A keynote panel at the US Composting Council conference this week in Orlando, Florida was given four questions:
1. What is the future of organics recovery?
2. What local policy is best or most harmful to composting?
3. Are existing bans from landfill okay?
4. Should we support additional bans on foodwaste?
The consensus appeared to be that the future of organics recovery was excellent. When reflecting on presentations given at the conference, the public appears to be driving much of the initiative and are excited that organics recovery is the right thing to do.
There was also a general consensus that a ban on organics is not a good strategy in many places, primarily because infrastructure is not in place. We need to have organics recovery facilities that are demonstrated to be safe for the environment and the workers. We need to embrace a good regulatory climate, which gives many a competitive advantage. We should strive to exceed standards where public safety is concerned. We need to do what is right for our communities.
It was interesting to hear about Walmart’s ambitious goals for waste reduction. They reported 81% waste reduction in 2011. Of the organic fraction, 50% goes for composting, 43% goes for animal feed, and 7% goes for anaerobic digestion. Their vision was that more of the organics would go to anaerobic digestion, but the process is not available in many areas. The enthusiasm and anticipation for anaerobic digestion being the answer for managing our organics was not as high at the conference this year as in the last few years.
I honor the many men and women who have had the vision for composting for many years, and have worked so hard to promote composting to recycle organics to build our soils. It is a pleasure to interact with them during the many conferences that I have attended.
This conference was good for Transform in several ways:
1. there is increasing interest in the Compost Facility Operator Manual. The second edition is already being prepared, and we have interest in translating it into Spanish.
2. we received a positive response from several of our colleagues on a new aeration concept that we have been working on
3. we have interest from Scarab Manufacturing to work on a turner for aerated windrows that are 30 ft wide and up to 12 ft high. This has the potential to reduce the active composting area of a 1000 tonne per day facility from more than 20 ha to 5 ha.
I also honor friends and colleagues who gave such a warm welcome to my wife and daughter, who joined in the reception celebrations. We are part of an industry that really cares about people. I am proud of this.