VOL. 2, NO. 36  |  September 22, 2021
A Dose Of PFAS Reality
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just released a well-written and well-researched document about the presence of perfluorinated compounds (and select pesticides and other organics) in food waste (US EPA, 2021). It includes consideration of the fate of these compounds in compost and digestates. It summarizes much of the current knowledge and provides recommendations. These include placing limits on these compounds in composts and digestates and/or limiting the use of these materials because of their PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances) content. “A valuable resource” may be your first reaction. For me it was resisting the temptation to rant and rave at the authors from the comfort of my PFAS treated sofa.

Best to start with a brief review for those of you who haven’t been immersed in PFAS for the last few years. It turns out that if you add fluorine to carbon you can make a slew of compounds that can be very useful. These compounds make things resistant to grease, oil, heat and water. That means that you’ll find them in a wide range of products including food packaging (pizza boxes, take-out containers, nonstick cookware, popcorn bags, etc.) and consumer products. Examples of consumer products include stain resistant furniture and carpeting, clothing, rain gear, dental floss, and cosmetics. These compounds have been around for many, many decades. They have only recently (last two decades) made the transition from “useful” to highly hazardous.

So many uses for these compounds means that everyone has been exposed to them. They are in our homes. Quite often, they are in our drinking water. They are also in us. PFAS compounds have been detected in blood (100% of individuals sampled) and in breast milk (Olsen et al., 2017; Zheng et al., 2021).   You can even find the stuff in beluga whales swimming in the northern reaches of the Canadian Arctic (Kelly et al., 2009).

While this stuff may be handy in your carpet, I for one don’t relish the thought of it being in my blood. I’m sure the whales aren’t too happy about it either. The question then becomes “What is the best way to get PFAS out of the environment?”
Using Compost In Storm Water Infrastructure Retrofits

Nora Goldstein
The Soils For Salmon program, initiated in 1999 by the Washington Organic Recycling Council and Snohomish County, was designed to address the harmful impacts of storm water runoff on salmon habitat, primarily into streams that feed into the Puget Sound in western Washington. The streams serve as spawning grounds for the salmon. The sediment, pollutants, and temperature of surface runoff were endangering salmon and other aquatic species. BioCycle documented the research and initiatives that evolved out of the Soils for Salmon program — one of the first to connect use of compost in amending soils and in biofiltration media as an effective remediation and pollution prevention tool.

While methods that incorporate compost for storm water management and filtration have been proven successful, an ongoing challenge is finding locations in urban areas to install biofiltration infrastructure in a practical and economical manner. Several years ago, storm water managers at the City of Bellevue and researchers at Washington State University (WSU) undertook a study to address that challenge.

Food Scraps Drop-Off Dumpster
So much of the equipment used to recycle organics has its origins in other industrial sectors, including aggregates (mining and gravel), agriculture and salvage. A more recent introduction comes from SAS Forks in Luxemburg, Wisconsin, which manufacturers wheel loader dumpsters originally designed for auto salvage operations.

Ireland’s Bioeconomy Summit

The inaugural All Island National Bioeconomy Summit, October 18-22, 2021, celebrates Ireland’s growing bioeconomy. Organized by the Green Institute and supported by the Small Firms Association & Irish Bioeconomy Foundation, the virtual Summit “comes at a pivotal time for the sector and will create much debate and be thought provoking,” notes Percy Foster, founder of the Green Institute …

Webinar To Highlight Codigestion Best Practices

The number of facilities in the U.S. practicing codigestion has definitely been on the rise, driven by policy changes that have set strong targets for food waste diversion and renewable energy generation (biogas).
Can Composting Reduce THC Levels In Discarded Marijuana Products?
Mark A. King and Carla J. Hopkins
Replicated trials evaluated composting as management tool to degrade and/or deactivate Tetrahydrocannabinol levels in marijuana to <0.3% — the level below which the material is not regulated as a controlled substance.
Compost Markets In The U.S.
Nora Goldstein
A 1993 BioCycle article, “Compost Supply And Demand,” calculated estimates for compost production and market demand in the U.S. Do we know where markets stand today?
Founding Publisher
Jerome Goldstein

Nora Goldstein

Senior Business Advisor
Rill Ann Goldstein Miller

Associate Publisher
Ina Pincus

Creative Director
Doug Pinkerton
Senior Editor
Craig Coker

Senior Editorial Advisor
Sally Brown

Contributing Editors
Ana Carvalho, Michael H. Levin,
Maile Lono-Batura, Robert Spencer
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