Recycling Product News Logo

This ad will close in 15 seconds

Municipalities need to help to keep up with demand for composting according to USCC

We are All Community Composters: time to stop kicking the can down the road

Municipalities need to help to keep up with demand for composting according to USCC

Company info

5400 Grosvenor Lane
Bethesda, MD
US, 20814


Phone number:

Read more

Some US Composting Council (USCC) members and staff have been on conference panels with our colleagues in the traditional recycling industry during the past year, and we've heard some harrowing tales. Tales are circulating of the cancellation of glass programs, the suspension of curbside recycling contracts, and of the costly retooling of materials recovery facilities to integrate increasingly complex sortation lines in order to meet the requirements of foreign markets to accept recyclable materials.

Creating local markets for recycled materials is not an easy task, and we in the composting industry empathize. Composting is fortunate in its place as a local microcosm of any community's circular economy. But we certainly are not smug about it.

So why is composting "local" by definition? A variety of markets exist in every community - from stormwater, erosion control and highway construction projects, to farms and brownfield sites, to golf courses, corporate campuses and sports stadiums and fields. These end users keep composters busy with sales and marketing in their local region. Compost is a recyclable material that demonstrates the circular economy right in its own market - by using a community's discarded organic materials and quickly providing them back to the community in useful forms.

Also, the economic barrier to entry for the compost industry can be easier to overcome than in the capital-intensive traditional recycling industry. In composting, there is a larger pool of potential entrepreneurs already trained in soil science, landscape construction and nursery operation, and the feedstock is readily available. A smart businessperson can work hard to engineer viable markets for compost end-product, which with consistent nurturing will respond better than markets for a well-manufactured recycled product.

This all assumes the entrepreneur, launching or diversifying an existing business into composting, is well trained - through the Compost Council Research & Education Foundation or a university-led course emphasizing proper operation - and is working towards certification of their managers, and their product, to demonstrate their knowledge to skeptical neighbours and regulators.  

But being local does not inherently guarantee success. The infrastructure gaps that we are all working hard to solve in the compost industry - primarily in the southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest U.S. - wouldn't be a problem if local markets were the entire solution. Low landfill tipping fees, outdated zoning codes and state regulations can provide a barrier to entry for the industry, even when entrepreneurs are ready to move. 

Frank Franciosi, speaking at USCC's annual event, in January 2018.

Addressing the infrastructure gap
About a year ago we wrote about the launching of one of the compost industry's efforts to address this infrastructure gap: the update of the Model Rule Template used by numerous states to bring their permitting regulations up to date. We continue with that effort - which is about a quarter of the way complete - and are marching on with outreach to speak to counties and cities about zoning with our Target Organics! project.

While these projects are underway, it's still hard for the industry to keep up with demand from the generators of organics. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency's most recent Food Waste Characterization report showed 26 percent of food waste coming from restaurants, 8 percent from institutions and 10 percent from the grocery sector. Households, which are generally high in compost contamination and are most often addressed by municipal programs, accounted for 52 percent.It makes sense for the compost industry, charged with making a quality product that can be used by communities, to focus first on the non-residential generators, from which we can expect a more homogenous feedstock. 

• According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, out of 753 U.S. college programs, 351 campuses self-identified that they are composting, for a total of 172,159 tons per year, an average of 491 annual tons per campus. 

Colleges, led by campuses such as the University of Arizona, often find themselves serving not only their own community, but providing a service to their neighbouring municipality - with the possibility of providing students with real job experience and enhancing campus revenue streams at the same time. Addressing the growing demand for more programs and expansion in the college campus sector is something we are working on addressing with resources and training in the coming year. There will be an entire educational track filled with collegiate compost experts at COMPOST2019 in January.

• The National Restaurant Association's 2018 State of Restaurant Sustainability Report had restaurants naming food waste reduction as the #4 top trend, with environmental sustainability as #6, according to spokesman Jeff Clark. Both of those numbers are up from previously, he said.

• Small and medium scale community composting also continues to grow as an infrastructure solution. The Cultivating Community Composting track at USCC's 2018 Atlanta conference brought more of these entrepreneurs together than ever, and partnerships are increasing between the "micro-haulers" and urban composters, and the more traditional commercial composting sector. 

• Increasingly, institutional generators of organics waste are becoming compost leaders in their own right. The Philadelphia Department of Prisons program is a model not only in the detention centre sector, but has been a sought-after information source for the compost industry. 

Local circular economies are developing at a fast pace in compost manufacturing and organics collection. But municipalities need to help move the process along by updating codes and requirements in their own back yards. Urban planners and city departments of resiliency need to carve out a space for organic transfer stations, drop-off centres and for compost manufacturing facilities. There's no time like the present to plan for the future. Let's stop kicking the can down the road.

Frank Franciosi is executive director of the US Composting Council (USCC) which holds its annual conference, COMPOST2019, January 28-31 in Phoenix, Arizona.

This article was originally published in the November/December 2018 edition of Recycling Product News, Volume 26, Number 8.

More from Industry News

LBX raises $51K for American Heart Association

LBX Company LLC raised $51,000 in support of the American Heart Association's (AHA) annual "Life is Why We Give campaign. LBX made a commitment to donate $500 for every Link-Belt excavator, forestry machine or material handler retailed in February in North America. This is the third year that LBX has participated as a national supporter of the campaign. LBX has committed to support this program through 2021.

Carlos Monreal of Plastics Energy first president of Chemical Recycling Europe

At the end of January Chemical Recycling Europe was created as a non-profit organization with the vision of establishing an industry platform for developing and promoting cutting-edge chemical recycling technologies for polymer waste across Europe. The new association aims to deepen collaboration with EU Institutions and develop positive industry-wide relationships throughout the whole chemical recycling value chains in Europe in order to boost specific polymer recycling. According to the new organization, chemical recycling of polymers in Europe will need to develop in order to reach the high level of expectations from the EU politicians.

CPIA reinforces importance of ending plastic waste in the environment

According to the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) the global plastics industry agrees that plastic and other packaging waste does not belong in the environment. One recent step toward solving the problem is the historic formation of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a non-profit organization composed of chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies that has committed $1.5 billion over the next 5 years to collect and manage waste and increase recycling especially in developing countries where most of the waste is coming from. 

EuPC and IK organize 2019 conference “A Circular Future with Plastics”

IK, Industrievereinignung Kunststoffverpackungen, the German association for plastic packaging, and EuPC, European Plastics Converters, are organising together the 2019 edition of the conference A Circular Future with Plastics. The two associations, representing plastics converters both at national and European level, will bring together over 200 participants from across Europe, who will work together during two days of conferences, debates and networking opportunities.

Optical sorting, robotics and AI to drive MRF market towards $251.7 million by 2022 according to latest analysis

With China's National Sword regulation imposing restrictions on the import of solid wastes, US single-stream recycling material recovery facilities (MRFs) are left with few options for processing their vast quantities of recycling materials. The technology and capabilities gap between the advanced foreign facilities and the domestic facilities are compelling the latter to make strategic investment decisions regarding processing equipment. While operations and business models will undergo major changes, it is processing technologies such as optical sorting, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will drive the $185.2 million market towards $251.7 million by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.3 percent. 

​Global Recycling Day: a time to celebrate innovation in textile recycling

The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) Association is celebrating Global Recycling Day on March 18, organized by the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), by raising awareness of the future of textile recycling. The annual event is a time to change the mind-set of governments, businesses, communities and individuals around the world to see recyclables as a resource - not waste. A focus of BIR for Global Recycling Day in 2019 is innovation in ensuring a brighter future for the planet. 

ISRI adopts first comprehensive Transportation Policy

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Board of Directors recently passed a transportation policy to recognize and address the challenges of transporting scrap materials to the scrapyards and to the customer in a timely, and cost efficient way. Unfortunately, according to ISRI, the industry and others are experiencing severe truck shortages, rail service problems and increased costs, and inconsistent service on ocean shipping as less ships are being utilized globally. Additionally, the industry has seen labor issues that have snarled West Coast ports. This is the first time the organization has developed such a comprehensive transportation policy.


Get our newsletter

Learn more

India announces plastic waste import ban

The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has amended the country's Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules to include a prohibition of solid plastic waste import into the country. According to a statement from the Indian government, the move, announced March 6th, was enacted "In order to strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country."

Jerry Simms to receive ISRI's 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the recycling industry, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) will award its 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award to Jerry Simms of Atlas Metal & Iron Corp. of Denver (shown left). Simms' career in the recycling industry spanned more than four decades, during which he successfully led a number of key regulatory and legislative victories for the industry through his involvement with ISRI.

Terex announces new £12m manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland

Terex has announced a new manufacturing facility for its materials processing range  in Derry, Northern Ireland, at an investment of £12 million. The new 105,000 square foot manufacturing facility will focus on the design, manufacture and development of Terex Ecotec (waste management and recycling) and Terex Conveying Systems (TCS) (mobile conveying) product lines.

Canada Fibers​ and Enviroplast form strategic partnership to recycle plastic film

Canada Fibers Ltd. (CFL) and Enviroplast are entering into an exclusive supply agreement to recover and recycle plastic film. According to CFL, the strategic partnership between the two industry leaders is a game changer as the requirement for more Canadian-based plastic recycling solutions has increased following the implementation of China's National Sword policy in 2018 which banned imports of 24 types of waste material, including plastic film.

Screen Machine acquires DiamondZ

Effective March 1, 2019,Screen Machine Industries, LLC has become the parent company of Diamond Z . According to the two companies, this will create a strong partnership of two material processing pros - Screen Machine in crushing and screening, Diamond Z in chipping and grinding. Together, both companies will be able to service the growing need for mobile equipment across a number of industries.


Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

Circular Polymers new facility to supply chemical recycling industry

In a major advance for industry and the circular economy, a team of recycling industry veterans have formed a new company, Circular Polymers, to supply the chemical recycling industry with consistent, high quality feedstock made from post-consumer carpet and other plastic destined for landfill. Circular Polymers' new facility in Lincoln, California will process some 30 million pounds of carpet per year, with plans to expand further.

Wastequip to acquire collection truck and hoist manufacturer Amrep

Wastequip, the manufacturer of waste handling equipment, has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Amrep, a leading refuse body and hoist manufacturer.  A family-owned business based in Ontario, Calif. with additional facilities in Salisbury, N.C.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Pacific, Wash. and Sacramento, Calif., Amrep was founded in 1976 and has become a well-recognized brand in the West Coast market.

​ISRI announces 2019 Advocacy Agenda following significant achievements in 2018

Despite a year filled with political gridlock and uncertainty in U.S. politics, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) achieved a number of important victories benefiting recyclers in 2018. According to the organization, this sets the stage for the organization's 2019 Advocacy Agenda, which recognizes new challenges and opportunities in the industry at the local, state, federal, and international levels related to Market Development & Economic Opportunity, International Trade, Energy and the Environment, Transportation & Infrastructure Development, Workplace Safety Initiatives, Workforce & Immigration Issues, and Regulatory Policy.

GTI quantifies opportunity to produce low-carbon Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from wood wastes

Today, GTI has released a site-specific engineering design titled Low-Carbon Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from Wood Wastes. GTI led a team of engineers and scientists to produce a "blueprint" for converting an existing biomass facility into an RNG production site, using the wood waste feedstock and some of the existing infrastructure. A biomass power plant in Stockton, California, was the host site for the engineering design effort. In addition to providing data about the process technologies, the integrated plant, and production costs, the study highlights the many environmental benefits and the low-carbon fuel produced. 


Get our newsletter

Learn more

LEED changes a boost for C&D

Construction and demolition (C&D) materials are hefty. It is why we can so effectively build roads, bridges and buildings out of them. It's also why, by weight, they are the most significant material in the North American waste stream. This creates a challenge for recycling, as it's usually too expensive, in terms of ROI, to ship most recovered C&D end products, including wood, concrete, drywall, asphalt, and asphalt shingles.

International law enforcement recognizes recyclers as partners in effort to reduce metals theft

As a sign of both the need to reduce metal theft, and its strong working relationship with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and other recyclers, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recently passed a resolution calling on law enforcement agencies to recognize recyclers as partners, use tools such as, and utilize resources developed by ISRI. 

SWANA announces 2019 award winners

The Technical Divisions of the Solid Waste Association of North America's (SWANA) have voted to recognize two outstanding members and a company for achievement, volunteer efforts and leadership in 2019.  Distinguished Individual Achievement Awards are being presented to Michelle Leonard and Ivan Cooper.  Interior Removal Specialists Inc. will receive the Sustainable Materials Management Award.

Balcones Resources celebrates 25 years in business

Balcones Resources celebrated its 25th anniversary in business this month, growing from a small Austin-based paper recycler to a comprehensive environmental services company with facilities in Austin, Dallas and Little Rock. Balcones marked the milestone with a reception featuring a presentation of $25,000 in total donations to five Austin-area environmental organizations: EcoRise, Hill Country Conservancy, Keep Austin Beautiful, Shoal Creek Conservancy and Waller Creek Conservancy.

Global Recycling Foundation calls on the world to combat climate change by championing recycling

The landmark agreement announced at COP24 in December 2018 has seen governments around the world agree to a robust set of guidelines for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. This represents a major step forward in the battle to tackle climate change but time is also running out to ensure concrete change. The Global Recycling Foundation urges the recycling industry to take heed to the COP24 agreement and continue to play its frontline role in preserving the planet's resources and improving the circular economy. It is also calling on recycling businesses and organizations across the globe to impress on their local communities, municipalities and governments to take action now, before it is too late.

Hyde acquires slitting knives line from Thurston Manufacturing

Hyde Industrial Blade Solutions (IBS), a division of Hyde Tools, Inc., has announced the acquisition of the square edge slitting knives line from Thurston Manufacturing of Smithfield, RI. The purchase covers the product line and machinery to service existing Thurston customers and provide Hyde customers with better access to this line of knives used for cutting of thin sheet metal, paper, cloth, fabric and rubber.


Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more