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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume III, Issue 33, August 19, 2013 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  

Teru's Trash Talk

If you peer at something too close, you lose perspective. We've been doing exactly that with our waste management and resource recovery effort to the detriment of the larger context. We think we're really doing something special when we pull a plastic bottle out of the trash, when in reality the Bottle Bill just happens to be something simple enough for us to do, and something agencies can programmatically control. Recycling certainly can make environmental sense, but when we see the larger picture of today's version of recycling, the game falls apart. Save mining and refining resources here; waste a lot more when we ship recyclates, trans-oceanic.

"Life Cycle Assessment" or LCA requires that we count up the total environmental impact of an activiy. This modern accounting method is working its way into global resource management and planning, enforcement, and financing. How much does the release of toxic air and water contaminants cost us humans, really? How can we tell? The new metrics add in the collateral damage of getting what we want, allowing comparison to the alternatives. LCA can show us the real cost of Big Oil, beyond the price at the pump.

The same measuring scenario has to apply across the board, and conversion of waste, recycling of resources, and production of biofuels all need to toe the same line. Apply LCA measures to biofuel, and you find that you need to count the good with the bad and the purely ugly. Sure, count the reduced carbon emissions as a plus. Then figure out how to subtract for the damage done when virgin forests are replaced with oil-palms, or entire native villages are usurped to grow sugarcane. Bless our landfill diversion rates, but count the greenhouse emissions generated over the entire life cycle of each recycling pathway. But surely conversion of waste back into goods must be better, right? Well, we sure hope so, but we need to be prepared to prove it.

Great. We have figured out how to take most kinds of waste apart at the molecular level, and how to reconstitute those molecules into things we need. How many gallons of diesel were used transporting the separated recyclates to out-of-the-region reprocessing plants? Is the environmental cost of letting things rot in a landfill really greater than the additional amount of truck exhaust generated by sending those recovered things to who-knows-where? That's the point: if you don’t know where things go, you can't perform the LCA and really can't say if you are gaining or losing environmental ground. Life Cycle Assessment demands accountability. What you don't count, you can't measure. Taking responsibility for local waste generation prompts us to manage materials near where wastes are generated, and that requires big-picture infrastructure planning and implementation. It isn't OK any more to simply assume those separated goods are being responsibly managed.

Hey Rube!

California's approach to addressing man-caused climate change, AB 32, depends largely on understanding release of greenhouse gas emissions for each major industrial and municipal activity, and the Waste Management Sector is currently under scrutiny. For goodness sake, don't stop recycling, but DO get involved in this sweeping assessment of our current waste management and resource recovery habits. Question Everything.

This Week's Top Story

Praj Starts Construction on South Asian Bioethanol Demo Plant

India based Praj Industries has announced ground-breaking for South Asia's first integrated 2nd generation (2G) cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility that will have a capacity of 100 dry tonnes of biomass per day. 08/13/2013

The Week's News

NOTE: If you are using IE10 and our website isn't loading as smoothly as you would like or the page jumps when you click on a link to go to a certain news item, just change to "compatibility view" and all will be fine.


LanzaTech Partners with India Research Center for CO2 to Low Carbon Fuels

New Zealand headquartered LanzaTech has announced entering into a research and development agreement with India's Centre for Advanced Bio-Energy Research to explore production of low carbon fuels from waste carbon-laden emissions. 08/17/2013

Xylitol and Mascoma Assess Feasibility of Highly Integrated Biorefinery

Toronto based Xylitol Canada Inc. has announced that it is in the feasibility phase with New Hampshire-based Mascoma Corporation, toward development of an integrated biorefinery in the Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada. 08/17/2013

BioNitrogen Will Use Casale's Ammonia/Urea Technology for Florida Plant

Florida based BioNitrogen Holdings Corporation has announced signing an agreement with the Swiss firm Casale Group to use its ammonia and urea plant technology for BioNitrogen's first plant in Hardee County, Florida. 08/17/2013

Tamar Energy Selects Monsal Technology for Food Waste AD Plant

United Kingdom (UK) based Monsal Limited has announced a major contract with Tamar Energy to provide the complete technology package for the 45,000 tonne/year, 2 megawatt electric (MWe) food waste anaerobic digestion (AD) project in Halstead, Essex. 08/17/2013

Methes Energies Secures $1.5MM for Expanding Ontario Biodiesel Plant Ops

Methes Energies has announced that its subsidiary Methes Energies Canada, Inc., has closed on $1.5 million in working capital financing for the company's Sombra Biodiesel Plant in Ontario, Canada. 08/17/2013 

CARB and Australian Clean Energy Regulator Sign MOU to Reduce GHGs

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Australian Clean Energy Regulator have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to address the global issue of climate change by sharing information on emissions trading programs, market-based program operations, reporting requirements, and technical standards. 08/14/2013

DEFRA Releases Annual Report on Anaerobic Digestion Strategy, Action Plan

The United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has released its annual report for 2012-2013 on progress since the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Strategy and Action Plan (Plan) was published in June 2011. 08/14/2013 

GranBio and Rhodia Partner to Produce n-Butanol from Biomass Residuals

Brazilian company GranBio has announced an agreement with Rhodia to establish a partnership for production of n-butanol from biomass. 08/13/2013

Darling International Acquires Terra Renewal to Expand Food Waste Recycling

Texas based Darling International Inc. has announced acquisition of Terra Renewal Services, Inc, adding the company's employees and all industrial operations to Darling's portfolio. 08/13/2013

IBBK Schedules Anaerobic Digester Operator and Engineering Training

The Germany based International Biogas and Bioenergy Center of Expertise (IBBK) has announced this year's biogas training schedule. 08/13/2013

The Week's Action Items

Due 04/30/2014: Grant Applications to CEC for Alternative Fuel Readiness Plans

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released a Program Opportunity Notice (PON) for the support of development and submission of Alternative Fuel Readiness Plans (PON-13-603). 08/18/2013

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18-19, 2013

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Recommended Reading:

Waste to energy conversion technology
Waste to energy conversion technology (Woodhead Publishing Series in Energy 2013)


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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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The Teru Talk Newsletter is published weekly or more or less frequently, primarily depending on what is going on in the world of waste conversion or ours.