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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume II, Issue 3, January 16, 2012 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Here's a brain teaser for you: After you've picked out every last scrap of recognizable, easily recovered, and reclaimable plastic in the flow of trash, can you turn the rest into "renewable energy, fuels and chemicals"? Well, is the recycling of waste plastic more renewable when you melt it down and turn it back into plastic than when you melt it down and turn it into jet fuel? So let's say THAT constitutes a beneficial use for recycled plastic, whether or not you make more plastic from it. After all, you don't make more apples out of recycled food waste from an apple processing plant, eh? Does it make a difference that the starting material wasn't an organic? Careful, now … we're poking at some of those precious precepts we have about what is and isn't Recycling.


Agencies and industries are struggling with "extended product stewardship"; in California, one product under scrutiny is Carpet. A detailed Plan has been developed by an organization representing Carpet manufacturers to satisfy recently enacted laws that make those same manufacturers responsible for seeing that waste carpet and backing are diverted from the landfill. Some off-ends can be cleaned, trimmed and used as-is. Some can be cut up to make "carpet tiles", glued to floors like linoleum squares. Some will get torn apart, and the fibrous plastic materials made back into Carpet. And some, as the Plan and the State agree, can be Carpet as Alternative Fuel (CAAF), since the big waste-to-energy plants and the cement kilns really, really like that high-Btu feedstock.


What isn't mentioned, not surprisingly, is what Carpet manufacturers don't do; they don't make fuels or chemicals. When they are done with the scraps, when they can no longer make those little bits back into carpet stuff, it must be Waste, and since this whole game is predicated on cutting down on Disposal, well, maybe it'll burn. Like apple processors, their scraps need to be converted by those who know how to do something else with them; your waste is my feedstock. But there is a BIG opportunity being overlooked. This very costly program of Carpet Stewardship can be substantially off-set if those non-recyclable scraps can be converted into heat for the melters and electricity for the lights and equipment, into far less expensive clean-burning alternative fuel for the fork-lifts and big rigs, and maybe even into high-value foundation chemicals to make more plastic. If you can accomplish that trick with right-sized modular ultraclean conversion technologies on the manufacturer's site, you avoid a whole slew of transport costs and emissions. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of companies who ARE paying attention to converting post-recycling plastics into heat, electricity, fuels and chemicals, and although this pathway isn't called out and encouraged, the Plan at least doesn't preclude them from the program.


So, back to the teaser: You've done all you can to make new carpet out of the old scraps. If you convert the rest to heat, to electricity, to fuels and/or to chemicals, isn't that also Recycling?  

Hey Rube!

Tuesday's CalRecycle meeting in Sacramento will decide on approving the California Carpet Stewardship Plan. We've submitted formal Comments (see below), so if you are in the neighborhood, drop by …

The Week's Extra Reading

See Teru's Comments to CalRecycle on the California Carpet Stewardship Plan and the proposed adoption of its CEQA Negative Declaration.

The Week's News

California DTSC and US EPA Sign Green Chemistry Accord

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to collaborate on identification, removal and substitution of toxic chemicals in consumer products. 01/15/2012


Santa Barbara County to Initiate CEQA on Regional MSW to Energy Project  The Santa Barbara County, California, Public Works Department has prepared a staff report requesting authorization from the Board of Supervisors to initiate California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review on the multi-year Resource Recovery Project to divert waste from the Tajiguas Landfill. 01/14/2012


Malaby Biogas Receives First WRAP Anaerobic Digestion Loan

The United Kingdom's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has announced that Malaby Biogas is the first to benefit from the Anaerobic Digestion Loan Fund (ADLF) from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 01/14/2012


BlackGold Biofuels, SLM Partner for Commercial Kitchen Grease Program  Two Pennsylvania companies with broad national market services, BlackGold Biofuels and SLM Facilities Services, have announced a strategic partnership to provide collection services and biofuels conversion for waste commercial kitchen grease. 01/14/2012


Waste Conversion Start-ups Among Finalists in 2012 Clean Energy Challenge  Two waste conversion start-ups are among the ten finalists in the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge for the Midwest according to the Trust's announcement just released. The finalists were selected from 59 applicants across eight states. 01/13/2012


Cool Planet Biofuels Starts Negative-Carbon Fuels Fleet Tests in California   California based Cool Planet Biofuels, Inc has announced receipt of California Air Resources Board (CARB) approval to begin commercial fleet testing of its negative carbon biofuel. 01/12/2012


UMass Researchers Boost Biochemical Output from Biomass by 40 Percent  The University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced that its chemical engineering researchers have improved recovery of petrochemical alternatives from non-food woody biomass by as much as 40% over previous methods using catalytic fast pyrolysis technology. 01/12/2012


CEC/PIER Community Scale Renewables RFP to be Released Next Month  The California Energy Commission's (CEC) Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program held a workshop on January 10, 2012 to request stakeholder input on its upcoming Community Scale Renewable Energy Development, Deployment and Integration solicitation. 01/12/2012


SAIC, Enova Energy, Carlyle Group Launch $225 Million Biomass Project   Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and the Carlyle Energy Mezzanine Opportunities Group (Carlyle) have jointly announced a $225 million agreement to finance the construction of the 37.5 megawatt Plainfield Renewable Energy (PRE) biomass project, owned by a subsidiary of the Enova Energy Group LLC (Enova). 01/11/2012


Verso Paper Completes $45MM Renewable Energy Mill Upgrade

Memphis-based Verso Paper Corporation has announced completion of a major renewable energy upgrade to its pulp and paper mill in Quinnesec, Michigan. 01/11/2012


Renewable Gas Research in Ireland Receives Funding Boost

The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) at University College Cork announced receipt of €250,000 to advance research in 2012 on the country's renewable gas development "beyond the academic and into industry." 01/11/2012


EPA, DOE and WAPA Host Green Power Program Webinar

An informational web presentation entitled "Overview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Program" will be held on January 25, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (MST). 01/11/2012


ClearEdge Signs $500MM Agreement with Güssing for 50 MW of Fuel Cell Energy  Oregon's scalable stationary fuel cell manufacturer ClearEdge Power has announced the signing of a long-term system supply agreement with Austrian distributed energy specialists Güssing Renewable Energy GmbH. 01/10/2012


JBI Secures $2.8MM for Plastic2Oil Technology Buildout 

Ontario, Canada's waste plastics conversion company JBI, Inc. has announced closure this month of an equity financing round totaling $2.795 million, for further development of its "Plastic2Oil" (P2O) technology platform and production capacity. 01/10/2012


Imtech Secures Commission for Polish Recycling and Energy Plant Netherlands-based technical services provider Imtech has been commissioned by Polish waste company Finalsa S.A. to provide all technical solutions for an advanced waste management facility near Warsaw, Poland. 01/09/2012


Extreme Biodiesel Converts Waste Glycerin to New Product

Extreme Biodiesel has announced that it will convert its waste glycerin to new value-added products, including lubricants for concrete and asphalt forms as used in landscaping and road construction. 01/09/2012

The Week's Action Items

Due 02/21/2012: Proposals for Low Carbon Biofuel Production Facilities to CEC  The California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced the release of a Program Opportunity Notice (PON-11-601), soliciting proposals for either new low carbon biofuel production facilities, or for significant carbon intensity reductions in biofuels from existing production facilities. 01/13/2012


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Teru Talk is an online publication of JDMT, Inc with the goal of opening the dialogue and providing current news and commentary on issues and successes associated with waste conversion to renewable energy, biofuels and other bio-based products for resource recovery.

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