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Old 12-10-2009, 09:51 PM   #1
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Default Not Your Grandma’s Compost

Not Your Grandma’s Compost
In-vessel Composting Offers Great Green Promise
By Brian Clark Howard

Not Your Grandma’s Compost : In-vessel Composting Offers Great Green Promise (By Brian Clark Howard)
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While Smith-Sebasto was a professor at Montclair State University, he diverted 60,000 pounds of the college’s food waste from landfills. The scraps were mixed with wood chips (to extract moisture and provide carbon) donated from a local cabinetmaker. The unit slowly rotates and heats the material to 135 degrees. It can process about 500 pounds of food residue a day, for less than $2 in electricity.
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If all of the food waste generated each year in the U.S. were composted instead of landfilled, the resultant reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would be equal to taking 6 million cars off the road, he says. Plus, when organic waste is dumped in a landfill, it breaks down slowly through anaerobic decay. That releases methane, which is 25 times more potent than CO2.
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:28 AM   #2
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I couldn't tell from the article how long the process took, so I looked around a little. This one's from the university's website. Compost in 3 days is incredible. http://www.montclair.edu/news/articl...9&ChannelID=28

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The mixture reaches a temperature of around 130 degrees Fahrenheit for several days, so it is odor-free, Smith-Sebasto explains. The material is rotated slowly (four times an hour, four times each day) to help break down the food residue, and three days later, it is completely broken down into usable material that is used to fertilize green spaces on campus.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:30 AM   #3
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The great thing about this way of composting is how all the food scraps can be incorporated. Food in garbage and landfills is part of the problem with over-populations of some urban wildlife. Humane animal conflict with gulls, rats and raccoons,even bears in some regions are largely due to animals learning to forage our garbage. It would be great to quickly and odorlessly decompose food waste. Then there is that great by product, compost.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:47 AM   #4
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There is a drawback to in-vessel composting: Initial costs run to tens of thousands of dollars. The system at Montclair State was set up with a grant. Still, according to BioCycle magazine, large-scale food composting projects nearly doubled between 2000 and 2007, from 138 to 267.
The U.S. already pays $1 billion a year to deal with food waste.
What if that revenue could be used for smarter composting, creating green jobs in the process?
Once running, Smith-Sebasto’s system processes waste at a rate per ton as low as $1, much lower than even the cheapest landfill tipping fees in the Heartland.
Show the value and capitalists will come running...gloria
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Old 12-12-2009, 01:37 PM   #5
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the methane can be used to heat the composters, so there's no net load on the petroleum in the ground.. We'll never get away from having an impact on the biosphere - there are no true islands, after all. But I wonder how the compostumblers are heated - and once the process begins, since composting is exothermic, is external heating required? If it isn't, is there a way to "dose" the compostumbler so the reaction starts quickly, after which time sunlight &/or insulation might decrease the need for further thermal encouragement?
No matter how I look at it, the concept is exciting.
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Old 12-12-2009, 05:36 PM   #6
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Too bad this idea isn't catching on but then again... there's no reason for it to catch on. Restaurant owners would have to be sold on the concept and that would have to include an incentive. I don't think that's going to happen since I don't know any being charged by the weight of what's being hauled off but by the dumpster... and the cost of a dumpster isn't outrageous enough to warrant investment in a more environmentally responsible way of dealing with food scraps. Let's face it, it's cheaper for them to let the trucks haul it off and they don't need to allocate any employee time to a composting system... which way do we think they'll go... to the curb with it. Now... if they were being charged based on the weight of the garbage being hauled off... then maybe they'd show some interest but... then somebody would have to be able to make money off of selling these. I think we'd need to show them how to use these systems to cut overhead before any of them will do what's right. Landfills are out of sight and out of mind to these people... what they don't see they don't let stand in the way of business as usual. I lived where they would leave your garbage on the curb if you were lazy and didn't separate out the recyclables. Getting stuck with garbage might motivate them but then that would require policy changes and they'd all start crying poor and how the evil environmentalists are trying to put them out of business.
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Old 12-12-2009, 05:59 PM   #7
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It might be a good fit for large, food-serving institutions like universities, hospitals or prisons.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:25 AM   #8
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You'd be surprised how many of the younger crowd are willing to do a little extra work to save the planet, when given the opportunity.

One of the local Starbucks seems to have adopted me. I visited several of them to try to get coffee grounds for my community garden, but I started in the spring when there were many people zipping in to pick them up. I tried again lately, and at one particular store, they didn't have any for 3 trips in a row. I stopped making the trip to that town. They called me one day and said they had a trash bag full for me. Now they not only save me the one pretty foil container each store is given, they save the rest in a trash bag for me. They have offered to come and help me with a project in the garden, and have even spoken to a fast food place nearby and they have employees willing to help too. Just waiting for spring to ask them to come over and help!

The twenty-somethings don't seem to have that ingrained resistance to tree-hugging that our generation has.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:46 PM   #9
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I have noticed that too, biigblueyes. Even 20-somethings whose politics might lead me to expect them to be anti-treehugger have surprised me with their openess to environmental issues. But sometimes it seems to be the case that their interest is local and not global; they treasure the Chesapeake but don't necessarily believe in global warming, for instance. But I say that local is a darned good start.
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:08 AM   #10
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What do you think of the west coast laws going into effect about food waste?

Food Recycling Law A Hit In San Francisco : NPR

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Correction
We reported that San Francisco's new city law requiring residents to compost food waste is
the first program of its kind in the nation.
Seattle was actually the first city to require all households to compost food waste.
The Seattle law went into effect last April, but Seattle exempts businesses, restaurants and apartment buildings from the law.
San Francisco is the first to mandate that all residents,
plus businesses, restaurants and multidwelling units like apartment houses compost waste
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MN09183NV8.DTL
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The legislation calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...#ixzz0ZgFDtBVC
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