Tag Archives: composting

Vermont sees spike in food donations as organics ban takes effect

original article posted here: http://www.wastedive.com/news/vermont-sees-spike-in-food-donations-as-organics-ban-takes-effect/431809/

Dive Brief:

  • Based on a new status report from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the state’s 2012 Universal Recycling Law has led to notable results on landfill diversion. Between 2014 and 2015 disposal rates were down 5% and diversion rates increased by 2%, as reported by the Burlington Free Press.
  • Food donation increased 40% between 2015 and 2016, with a significant increase in fresher items such as fruits, vegetables and frozen meat. The Fresh Rescue Program now has 40 partner sites throughout the state.
  • The state aims to boost its current diversion rate of 35% to 47% by 2022. DEC estimates that the law will have led to a 37% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by then.

Dive Insight:

Since this law took effect all Vermont municipalities and solid waste districts have adopted some form of a pay-as-you throw system. Recyclables and yard waste have been banned from landfills, the number of public recycling bins have increased and large generators have been required to divert their organic waste. By July 2020 organic waste will be banned from landfills entirely.

While some businesses and municipalities have raised concerns about the requirements, any reports of fines for noncompliance have been rare. Though once haulers are required to offer organics collection in July 2017 ahead of the 2020 landfill ban, it’s possible that new challenges could arise.

During a recent conference, an assistant waste reduction manager from one of Vermont’s solid waste districts raised the point that new education methods are needed to get residents on board with organics diversion. The process of collecting and managing organics is more complicated — and more expensive — than it is for standard recyclables. Helping people understand this may not be easy, but it will be important if Vermont hopes to achieve its diversion goals.


The first question I had when reading this was: Recyclables and yard waste were “banned” from landfills.  How about incinerators?  Or the modern P.R. B.S. term known as “waste to energy”?

Be careful in the wording… I hope organics are truly being composted and donated as opposed to dumped or burned.

Remember- “waste to energy” is not renewable… once you burn food waste, you don’t get it back.  You’re left with less organic material and more air pollution.

I would also argue that managing organics is not a more complicated or difficult process- it’s just different.

For the resident, you either learn how to compost at home (best practice), or you put it curbside in a lined toter.

For the hauler, they’re transporting the material to either a facility comprised of windrows or an indoor anaerobic facility, both of which can be managed effectively to process organic materials into fertile soil to be used locally.

Excellent news for Vermont!

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.


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.

Pingree introduces bill to reduce food waste, create energy

(original post at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/12/pingree-introduces-bill-to-reduce-food-waste-creat/ )

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Maine U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is calling for a comprehensive plan to reduce food waste.

The Democrat says her proposal will help farms, retailers, restaurants and schools waste less food. She says it will also divert high-quality food to food banks and turn non-edible scraps into energy or compost.

Pingree’s office says 40 percent of food produced in the country is wasted and uneaten food costs $161 billion annually.


Whenever I see a news headline about governments trying to mandate composting in some form, I get excited but I also worry what is being pitched.  Is she really worried more about wasted food instead of emissions and soil infertility?

I can’t tell if these people genuinely think that incineration (‘waste to energy’ as it’s deceptively called) is a good idea.  In this case, she may be (hopefully) referring to an indoor closed anaerobic facility where methane is properly captured and utilized on site to power the plant.

While I’m always in favor of outdoor large scale aerobic windrow setups, I have seen plenty of issues with those when they aspire to accept way too much material.

Either way, I’m noticing an upward trend in composting as a vital goal that will chip away at our climate and soil fertility issues.  It’s not a bad thing- we have to go that direction.  There’s two options:

Landfill + organics =  methane and displaced nutrients/materials

Compost facility + organics = CO2 and nutrient-rich soil

Which sounds better for the future?

Using our Insinkerator Food Waste Grinder as a “Compost Companion”, take 1

Here’s a mostly excellent video… the core idea is right on: Grind up your food waste to encourage rapid decomposition.

I’m a little lost on the pro- garbage disposal talk, though.

I’ve seen only a few write-ups on this, and they’ve all been from Insinkerator… conflict of interest, perhaps?

Convert organic materials into compost in your own yard, or flush them down the drain to combine with nasty chemicals, heavy metals, motor oil, medication, and everything else that washes into the sewers.

Even with an infrastructure set up to compost sewage sludge (which isn’t always the case- it’s often incinerated!), the end product contains a lot of crap.

Keep your organic materials at home.

Anyway, the dude explains how he puts all his organic materials in his compost bin, including cat litter.  I hope more people take his lead… the proliferating myths about the things you can’t compost (meat, dairy, oil, etc) are ridiculous.

I hope this dude covers his deposits each day… I didn’t see him throw in any brown materials on top of the food scrap blend.

To be clear, shredding food scraps is not required.  It speeds up the process a bit, and will heighten the temperatures of the compost pile- however, neither of these things are mandatory to get good compost.

That’s what’s so great about composting- just put the stuff in the pile and let it do what it does.  Pay attention to airflow, moisture, mixture and volume and you’re good to go!