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Re: [GreenYes] RE: composting question?
- Subject: Re: [GreenYes] RE: composting question?
- From: Phil Fredericks <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 14:55:33 -0500
Doris Cellarius wrote:
........Was there dioxin at ppt in the Tucson product?
It wasn't tested for in Tucson. It was tested for in Branson because there was a
known concentration of dioxin in the Branson, Mo. feed stock.
> ......The process looks a little like what Jeff Gage does in Tacoma, WA. Do
> know about them? I don't know how clean their compost it but I think he just
> uses green waste.
I know nothing about his process but feel confident in saying that it is not
similar to ours.
We have worked for years now in utilizing and managing specific microbes to
remediate organic contaminants and the independent testing results verify our
results in producing a Class I, unrestricted use compost from a wide variety of
You may find the following newspaper report interesting.
Compost redeems toxic city lots Lincoln man
says his system can reclaim any city's waste
Category: NW Sunday Monday
JENNIFER HANSEN ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
LINCOLN -- Last February, an Arkansas composting company was asked to
do what Oklahoma authorities
said couldn't be done -- clean the contaminated soil in two vacant Oklahoma
City lots where toxic levels of the
pesticide chlordane had been discovered. "Nobody in the Department of
Environmental Quality, the Oklahoma
Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma State University or the County Extension
Office had any hopeful thing to
say about this site. They all just said we either remove the soil and dispose of
it as hazardous waste for half a
million dollars or just declare it a toxic site," said neighbor Allen Parleir.
The lots once held dilapidated,
abandoned crack houses the city had razed. The local neighborhood association
asked to use the lots for
community gardens, and the city agreed. There was one problem: the chlordane.
The pesticide was banned
in the mid-80s, but the levels were still so high the lots could not be used for
growing food unless something was
Parleir, secretary-treasurer of the Central Park Community Garden, kept
looking for another alternative. After
hearing about EarthCare Technologies Inc. in Lincoln, he arranged for $750 worth
-- 35 cubic yards -- of
EarthCare's microbe-rich compost to be put on the tilled soil. Tests done before
and after the compost was
applied showed a startling difference. "On one lot the chlordane had been
reduced 95 percent and on another lot
by 75 percent," Parlier said. "Now we have a cover crop growing there and we'll
be planting next spring."
When Phil Fredericks thinks about how America recycles he shakes his head in
frustration, then he starts talking. Fredericks is the owner, visionary and
red-suspendered leader of EarthCare, a
high-tech composting company whose processes, he claims, can reduce the average
trash can yuck to the stuff
of which gardeners dreams are made. When Fredericks discusses what his company
can do for garbage, he's not
just looking at coffee grounds and Big Mac bits. He's envisioning an entire
city's garbage diverted through his
facility. "Pull out the recyclables if there's a market for them. When it's
economically viable, no entrepreneur will
grind it up," he said, jerking his hands back and forth as if picking newspapers
from a sorting line. "But if the
market isn't there, grind
them up and compost them," he said, leaning forward and swiping his hands across
each other, like a baseball
umpire declaring a runner safe.
Fredericks has spent years trying to get his system running in Northwest
Arkansas and elsewhere. His
opponents have ranged from recycling devotees to the state's Department of
Pollution Control and Ecology. Step
by step, Fredericks persuaded people to listen to his plan and, finally, to
"Composting is an excellent technology, and EarthCare makes a superior
product. They know what they're
doing," said Jim Wimberly, past president of the United States Composting
Council. Wimberly is now president
of the Foundation for Organic Resources Management in Fayetteville. Most of his
time is spent consulting with
companies on ways to reduce and market the byproducts of their industries. If
the United States is going to
achieve environmentally sound objectives, it's better to develop the demand for
recycled materials by creating
useful, good quality products like compost, rather than to require compliance
and participation. The free-market
system is the best way to change attitudes and practices, Wimberly said. "If
Phil can grind up all those
containers so his microbes can neutralize the spectrum of materials and
chemicals inside, if he can make a product
that's biologically stable and pathogen-free, then his process deserves serious
consideration as an alternative to
landfilling," Wimberly said. "What Phil needs now is good science. It's time the
research community stepped up
to the plate," he said.
Northwest Arkansas Recovery Inc., a licensee of EarthCare, has a livestock
and poultry waste composting
facility in Lincoln. In the 11-day-old piles of dark compost is what's left of
chicken carcasses, litter and sawdust.
The piles have an earthy aroma. Here and there are still a few bones, the odd
feather. "The marrow is gone in two
days. It takes about two weeks to get the bones gone," said Scott Shedd, the
facility's site manager.
The odor in the two-day-old piles is stronger. Noticeable from about 10 feet
away, it's an acrid scent,
unpleasant but not overwhelming -- nothing close to the smell of a chicken house
The microbial recipe EarthCare uses is proprietary. Once the piles, known as
windrows, finish "cooking,"
they're filtered through several screens. The finest has openings a quarter-inch
wide. The resulting odorless
compost is almost fluffy in texture.
But what Fredericks is composting here is animal matter and sawdust. What he
is more of what's being dumped in the landfill. "Glass, plastic, metal -- these
are basically inert. They're an
eyesore, but they're not toxic. What you see going into a landfill is mixed
waste, things that could compost down,
things that won't. Right now it's all mixing together in the landfill and making
toxic leachate [contaminated
liquids]. All we're saying is if you can't sell it, give it to us. Do you see
leachate here? No," Fredericks said,
strolling up and down his rows.
Fredericks' approach has met with skepticism from some, including the
Four-County Regional Solid Waste
Management District. The district coordinates solid waste matters for Benton,
Carroll, Madison and Washington
counties. District leaders wonder whether EarthCare's composting operation can
do everything Fredericks says it
can. Their goal is to see 40 percent of the 460,000 tons of garbage generated
annually in the district kept out of
landfills. The district created a $25,000 grant this year for an EarthCare-type
system so it could be studied, but no
request for the money has come, according to District Director Steven L. Parker.
Parker said he's open to learning
more about EarthCare's process. Although he said he has reservations about odor
and controlling the quality of
compost from such a variable source as municipal trash, Parker said EarthCare's
program appears successful for
organic waste from places like grocery stores, restaurants, the university and
Back at his office, Fredericks pulled out a sample from a pilot project on
municipal waste in Tucson, Ariz. In this
mix were the remains of plastic containers, glass, diapers, food waste and
leachate Fredericks added to
demonstrate the remediation powers of his microbes. There are no sharp pieces of
anything. The broken glass
has been reduced to tiny, polished grains, like fine beach sand. Every batch of
his compost is tested, Fredericks
said. He has yet to have a batch that doesn't meet unrestricted agricultural use
There are 15 municipal solid waste composting facilities around the country,
most in Minnesota, according to a
BioCycle magazine annual report. But the technology has not taken off. There's
been little growth in the number
of such sites over the past decade.
EarthCare has a permit to compost municipal trash, but Fredericks doesn't
have any trash to compost because
no city has yet dedicated their trash to EarthCare's system. In Lincoln,
Fredericks is composting chicken
carcasses from two nearby growers. The sawdust he mixes in is from a local
sawmill. The end result, odor-free,
pathogen-free compost. He sells the compost where he can and donates it when he
can't. But he hasn't got trash,
and trash is what will make his real composting dream come true, he said.
Louise Mann of Fayetteville was the first education outreach coordinator for
the Four-County Regional Solid
Waste Management District. She wants to see cities focus on drop-off centers for
hazardous waste pick up and strong efforts to recycle in commercial sectors.
Mann said EarthCare's processes
are good for organics, but she has concerns about mixed trash. "What about my
father's hearing aid batteries?
What about needles and heavy metals?" she asked. "If Phil is talking about
source-separated composting, then
I'm for it. If there is no market, maybe you compost newspapers. But pull out
hearing aid batteries and fluorescent
Again, Fredericks shakes his head. His screening methods pull out many of the
items people fear will be ground
up into dust, he said. And unlike landfills, where in some cases leachate has
contaminated groundwater, he said
his system remediates paint, pesticides and other frequently landfilled hazards.
But even if it didn't, Fredericks
believes he's being held to a higher standard than any landfill. At age 50,
Fredericks sees something spiritual in
his work. "If we had the chance, we could do a heck of a healing," he said.
Allen Parleir is already convinced. "If we give nature's systems a chance to
work without being choked by more
and more toxins, Mother Nature can deal with the poisons we've been polluting
her with," he said.
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