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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume III, Issue 45, November 11, 2013 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  
Veteran's Day - November 11, 2013

Teru's Trash Talk

Congratulations are due to the City of Los Angeles for reducing the amount of crud going into its landfills by a pound and a half per person in the last ten year! No kidding now, that's huge: the City has added over a hundred thousand people in the last a decade and more folks move in every day. But as the numbers of people, jobs and sales have increased and the amount of trash generated has risen, so has the amount diverted from disposal through the City's public-private cooperative effort. In Y2K, trash going into the regional landfills from the City amounted to 5.7 pounds for every man, woman, and tot ever to toss a dirty diaper, flip a bottle into the kitchen trash can, or fill a dumpster with Business Discards. By 2011, that "generation rate" dropped to 4.2 pounds per person, diverting better than 75% of all waste generated by its good citizens.

That claim recently received the royal treatment. This year, the City gathered all their notes and commissioned UCLA's Engineering Extension Recycling and Municipal Solid Waste Management Certification Program to develop an independent Zero Waste Progress Report, completed earlier this year and just now really starting to get the attention it deserves. No easy task, documenting what is actually happening between the toss and the recovery that California off-handedly calls "diversion." Everybody generates numbers, and numbers can be made to support whatever result is politically expedient. Turning a boast into documented fact has taken a lot of effort. But stemming the head-long rush to Dump Everything - that's where the Real Work happens.

Half-way through the decade in 2006, the City adopted the RENEW LA policy calling for development of seven conversion technology facilities, with one facility located in each of Sanitation’s six wastesheds, and the seventh conversion technology facility to be located within the local region. The City Council was clear: "The goal of Zero Waste as defined in this plan is to reduce, reuse, recycle, or convert to energy the resource now going to disposal so as to achieve an overall diversion level of 90% or more by 2025; and to leave for disposal only a small inert residual."

The City of Los Angeles has adopted this science and data-backed policy to guide how Diversion can cleanly and safely take place. When you are faced with a veritable Tsunami of Trash, you need an All of the Above approach to effectively intercept and recover. Unlike the state-wide dictates of CalRecycle, the City's Waste Management Hierarchy slips waste treatment by “Alternative Technologies” in just below Recycling / Composting, and above Landfilling. This includes "alternative municipal solid waste processing technologies that will increase landfill diversion in an environmentally sound manner, while emphasizing options that are energy efficient, socially acceptable, and economical. Alt Tech includes advanced thermal recycling (ATR), pyrolysis/gasification, anaerobic digestion, composting, autoclaving, fermentation" and whatever clean and green approach comes along next.

The Zero Waste Progress Report shows that this progressive, highly integrated approach can and does work, providing a number of case studies. No brag, just fact: 75% diversion. But as the report's Final Note emphasizes, that remaining 25% is going to be the most difficult to achieve. City of Los Angeles: stand up and take a bow - OK, that's enough dilly-dallying, now get back to work.

Hey Rube! 

Around the globe, communities big and tiny are finding ways to put Alternative Technologies to work, reclaiming the stuff we get done using. Look at what you buy, consider what you actually need, watch what you throw away, and ask your Leaders what they actually DO with all that crud. You might be surprised at the wildly differing answers you get.

The Week's Extra Reading

UCLA's Zero Waste Progress Report for the City of LA and the Summary Appendix (warning: 35MB file) have been added to our References for easy access. Dig in: lots of encouraging sanity contained in a colorful 50 page presentation, backed by over 500 pages of data-packed Appendices.

This Week's Top Story

New Recyclable Fiberboard Could Help Solve UK's Waste Problem

The United Kingdom (UK) based University of Leicester has announced that Professor Andrew Abbott has been awarded the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation 2013 for development of a new wood-based product similar to Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) that uses a starch based resin from completely natural sources, such as potatoes. 11/04/2013

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.


Battelle's Mobile Catalytic Pyrolysis Device Turns Waste Biomass into Bio-Oil

The Ohio based international nonprofit Battelle Memorial Institute has announced a pilot-scale, mobile catalytic pyrolysis technology that turns wood residue or other waste biomass into bio-oil. 11/08/2013

Zero Waste Energy Breaks Ground on Organic Waste to CNG Fuel Facility

California based Zero Waste Energy, LLC has announced the groundbreaking of its latest project, a SMARTFERM® anaerobic digestion facility in South San Francisco, California that will convert organic waste into compressed natural gas (CNG) and compost. 11/08/2013

International Symposium in Toronto Endorses Energy from Waste

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association has announced that an international gathering of scientists, researchers, and industry experts meeting in Toronto has endorsed the future of energy recovery (or energy-from-waste). 11/07/2013

USDA Awards $10MM to Develop Bioenergy from Beetle-Killed Wood

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a $10 million grant to a consortium of academic, industry, and government organizations led by Colorado State University (CSU) and their partners to research using insect-killed trees in the Rockies as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy. 11/07/2013

Cory Environmental Opens Its First Anaerobic Digestion Facility in Somerset

Cory Environmental has announced that its first anaerobic digestion facility has opened in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. 11/07/2013

WRAP Releases Report on 2012 Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK

The United Kingdom's (UK) Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has announced release of its report containing estimates of the quantity and types of food and drink waste generated by UK households in 2012. 11/07/2013

Biome Bioplastics Helps Develop Biodegradable Single-Serve Coffee Pods

United Kingdom based Biome Bioplastics has announced development of a biodegradable coffee pod, offering one of the first sustainable packaging alternatives in the single-serve market. 11/06/2013

Facility in China Earns First Ever RSB Certification for Waste-Gas to Biofuels

LanzaTech and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) Services Foundation has announced that joint venture (JV) Beijing Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Science & Technology Co, Ltd has earned RSB’s sustainability certification for its facility that converts waste steel mill gases to sustainable biofuels. 11/05/2013

New Test for Enzyme Cocktail Can Speed Research for Biofuel Production

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has announced development of a new test to speed up research to create a potent blend of enzymes to transform materials like corn stalks and wood chips into biofuels. 11/04/2013

The Week's Action Items

Due 01/13/2014: Proposals to PSCo for Forest Biomass Energy Demo Project

Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo), an operating company subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc, has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to acquire the capacity and energy associated with a single forest biomass gasification generation project with an electrical output rating no more than 2 megawatts. 11/04/2013

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