted the first year, ramping up to 35,000 tons by year 10. That includes 18,000 tons from West Hawaii that will be trucked to Hilo.

The county reopened the comment period and extended it to Dec. 12 following an outcry from the residents, several of whom said the county didn’t contact them for input.

Yamada said the community will continue its protests if the finding of no significant impact in the draft EA becomes final, and if their protests aren’t heard, some residents might appeal in court.

“Everybody has that option,” Yamada said. “We’ll just let the process move forward.”

Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd defended the county’s decision to locate the facility, including a tipping floor and covered windrows to compost the waste, at an old quarry adjacent to the landfill.

Leithead Todd said the facility should create no more noise or odors than the current operations at the landfill. She said the site is the logical choice because most of the infrastructure is already in place. The facility can’t be located at the West Hawaii landfill because of the need for water, she said.

In addition, the operation will offer free mulch that has been processed to kill invasive species such as coqui frogs, ohia fungus, little fire ants and coffee berry borers, as well as local compost at competitive prices, something the farmers could benefit from.

“I understand the concerns, but the operations will be virtually the same,” Leithead Todd said. “In fact, it’s going to be no more and probably less of an impact than the current operations there.”

Leithead Todd said she’s confident the finding of no significant impact will be finalized, and the residents, once they see the benefits, will have their concerns alleviated.

But Lee Loy, whose own Panaewa farm lot is just six houses away from the current landfill, said the new facility is just one more thing added to a community that already has the landfill, airport, Mass Transit baseyard, sewer treatment plant, racetrack and shooting range.

“At the end of this process, our big ask is to cap. No more. To stop taking the easy way,” Lee Loy said during a Nov. 18 community meeting in Keaukaha recorded by Big Island Video News. “It gives the county an opportunity to say this community has done enough, and we need to look somewhere else, somewhere far away. And have other communities help heal our community but also help carry the burden that the Hawaiian Homes community has carried for far too long.”

Lee Loy’s comments were more tempered when contacted Monday. Still, she said, the community has concerns, and it’s her job to represent them. As a planning consultant and freelance legal researcher, as well as a resident, she feels best qualified to communicate the concerns and help reach agreement.

“This just bubbled up from the community, so I just facilitated it,” Lee Loy said. “I’ve been asked to help. Kudos to the community. They really are engaging in the processes that are available to them.”

Public comments can be submitted to Greg Goodale, Solid Waste Division chief, Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management, 345 Kekuanaoa St., Hilo HI 96720 or via email at Gregory.Goodale@hawaiicounty.gov, or to planning consultant PBR Hawaii and Associates Inc., attention Vincent Shigekuni, 1001 Bishop St., Suite 650, Honolulu HI 96813 or via email at vshigekuni@pbrhawaii.com.

The 337-page environmental assessment can be found online at http://oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20Documents/EA_and_EIS_Online_Library/….

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

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Asking for a more in-depth EIS is understandable.

Enclosed composting systems are the way to go- open air windrows seem OK, until they’re mismanaged and odors become a problem.

Crunching the numbers, by the time it’s in full operation they’re looking at just under 100 tons per day.  Done right, this should be a manageable amount.  Done wrong, the community will let you know quickly that it’s a problem.

The statement mentioned accepting bioplastics- that worries me.  Which bioplastics are accepted?  That’s a well-documented challenge for composting facilities.

With only three years left of landfilling waste, the residents should be happy it’s a composting facility being proposed instead of an incinerator.  I wish we could get a proper composting facility here in Philadelphia…

Naples-area compost operation growing and thriving (article)

Original article found here: http://www.mpnnow.com/news/20161128/naples-area-compost-operation-growing-and-thriving

A small backyard compost turned into a rich farming operation in Prattsburgh that is keeping Naples-area food waste out of the landfill

Al Zappetella makes weekly rounds through Naples to pick up buckets of kitchen scraps. Barrels of discarded onion skins, banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, apple cores and other food waste — along with leaves, yard trimmings and other organic waste — get trucked a few miles down the road to Prattsburgh.

Zappetella has been doing the free pickups for a few years now. That is, after he and partner Celeste Arlie realized they were outgrowing their small, backyard compost pile in Naples. Family, friends and neighbors began adding to the pile. It cut everyone’s household waste by more than half.

Then, as Arlie posted on the Facebook page set up to get the word out, they went bigger: “In an effort to make the world a little bit greener we wanted to bring composting to our community.”

Now, at their farm on Route 53 in Prattsburgh, where Zappetella brings the weekly haul from 12 households and several Naples businesses, the compost operation is thriving. Food scrap pickups include from the local grocery store, Rennoldson’s Market, and restaurants such as Roots Cafe and The Grainery among other stops. Prattsburgh Central School is also on board, and Zappetella hopes the Naples school district will join, too.

From inside the barn, Zappetella shows a number of 32-square-foot beds, where the compost soil is in various stages of development. He started about four years ago with 2 pounds of worms. They multiply like crazy, he said. The worms recycle the food scraps and other organic material by eating the scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. Compost exits the worm through its tail end — basically, it’s the worm poo that does it, Zappetella said, pulling up a fistful of the rich mix.

Outside the barn, Zappetella pointed to the surrounding undeveloped hillsides from the family farm that runs on both sides of Route 53. “We want to use all the resources,” he said. A few of the farm’s 30 or so chickens pecked at a fresh pile of food scraps — it’s OK that meat and bones are in the scraps because the chickens eat it, he said. With help from his sons and other family, Zappetella said they are able to keep the place going and look to grow.

In all, along with the chickens, they have 14 goats and 7 Icelandic sheep that all live under the watchful eye of Loli, an Anatolian shepherd who guards the place. “She’s fearless,” said Zappetella. Before they got her, he noted, bears raided the farm and broke into their beehives.

Four of the 20 acres are fenced in, and a new barn is going up across the field. Eventually, they would like to open a roadside stand to sell their goat-milk products and other farm produce.

The compost makes rich fertilizer for growing their fruits and vegetables and they sell “16th-inch fine-sifted worm castings,” he said.

With nearly half of all the waste that lands in landfills from food and other organic material, the push is on put it to use. Ontario County is behind the effort, with its move to reduce landfill waste by at least 60 percent within the next nine years. The contract with landfill manager Casella Waste Systems Inc. expires in 2028, when many say they want the county to shut down the facility in the town of Seneca. A big part of the effort involves the county and its municipalities and businesses working together, while individuals also take the lead.

“Waste is a lack of imagination,” said Keith Turner of Canandaigua, quoting the owner of a local worm farm. Keith and his wife, Sue, collect coffee grounds from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters in Farmington for compost.

“So this is trying to have an imagination,” Keith said.

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I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Waste is definitely a lack of imagination.

This is inspiring!  While I don’t have a barn, or much of a yard- I wonder if I could collect my neighbor’s food scraps, too.

I think that proactive composting is going to continue picking up momentum as it becomes correctly perceived as a necessity.  Whether you live in the city or out in the country, whether you’re aware of environmental issues or not, I have this hunch that composting will become something that brings people together.

I know how sappy that sounds, but think about it- we’re all people, we all defecate in the water supply and bury our food in landfills instead of returning it all to the soil so we can grow food to eat.

Also- 1/16″ worm castings are NICE.  That’s some fine stuff.

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In Maine, a Whale of a Compost Pile

[ original source: http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20161119/in-maine-whale-of-compost-pile ]

GORHAM, Maine (AP) — Lobster carcasses, dead sea urchins and other “seafood waste” are common ingredients in the compost pile at Benson Farm Earth Products. A 43-foot right whale, not so much.

But the leviathan’s bones were the prize as a team of volunteers from Marine Mammals of Maine arrived at the Gorham farm dug into a smelly, steaming pile of compost, sawdust and whale to extract skeleton pieces including ribs bigger than a person.

The rare and protected whale met its demise after becoming entangled in fishing gear off Boothbay Harbor in September. It was trucked to the farm for composting.

Lynda Doughty, executive director of the nonprofit Marine Mammals of Maine, says she hopes the skeleton can be reassembled as an educational exhibit.

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I was relieved about a few things here: first of all, they’re composting a gigantic animal instead of doing something stupid like incinerating it.

That’s cool that they want the skeleton, too- I can only imagine how quickly that carcass will break down!

I composted a friend’s dead turtle not too long ago, and of course he wanted the shell.  I couldn’t believe how quickly the shell was degrading.

If you’ve never composted a carcass, I highly recommend it.  Your pile craves it.  It adds some good variety to the mix, causing a nice thermophilic spike in temperature.  As always, add double the carcass’ amount in shredded browns and it’s a breeze.

How to: Making a compost bin for your garden for only about $20!

It’s refreshing to see so many “how to build a compost bin” videos on youtube.

It really is that easy- get a trash can, drill holes in it and add organic material.

She mentions the usual “no meat or dairy” line, which I still completely ignore- meat, dairy, seafood, oily foods all compost like every other living thing…you just need a larger bin and more cover material (leaves).

Harbor Freight Leaf Shredder

It’s leaf shredding season, and if you’re looking for something to take care of wet leaves at a rapid pace, the Harbor Freight shredder looks good.

I have an electric Worx shredder, but it can’t really handle wet leaves and the blades need to be replaced quickly if you accidentally add thicker materials.

It doesn’t look like this has a problem with that…however it’s $300 and burns gas.

Self-Propelled Compost Turner

After doing a few slow-moving donuts, this compost turner gets down to business.

I found this channel Fertilizer Machinery recently, so I’m going to put a few videos up.

Due to the volume of material, I guess it isn’t feasible to build huge piles and let them sit without introducing the heavy equipment- yet another reason to do it at home by hand.

Composting Made Simple.