Oregon USA composting program's future in question

  • NPreneta01
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Oregon USA composting program's future in question

I wanted to put out a request for SuSanA members that are located in the US Pacific Northwest. I recently moved to southern Oregon and came across a composting program that is currently run by the city of Grants Pass, population of approximately 35,000. While other towns/cities are looking into co-composting and thermal drying as other treatment methods for the biosolids, Grants Pass and their Jo-Gro composting program remains the lone program of its kind in the area ( www.grantspassoregon.gov/Index.aspx?page=1663 ).

Unfortunately, it seems that after running for years (I believe since 2000), the city council is discussing the possibility of shutting down this program and perhaps moving back towards landfilling the solids. While I am still gathering information, it appears that the move is financially motivated, with little ongoing investment into the facility over the past few years resulting in some big ticket items that need to be done in the near future.

In addition, the program has required increasing subsidies as sales have fluctuated along with the ups and downs of the local economy. As a result, they consistently price their high-value product at 30-50% less than competitors who are selling basic yard waste compost. No market research has ever been performed and there has been little promotion of the product, so this is not surprising. From my short time here, however, it appears that there may be a significant market that has yet to be tapped and that could lead to demand far outstripping supply.

My hope is to gather support in the area to persuade Grants Pass City Council to delay any move away from biosolids composting until the necessary market research is completed and the potential revenue opportunities understood. To revert back to landfilling the biosolids would be a significant step back in sustainable waste treatment.

Let me know, either here on the forum or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if you are interested and in this area OR if you have any recommendations/thoughts on the issue. Thanks

Nick

Nick Preneta, MPH
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  • wambuak
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Re: Oregon USA composting program's future in question

I wish to congratulate for taking the initiative to add value to garbage. Let me share my experience from Nairobi, Kenya: we feed the organics (100%) from our house to our compost facility. This has tremendously reduced the amount of solid waste we have to pay for collection. However, I would be happy to know how to improve the composting process I am using.

James Wambua Kaluli
JKUAT
Kenya
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  • Ecogo
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Re: Oregon USA composting program's future in question

Not just grant's pass.
More of a national crisis, as we hear in Radiolab's recent audio post: www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/319978

Perhaps the solution is raising the cost of land-filling nutrients?

David
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  • RodrigoBIS
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Re: Oregon USA composting program's future in question

How is the system working? You colect the organics from separated garbages? you make post-separation? or make a pre-compost in the households for makind the secondary treatment in acentral unit? how many households is this service attending? Thanks for sharing dude!
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  • joeturner
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Re: Oregon USA composting program's future in question

NPreneta01 wrote:
In addition, the program has required increasing subsidies as sales have fluctuated along with the ups and downs of the local economy. As a result, they consistently price their high-value product at 30-50% less than competitors who are selling basic yard waste compost. No market research has ever been performed and there has been little promotion of the product, so this is not surprising. From my short time here, however, it appears that there may be a significant market that has yet to be tapped and that could lead to demand far outstripping supply.


Nick, can I ask about this paragraph.

When you say that the price is 30-50% lower than competitors, what exactly do you mean? Presumably the sludge compost is being bought in bulk by farmers for use on land, are you suggesting that others are also selling green waste compost in bulk? Or is the latter being sold in bags (or perhaps do you mean that the sludge compost should be sold in bags?)?

Of course, one thing to consider is that the sludge compost is likely heavier and wetter than green-waste compost, so there may be a cost of transport to the end user. I also heard the radiolab episode mentioned above, the problem with that scenario was that there must have been enormous costs involved in transporting the sludge by rail.

Another point might be if there is a cost of landfill. Here in the UK, there is a tax on landfill, to the extent that is actually becomes more viable to give away the compost than to pay to landfill it (which in any case is becoming more difficult due to EU legistlation). Finally, is there any way the city could use the compost themselves? One could probably make a financial argument based on a cost saving compared to (for example paying for compost on flower beds) providing the sludge met safety standards. I've no idea about the situation where you are, the city might even own a farm they could use the compost upon.
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