Tag Archives: commercial compost facility

Compost Contractors Hit By Sudden Termination

Ouch… good luck loading up a landfill instead.

Island residents must feel the pressure to minimize their waste due to more limited living space, right?

In order to exist going forward, we need fertile soil for food production and a drastic cut to our greenhouse gas emissions.  Composting is the solution to both of those.

Mayor Kim needs to create a task force to manage the back-end distribution of compost, period.  It may seem like a burden, but it’s critical to keep the island functioning in the long run.

Reverting to landfilling is going to hurt- I think they’ll realize they screwed up pretty soon.

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.


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…

City of Tempe, Arizona Gives FREE COMPOST to its Residents – Awesome

Here’s a pretty cool video showing the compost facility side of things in a series of phases.

I was surprised when the dude mentions the piles cooking at 165F- that’s well above any temperatures needed for thermophilic kill.

Stoked that Tempe has rolled out a proper composting program.

“Slash the trash!”

Nice Compostable Cup… How About the Top?

Behold the Ecotainer, the compostable cup.  Behold the lid, which will never compost…ever.

Maybe I’m just being a jerk, but this is what I’d call a mixed message.  Maybe they just ran out of their normal wax paper lid that day and had to default to crappy plastic.  Maybe the preferred non-plastic lid cost more.  Maybe the paper cup cost more than they wanted it to…which leads me to my first point:

I hope the cost of the cup didn’t break the bank.  There’s plenty of paperboard cups on the market that don’t say anything about being compostable, even though they are by default.  It reminds me of how aerosol cans are labeled “No CFCs”…although they have been banned since 1978.  Unnecessary labeling.

While I realize that paper isn’t devoid of issues, I’d rather turn my food-soiled paper products into easy compost than put my unappealing food contaminated plastics in the recycling, uncertain if that material will see another life.

Quick Questions with Peninsula Compost’s Nelson Widell

Wilmington Organics Recycling Center- Part 2

Recently I sent a few questions over to Nelson Widell at Wilmington Organic Recycling Center.  I’ve visited the facility a few times, and I had some questions about contamination and sorting, as well as bioplastics and pressure treated wood…so here we go:

Tyler: How much compost is created each day?

Nelson: We are producing about 200 tons per day of compost.

Tyler: What would you say the average contamination rate is for your incoming loads?

Nelson: Contamination is approximately 3% by weight.

Tyler: What’s your least favorite common contaminant you receive from incoming loads? (in compost receptacles available to patrons, I always see ketchup packs and plastic utensils)

Nelson: The plastic circular label stickers put on bananas and tomatoes is the least favorite contaminant.

Tyler: Describe the sorting system in place to sift out plastics/other contaminants at the end of the cycle.

Nelson: We screen the end product on rotary trommel screens with an air sifter for plastics.  The air sifter is essentially a giant vacuum cleaner and sucks plastic away from compost because it is lighter.

Tyler: How do you test for pressure treated wood versus non pressure treated wood for composting?

Nelson: Testing for Arsenic levels is the way to make sure we aren’t getting pressure treated wood.

Tyler: My understanding is that bioplastics take longer to break down, exemplified by Sun Chips bags, and compostable plastics sticking around through several home compost cycles.  Is this the case even in your massive hot composting setup?

Nelson: The bioplastics are OK in our system because of the higher heat we generate.

Tyler: Do bioplastics take more than one full cycle to break down?  Does the temperature get up around 160 degrees?

Nelson: Temperatures are up to 160F and it’s impossible to find bioplastics after it runs through one time.

Tyler: Do you receive horse/cow/chicken manure at the facility to improve the compost, or are you technically making mulch?

Nelson: We receive animal manure, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the compost appreciably.  Manures make no difference since the broad base of materials we process include plenty of nitrogen and protein already.

Tyler: How often do you get “fake” non ASTM D6400 liners that end up leaving plastic behind, such as oxo biodegradables?

Nelson: It isn’t possible to detect “fake” non ASTM liners since we are currently receiving well over 500 tons per day.

Tyler: So then at the first stop, you just rip open any non-green bags (first obvious sign) and put them aside for trash?  Is your end of process plastic waste mostly skeletons of non biodegradable bags?  Chip bags?  Condiment packs?

Nelson: Our front end processing includes breaking the bags and mixing in the slow speed shredder but no bag removal. That’s done on the back end after composting since at that time the material is dry and more readily and cleanly separated both by screen sizing and wind sifter.

Tyler: Any plans to build more facilities?  Not that Wilmington is far, but Philly could certainly use one…

Nelson: We are planning additional facilities in Chicago, Massachusetts, and Baltimore.

Wilmington Organics Recycling Center (video)

Wilmington Organics Recycling Center- Part 2

This is the best video showing how a commercial composting facility handles their stuff.

Keep in mind this is a $20 million facility complete with 2 ton Goretex tarps and capacity of 500+ tons a day.  Wow.  I know of a few customers of theirs that are quite happy with their stuff, and I’ve been a recipient of their finished product and we saw how that did…remember?

One thing that I always wonder about…how can they tell if their wood waste contains creosote or CCA, or was formerly used in phytoremedial projects?  Would the critters in the pile break down that nasty stuff?  Compost is a cheaper disposal route per ton than the landfill for most (within proximity to a facility, of course)… so wouldn’t that tempt more unnecessary waste going to this place without care if it’s compostable and/or non-toxic?  Gross thought.

I guess that’s sadly not much different than sending the same toxic stuff to a landfill, to leach out in due time into the water table (which does happen, and landfill liners are actually permitted to leak quite a bit).

I guess it always comes back to toxins in, toxins out, doesn’t it?