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Managing Organics - We Can Do Better!

Through NERC's "Best Management Practices for Organics & Debris Management in Rural Towns in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont" we are providing webinars, workshops, resources, and technical assistance. This article is the start of an ongoing blog series about organics management.

Introduction

In 1960, Compost Science, now BioCycle began publication. Its founder, Jerome Goldstein stated in the inaugural issue's editorial: "We are thoroughly convinced that there is a need to conserve this country's as well as the world's natural resources. We believe that converting municipal and industry organic wastes into useful products would be an effective step forward in a long-range conservation program." More than 50 years later, organic materials continue to be undervalued as a resource in this country.

St. Georges Maine

St. George, Maine

Discarding…

Steps toward Zero Waste for Contractors and Builders, Part 4

This article addresses hazardous materials that may be encountered in salvaging or deconstruction, as well as planning for reuse and recycling. It continues our blog series on laying out a "roadmap" for builders and contractors on moving towards zero waste for construction and demolition projects. Zero waste is a path that can lead to savings and profit.

Zero waste does not actually mean "zero waste," as some think. Instead it is a goal and en route to that goal, great change and value can be achieved. And, contractors can realize cost reductions by following this path. Zero waste in construction and remodeling projects focuses on looking for opportunities:

  • Generating less waste by using materials more efficiently – saves money;
  • Reusing materials on site, or selling or donating them to someone else for reuse – cost containment, potential revenues or tax benefits; and
  • Recycling whenever possible – might save you money and could even bring in revenue.

Zero waste in construction and remodeling is a win-win proposition, and not as hard to do as you might think.

Hazardous Materials

When considering…

Use the Reuse Marketplace for Getting Rid of Unwanted & Surplus Items

Many workplaces are faced with the problem of what to do with unwanted and surplus items. Oftentimes, the common solution is to get rid of them by throwing them out. This method is an immediate solution, but costly. To address this problem, a regional materials exchange was developed by the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. (NERC)—the Reuse Marketplace www.reusemarketplace.org

The Reuse Marketplace is a free-to-use website where reusable items are posted for sale or for the taking. The site provides a means of trading reusable items for businesses, government, non-profits, and institutions within the participant seven states (CT, DE, MA, NJ, NY, RI, & VT). Anyone is welcome to use the site for browsing…

More thoughts about Spring, Special Events, and Composting

The next installment on special event composting includes setting up the "compost team" and event publicity, along with examples of special event composting in action.

The compost team

An essential key to successful composting is active monitoring of the green stations.

One monitor per station ensures that:

  • Attendees are educated, not frustrated!
  • Contamination of collected materials is reduced.
  • The need to sort through collected materials is eliminated.

Compost coordinator duties include:

  • Set-up (containers in place, signage, etc.).
  • Train, assist, and relieve station monitors.
  • Oversee removal of full bags or carts to the service area.
  • Vendor training and monitoring; and
  • Troubleshooting.

The compost coordinator must provide station monitors with an overview of what is compostable and what isn't, as well as composting/recycling logistics, and safety (lifting, not sticking hands directly into containers, etc.). Monitor duties include: providing a brief "compost talk" to event attendees and helping them sort materials; notifying…

Thinking about Spring, Special Events, and Composting

It's that time of year again—time to consider implementing composting at your special event.

Why special event composting?

Virtually all communities—from small towns to large cities—have special events. Whether a block party or music festival, events offer a perfect opportunity for hands-on education about composting. Special events present a microcosm of our society. People gather, they do activities together, and they generate waste.As much as half (or more) of the special event waste stream is compostable.

Composting can be successful at virtually any type of special event. Events frequently offer recycling, a very laudable undertaking. However, taking that next step—to implement collection of compostables—often seems daunting.

Admittedly, the tasks to implementing successful event composting are often unfamiliar and can be challenging—finding a hauler, convincing vendors to only use compostable service ware, and securing more volunteers. Composting at special events doesn't usually happen without extremely dedicated organizers or outside "intervention" from solid waste experts…and, often both!

Getting…

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