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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 2, January 13, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Be careful picking at loose threads; you never know which one will unravel the whole shebang. When we select one term common to the overall regulatory framework to change, it is imperative that we consider every place that one change will have an impact. Changing one part is bound to produce a ripple effect throughout the whole mess.

This week, we've been agonizing over proposed California Senate Bill (SB) 498 in its current form, another waste conversion bill sponsored by one of SoCal's state legislative representatives, Senator Lara. The proposed SB 498 language would amend Section 40106 of California's Public Resources Code (PRC) by expanding the legal definition of one crucial term, "Biomass Conversion." Most of 40106 is left alone for now. After umpteen revisions and simplifications, two primary changes are proposed in the current version; the first is a conciliatory gesture designed to at least claim some minor credit for landfill diversion, while the second tries to heal all wounds.

First, SB 498 proposes to lump the use of ALL conversion technology into this "Biomass Conversion" categorical redefinition. The result is that all forms of clean conversion technology would now be reduced to the level of "combustion" or "transformation" in the law, and falling under the 10% limitation for landfill reduction credit. Proponents have fought long and hard to receive landfill diversion credits for non-combustive thermal waste conversion. With 498, we get just that, but strictly limited to the same ridiculously low 10% diversion credit that has ham-strung the big biomass burners for so long.

The second proposed change points to why this limitation is illogical and simply wrong. PRC 40106 provides a short list of feedstock types that have been identified as fuel for biomass combustion. SB 498 expands the definition of Biomass Conversion without also expanding and updating the list of applicable biomass feedstock. We are left to wonder whether processing biomass types not on the list such as food waste or more broadly, "post-recycling MSW residuals" will also be considered biomass conversion with access to the limited diversion credits.

A new sentence would be tagged onto the end of 40106: "For the purposes of this section, “conversion technology” means a method capable of converting biomass into marketable products and fuels through a noncombustion thermal, chemical, or biological process." Is anaerobic digestion, a biological process, now a biomass conversion technology under this section?

SB 498 gets this one right: conversion is intended to recover usable materials from waste-sourced detritus and prepare them for return to the marketplace, consistent with the state's legal definition of Recycling. Yet if indeed Conversion equates to Recycling, what possible excuse can there be for not crediting all of the amount converted as having been deferred from landfill disposal?

Hey Rube!

Most countries define terms to their own benefit, not their detriment. As an example: in Singapore, everything goes to a set of four incinerators for production of heat and power - and with that "conversion", the country is able to claim that 60% of the 7.3 million tonnes per year of trash they generate nationally is "Recycled"; the remaining 40% is rendered to ash. 

This Week's Top Story

BDI Contracts to Expand Netherlands Multi-Waste Feedstock BioDiesel Plant

Austria based BDI - BioEnergy International AG has announced a EUR 47 million contract with Biodiesel Amsterdam (subsidiary of Simadan Holding) for expansion of a Multi-Feedstock Biodiesel Plant in the Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. 01/09/2014

The Week's News

Construction of Viridor's Anaerobic Digestion Plant in Somerset Is Complete

Construction of Viridor’s £10 million anaerobic digestion plant at Walpole Landfill near Bridgwater, Somerset in the United Kingdom is substantially complete, and is expected to be fully operational in the coming weeks. 01/10/2014

California SB 498 Redefining Biomass Conversion Referred to Committee

California Senate Bill (SB) 498 - Solid Waste: Biomass Conversion was introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D) on February 21, 2013, to revise the definition of "biomass conversion" under the California Integrated Waste Management Act. 01/10/2014

Now Accepting Applications for California Woody Biomass to Energy Projects

The Watershed Research and Training Center (WRTC) has announced that it is now accepting applications for assistance to California organizations, groups, and communities for development of wood energy projects.  01/09/2014

Konica Minolta's Singapore Beach Cleanup Waste Is Converted to Energy

Konica Minolta's employees and their families in Singapore helped clean trash from the eastern shoreline last month as part of the country's National Environmental Agency's (NEA) Seashore Life Programme. 01/08/2014

NCSU Researchers Develop Simple Method to Remove Lignin from Biomass

North Carolina State University (NCSU) has announced that its researchers have developed a simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive technique for removing lignin from the plant material used to make biofuels, which may drive down the cost of biofuel production. 01/08/2014

Air Products to Produce Food-Grade Liquid CO2 at Wisconsin Ethanol Plant

Pennsylvania based Air Products and Chemicals, Inc has announced that it will operate a facility to produce 250 tons per day (tpd) of liquid CO2 at Big River Resources’ established ethanol plant in Boyceville, Wisconsin under a long-term agreement. 01/07/2014

Metso Spins Off Energy, Pulp, and Paper Business as Valmet Corporation

Finnish based Metso Corporation has announced completion of a partial demerger, transferring all business related to the company's pulp, paper, and power business into a new entity, Valmet Corporation. 01/07/2014

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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.