Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 23, June 9, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk  

Is it still "waste" if someone is willing to pay you for it and you don't have throw it away? Well, as with everything else, it's really not that simple. Remember, Waste is regulated by the government.


Let's say it costs you a hundred bucks a ton to get rid of the left-over grit from your business operations. Your good buddy can put that crud in concrete as filler, but he can't risk getting caught using an unapproved material. He tries it out in a small batch or two, and hey! That concrete still works just fine, and he doesn't have to buy as much gravel. He pays you a few bucks a ton, scoops it up and hauls it to his batch plant. Did he use a Waste or a by-product of another industrial process? It depends.


Concrete chemically binds many kinds of otherwise-bothersome materials, keeping them from causing further environmental degradation. But if the product doesn't stand up to testing, there's this old federal law that says the two of you have just faked it with a "use constituting disposal." If there were no hazardous elements in that grit you sold him, fine - but if it doesn't pass muster, he's also transported a hazardous waste without proper permits. Ah! Now we are onto something: you have to meet the specifications for the intended use, and you can't jeopardize others, at least not without some agency's approval.

Waste, or not waste: let's think about what that means to "waste conversion technologies." Forget for the moment the debate over systems purported to convert everything back into heat and power, and concentrate on systems that can accomplish molecular-level recovery of resources. Consider biogas from anaerobic digestion of sorted food waste, and synthetic fuel from gasification of wood or plastics.

If a technology is designed to convert a specified fraction of waste for resource recovery, it should not matter if that to-spec feedstock was sourced from stuff others discarded. The process of segregation of fractions of MSW to market specification is recycling. Once that stuff is "to-spec" it should not be considered a waste, and anything you do with it from there on out should no longer be considered "waste processing".

The real goal is to find clean ways to convert anything discarded, back into new resources - to Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Recover everything that gets tossed aside - to eliminate the very concept of waste. The convoluted and self-contradictory language that regulates recovery of refuse derived resources are supposedly intended as a safety-net for the public and the environment. Waste conversion project developers should be able to abide by the Rules of the Road without getting a regulatory red light.

Hey Rube!

Many of the projects we are watching have been under development for over a decade. It shouldn't take that long. Beat regulatory language back into common sense. Pay little attention to the nay-sayers who claim It Can't Be Done. They are only right until they are wrong, until the global Circular Economy adopts at its core premise the recovery of resources from secondary materials, and that there really is no such thing as waste.

This Week's Top Story

Enerkem Launches 1st Commercial MSW-To-Biofuels And Chemicals Facility

Canada based Enerkem has announced the inauguration of its first full-scale waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility in Edmonton, Alberta.  06/05/2014

The Week's News

WBA Report Says 14% of Global Energy Comes from Bioenergy

The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) has released WBA Global Bioenergy Statistics 2014, the first report on this subject from the organization, at the World Bioenergy 2014 conference held on June 3-5, 2014 in Jönköping, Sweden. 06/06/2014

SEER Provides H2S Reduction System for Pixley Biogas Project

Colorado-based Strategic Environmental & Energy Resources, Inc (SEER) has announced that its subsidiary MV Technologies will supply its H2SPlus™ technology for removal of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) at the Pixley Biogas anaerobic digestion facility in California. 06/06/2014

Déinove and SUEZ Start Urban Organic Waste to Fuel R&D Program

France based Déinove SA and SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Group have announced entering into an agreement to start a two year pilot waste to fuel research and development (R&D) program. 06/05/2014

Renewable Energy Group Completes Syntroleum Acquisition

Renewable Energy Group, Inc has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC, has completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Syntroleum Corporation, which was announced in December 2013. 06/03/2014

High-Octane Gasoline Successfully Produced from Woody Biomass

The Illinois-based non-profit Gas Technology Institute (GTI) has announced successful completion of another key stage in its highly collaborative biomass to liquid fuel pilot research and demonstration program with Haldor Topsoe. 06/03/2014

Plevin's £5m Waste Wood Recovery Plant Set to Open in South Yorkshire

United Kingdom (UK) based R. Plevin & Sons Ltd has announced that it is in the final stages of commissioning its £5 million waste wood recovery facility in Hazelhead, South Yorkshire, with full operations at the site expected to start in the coming weeks. 06/02/2014

CEC Schedules June 17th Workshop on Grant Process for EPIC Funds

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced a workshop scheduled for the afternoon of June 17, 2014 to discuss the up-coming grant solicitation under the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which was adopted by the CEC in April. 06/02/2014

Wood Waste Biofuel Could Boost Shipping Industry Sustainability

Aston University scientists are involved in the ReShip Project, which will use low quality wood waste, chippings, and unmerchantable wood left in forests after logging has occurred to produce new biofuels. 06/02/2014

The Week's Action Items

Due 07/31/2014: Applications to CalRecycle for GHG Reduction Grants

The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has released a Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) for the 2014 / 2015 grant cycle for the Recycled Fiber, Plastic, and Glass (FPG) Grant Program. $5,000,000 is available for this funding cycle. 06/06/2014

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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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