Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

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

Teru's Trash Talk

If you're looking for gold, it's in the trash. So is platinum, rhodium, osmium, oh-my-goshium and all the rest of those rare and precious metals; you can find 'em in the rubbish. Those precious materials are there because we throw them away, a fly-speck worth in every discarded cell phone or other electro-gadget. Granted, the quantities are small, but it doesn't take much of the stuff to sift out of a ton of trash to make the search a worthy effort.

One estimate said we should be able to extract one to two grams of mixed precious metals out of one hundred tons of trash, depending on the 'richness' of the electronic waste fraction in the incoming trash. Careful daily trash mining might produce 35 grams of bling at a big Materials Recovery Facility that processes 3,500 tons of municipal solid waste every day, not too shabby.

But that's on the bright side, and with waste there is always a Dark Side. That single solvent-soaked rag tossed into the trash with the electronic remnants may not have any great quantity of nasty stuff on it. Added to all the other high-volatiles that we've soaked up and tossed away, we've got a lot of Bad. Caution is warranted: some fraction of everything we make, buy, and use gets trashed. When we work to recover good things out of that rich mix, sooner or later we'll get some of the rest of it on our proverbial boots.

That's the beauty of trash: it's in there, whatever resource you are trying to find. And that's the problem with trash: it's all in there, every possible contaminant, poison, hazard and dose imaginable - because we throw the bad actors away with the good, mixing the precious with the problems, the diamonds with the dirt.

We know where our discarded resources go, and now with all the cool tools and nifty techniques, we also know ways to recover them. But to do so means exposure to all the waste that we don't want as well. Resource recovery carries risk; ask any hard rock miner. Careful planning is just as necessary for mining trash as it is for mining mountains. If we wait to mine trash at the MRF, we get both the risks and the rewards. But unlike the hard-rock mining, we can claim precious resources before the goods enter that mixed flow.

We can practice Source Separation and Recovery, and dramatically reduce the risk of the Unknown. We can collect no-longer-wanted goods before the materials are mixed in with the rest of the trash, and short-cut the mining process. We can extend this source separation and recovery method to all types of discards, not just urban, but from agriculture, forestry, and even marine operations. To assess the economics of this new discard-mining infrastructure, compare the cost of intercepting at the source to the cost of picking through the rich but risky mountains at the MRF.

Hey Rube!

Recycling has long been a process where we pick identifiable goodies out of the mixed waste and returning them to use. This week's news shows a shift in that focus toward the odd stuff, the residues, the left-overs after the cans and bottles are high-graded. Remanufacturing ingenuity produces new goods from old residues, the very definition of a circular economy. We are moving past the challenges of aggregation, extraction and conversion to that last remanufacturing stage. Once we have the myriad 'specs' for this new Making, we're good to go.

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The Week's Top Story

Fetzer Vineyards to Use Worms and Microbes to Treat Winery Wastewater

California based Fetzer Vineyards, in a move to change the way US wineries conserve water, has announced that it will install the BioFiltro BIDA® System at its Mendocino winery. 04/10/2016

The Week's News

CalRecycle to Consider Organics Grant Program Criteria at Monthly Meeting

At its next public meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) will consider proposed eligibility, scoring, and evaluation process criteria for the Organics Grant Program 2016-2017 as announced last month. 04/08/2016

J.R. Simplot Will Distribute Cool Planet's Biocarbon Agricultural Product in US

Cool Planet has announced that the J.R. Simplot Company will serve as a distributor for Cool Terra throughout the Western United States and portions of the Midwest in agriculture, turf, nursery, and landscape markets. 04/08/2016

New Waste-to-Energy Plant in Tennessee Will Use CETI Power Technology

California based Clean Energy Technologies, Inc (CETI) has announced a waste-to-energy system under construction in Tennessee that will provide renewable electricity from waste material to a municipal waste water treatment plant. 04/07/2016

DOE Schedules Webinar on How Feedstock Type Affects Biofuels Conversion

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has scheduled a webinar in honor of Earth Week about its Bioenergy Technology Office's (BETO) Field-to-Fleet project and its outcomes to date on Wednesday, April 20, 1–2 p.m. Eastern Time. 04/07/2016

Green Biologics Selects Nexeo Solutions as its US Distribution Partner

Green Biologics, Inc, the US subsidiary of United Kingdom (UK) based Green Biologics Ltd, has announced a distribution agreement with Nexeo Solutions, a Texas (U.S.) based distribution company. 04/07/2016

Orineo Voted 'Bio-Based Material of the Year 2016' By Industry Peers

Belgium company Orineo was awarded the prestigious Bio-based Material of the Year 2016 for its bio-based Touch of Nature® materials at the 9th International Conference on Bio-based Materials in Cologne, Germany. 04/07/2016

Therma-Flite Provides Biosolids Drying System to Wisconsin Cities

Texas based Therma-Flite has been awarded a contract to provide a biosolids drying system for a Wisconsin sewerage commission representing a joint effort by two cities to upgrade from Class B, to Class A biosolids of exceptional quality (EQ). 04/06/2016

Covanta ES Acquires Material Processing Facility in Augusta, Georgia

Covanta has announced that its subsidiary, Covanta Environmental Solutions (Covanta ES), has acquired a material processing facility in Augusta, Georgia from US Ecology, Inc. 04/06/2016

Air Canada Joins CBSCI to Introduce Sustainable Aviation Biofuel to Airport

Air Canada has announced that it will participate in Canada's Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI) and introduce 400,000 litres of sustainable aviation biofuel (biojet) into a shared fuel system at a Canadian airport. 04/06/2016

Air Products Will Exit Energy-from-Waste Business and Tees Valley Projects

Air Products (NYSE: APD) has announced that the Company will exit its Energy-from-Waste (EfW) business and focus on its core Industrial Gas business. 04/05/2016

The Week's Action Items

Due 04/22/2016: Comments to CARB on Draft Emissions Calculator, Methods

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has published a Draft Quantification Methodology (QM) and Draft GHG Emissions Reduction Calculator for assessing FY 2015-16 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) applications. 04/08/2016

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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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