Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume VI, Issue 11, March 14, 2016
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Confessions of a Sometime-Food-Scrap-Waster: ya know, it ain’t easy to be sustainable. In a month or two, my compost system out back will be actively munching up anything I feed it. But right now, anything I put in just sits there, starts to smell, and attracts vermin and varmints. So sometimes , those kitchen food scraps go straight to the trash can and bypass my compost. No big thing, right, I mean how important could one family’s organic residuals be in the grand scheme of things? Let’s break it down, size up the problem and think about the options. There’s a whole lotta households who only contribute a small amount each, but together we continually generate quite a mountain of reclaimable rottables.

There are just two of us on our home; we eat fresh food as much as possible. That means a lot of trimmings and peelings, but much less packaging and wrappers than the average busy family generates. If you add in the green waste, the yard trimmings, most of our discarded residuals are in that ‘putrescible’ category: a little warmth and water, and it’s a microbe feast. As little as possible of our yard waste leaves the property and just sits out there in low piles until worked back into the dirt. But in the kitchen, we have maybe three to five days to do something with the scraps in the bucket under the sink. During a week we fill that gallon bucket two to three times with wet, quickly degrading kitchen scraps. That’s about five pounds a bucket, or fifteen pounds a week, sixty pounds a month, over a quarter ton a year for a two-person family unit. Whew; who knew?

Some of the rottables that go to the Materials Recovery Facility get composted, municipal green waste and food processing waste, for example. Not much can realistically be picked out of the trash, once mixed in. That goo ends up as ‘contaminant’ on the newspapers, cans, bottles, and other recyclables, which in turn lowers the quality and the marketable price. Our local waste management doesn’t charge me any more when I add fifteen gallons of wet food scraps to that 90 + gallon trash bin each week, but some municipalities make it a crime to mix food waste in with the rest of the trash; that’s certainly one way to get the public’s attention. The market’s tight for selling any recyclables lately and lower quality means some stuff won’t sell at all so off to the dump it all goes, despite all of our best intentions.

Most municipalities still simply ignore the problem; that’s probably a short-lived approach. Some areas hand out and collect smaller cans for household food scraps. Some say, Grind it and Flush it - letting the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant deal with the goo. There’s an entirely different set of solutions and problems in those less ‘civilized’ countries where common sense and some outside help builds community-scale anaerobic digesters. Everyone globally is trying to figure this one out; some methods work better than others in different parts of the world. Folks are focused on best management practices; the best we can say about broad-scale programs for recovering critical resources from food waste is: ‘We’re working on it’.

Hey Rube!

Keep an eye on southern Canada these days; lots of waste conversion and circular economy activity with our northern neighbors. There has also been some serious progress in coordinating US and Canadian management of programs that provide crucial support for waste conversion and resource recovery. Delve into the SDTC in particular, then check your own roll-a-dex and refresh your Canadian contacts.

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This Week's Top Story

Honeywell UOP Technology Powers California Commercial-Scale Biorefinery

Honeywell UOP has announced that AltAir Paramount LLC is using Honeywell UOP’s proprietary renewable jet fuel process technology to convert a variety of sustainable feedstocks into Honeywell Green Jet Fuelâ„¢ at the world’s first dedicated commercial-scale renewable jet fuel production facility. 03/11/2016

The Week's News

ReFED Releases Roadmap to Solve the Food Waste Dilemma

Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED) has created "Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste" that details 27 ways to cut food waste nationwide. 03/12/2016

InSinkErator and City of Philadelphia Pilot Reduces Food Waste to Landfill

The City of Philadelphia has completed a pilot project with InSinkErator® that demonstrated the potential of food waste disposers to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills. 03/11/2016

ESA Calls for Next Scottish Parliament to Realize Circular Economy Potential

The Scottish Environmental Services Association (ESA) has released a short Manifesto, "Making a Success of the Circular Economy", in advance of the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections. 03/10/2016

California Releases Plan to Guide the State’s Climate Change Adaptation

Following the California Governor’s executive order last year establishing an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target, the state's Natural Resources Agency released a final plan for how California will prepare for the extreme effects of climate change, including increasingly extreme weather and sea level rise. 03/10/2016

Emerson Will Automate Hitachi Zozen Inova's Energy from Waste Projects

Emerson Process Management will provide process automation technologies and services for current and future waste-to-energy projects of Hitachi Zosen Inova under a global framework agreement. 03/09/2016

Lakeshore to Hold Ribbon Cutting for New $8.5M Machinex® Recycling System

Chicago, Illinois company Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) and Closed Loop Fund have announced a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the new $8.5M Machinex® single-stream recycling system at LRS' Heartland Material Recovery Facility on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. 03/09/2016

Comet Biorefining Awarded $10.9M SDTC Grant for Bio-Based Chemicals Plant

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has awarded a grant of CA$10.9 million to Comet Biorefining, Inc for the construction of its first-of-a-kind advanced bio-based chemicals plant in Sarnia, Ontario. 03/07/2016

CRS Develops Green-e International Energy Standard and Certification

The San Francisco based nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) has announced the development of the Green-e Energy International Standard for renewable electricity. 03/07/2016

The Week's Action Items

Due 03/31/2016: Applications for Summer Internships with Biodico

Santa Barbara based Biodico, Inc is seeking up to 10 interns for the summer of 2016 in Fresno and Ventura Counties, California. 03/09/2016

Due 04/10/2016: Round 2 Proposals to DOE's Small Business Voucher Pilot

The US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded nearly $7M in Small Business Vouchers (SBVs) in Round 1. 03/12/2016

Due 05/10/2016: Proposals to NRCS for 2016 Conservation Innovation Grants

The US Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. 03/10/2016

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Featured Events:
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Recommended Reading:

 CHAGALL: The Recycling Dragon
CHAGALL: The Recycling Dragon
by Marty Strauss

Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier by Paul Relis  
Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier by Paul Relis


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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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