Ca: Rule to Lessen Smog Would Hurt Efforts to
Reduce Trash at Landfi
Sun May 11, 2008 6:51 am (PDT)
- Rule to Lessen Smog Would Hurt Efforts to Reduce Trash at Landfill,
- Officials Say
- Posted on: Saturday, 10 May 2008, 12:00 CDT
- By Adam Ashton, The Modesto Bee, Calif.
- Modesto's 30-acre compost site is caught between a green rock and an
- eco-friendly hard place.
- It takes 65,000 tons of green waste each year and turns it into
- fertilizer, a key component in helping the city comply with a state
- mandate to divert half of its garbage out of landfills.
- But a proposed rule aimed at reducing ozone pollution could drive up
- cost of composting, which could lead to cutbacks at the site and more
- waste winding up at landfills.
- The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District wants to rein
- volatile organic compounds, a precursor to smog that leaks out of the
- seemingly endless rows of decomposing material that sit at large
- Its proposed rule would require companies and cities that compost
- than 50,000 tons of waste a year to install equipment that filters
- contributors. The district's board of directors is expected to vote
- the rule early next year.
- Putting in the filtering equipment would oblige Modesto to more than
- double what it charges to accept a ton of green waste from $18.75 to
- $40, estimated Jocelyn Reed, city solid waste division manager. Or,
- said, the city could scale down its operation to fit in under the
- 50,000-ton threshold.
- Increased composting costs would start to make the landfill
- composters say. The county landfill charges $30 to take a ton of
- "It's going to be twice as expensive to compost material as it
is to put
- it in the landfill because of the demands of what they expect you to
- do," said Dennis Shuler, environmental affairs director for
- Gilton Solid Waste Management, whose company composts 30,000 to
- tons of green waste a year.
- On the finished end, some industry representatives worry that more
- expensive compost could drive more farmers to buy synthetic
- The city charges $15.75 for about 1,200 pounds of compost.
- "Rather than beneficially reusing these materials through
- because of the added regulatory burden and cost, it would go back to
- landfill or be disposed of in the least environmentally friendly
- said Jan Marie Ennenga, executive director of the Manufacturers
- of the Central Valley.
- The air district is taking those criticisms into account while it
- refines its proposal, said George Heinen, the air district's
- for rule development.
- Every little bit counts
- He said the air district must consider any source to reduce the
- chronic pollution. Compost sites could contribute as much as 57 tons
- volatile organic compounds to the valley's air each year, according
- the district's early estimates.
- "It all adds up; we need every tenth of a ton," Heinen
- Those numbers are a source of disagreement between the air district
- The air district based its projection on a Southern California study
- that showed a ton of compost material yields 3.84 pounds of volatile
- organic compounds.
- A 2007 study at Modesto's site conducted by the state Integrated
- Management Board came up with much lower numbers -- from 0.8 pounds
- ton of pure green waste and as much as 2.6 pounds per ton of
- food waste.
- "At this point, we do believe there's quite a bit, but the exact
- is still being refined," Heinen said.
- Matt Cotton, a composting consultant, said the industry he represents
- thinks of itself as green because of its work diverting waste from
- "Clearly, the idea of regulating emission from green waste
- very brand new, and you have the juxtaposition of these competing
- which are both desirable," he said.
- Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at