Moving from Demonstration to Scale: Scaling Up Composting Infrastructure

 Composting system underneath the Queensborough Bridge in New York City

Composting system underneath the Queensborough Bridge in New York City

A growing number of cities and towns are adding both residential and commercial sector food waste collection. In parallel to regulatory trends and consumer demand, there’s a need for more infrastructure.

For many areas, it is challenging to see where to start when building new infrastructure. One option can be to start with a demonstration site and build from there. The GORE® Covers are an example of infrastructure that can be built and scaled in a modular fashion.

The diagram below shows the basic inputs/outputs of food waste and woodchips, which are placed under the cover to produce compost.  The covers are designed to trap moisture and odors and help accelerate the composting process with the aid of an in-floor aeration process over an 8 week period.

Several areas where space may be available for demonstrations include:

  • Wastewater treatment facilities

  • Recycling Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)

  • Landfills

  • Parking Lots

Starting with Demonstration Scale: Less than 1 Acre

According to the principals at Sustainable Generation, Authorized GORE® Cover Sales and Service Provider for North America, sites as small as 50 X 100 feet can be considered for a demonstration. It is recommended that sites are larger than 1 acre so that there is an opportunity to expand. Using a 50 x 100 feet pad, the company can process 100 tons over 8 weeks. This 8-week demonstration phase provides time to test receiving the organic waste feedstock supply, learning how to compost and comply and finding end markets prior to building a full-scale facility.  This mitigates technology risks as well as conserves capital expenditures.

Users have the option of whether or not to continue operations after 8 weeks. The pilot period can be paid for via a leasing arrangement, something that is atypical in the world of organics processing, thus allowing the project to get started.

 

While the technology works anywhere, the economics of these systems are most favorable in areas with “above $40 per ton tip fees and secured markets for compost products.”

 

Case Study - Prince George’s County, Maryland: From Demonstration to Expansion

 Prince  George’s County Composting Site. Mobile systems expanded the facility capacity in a modular fashion.

Prince  George’s County Composting Site. Mobile systems expanded the facility capacity in a modular fashion.

In 2013, Prince Georges County implemented an SG Mobile™ System with Gore Covers (covered aerated static pile) as a way to test mixing in a food waste input with yard “green” waste composting. The system expanded in a modular fashion starting with 3 mobile systems that process 250 tons every 8 weeks. The County expanded the system to receiving 12,000 tons per year in year which currently on a ½ acre pad. The Prince George’s County Western Branch is now expanding the facility to 57,000 tons per year.

To make compost systems move to the demonstration to scale, some items to consider are:

  • Taking into account savings on hauling and disposal costs by keeping facilities closer to the point of generation.
  • Building robust markets for compost, particularly in areas with low tip fees. To support the market, Global Green recommends looking into policy tools used by sectors such as solar for end market development, such as long-term purchase agreements.

To learn more about starting or scaling up organics diversion in your location, please contact us at [email protected]


Matt de la Houssaye