Saturday, April 17, 2010

Things I learned at BioCycle

1. Change begins with one person. One person can make a big difference.
2. There's no one-size-fits-all composting set-up. A dairy farmer in Iowa will have very different needs from a small school in Ohio from a city with 382,000 people. What will you be composting? Food scraps, grasses, manure, yard waste, soiled paper? What're your weather conditions? The variables are infinite and each system has to be tailored.
3. In the composting business they use a lot of acronyms.
4. The EPA has compiled and conducted an impressive amount of information and research on waste reduction and put it on its website for all to see and use.
5. If you're getting an anaerobic digester, first figure out your needs, and then choose a system, rather than vice-versa.
6. I wish you'd all gotten to hear the plenary speech by Jared Blumenfeld, administrator for the EPA's Southwest Region (California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and more than 140 tribal nations). He's a dynamic, inspirational speaker with front-lines experience with waste reduction, composting and recycling in San Francisco.
7. Landfill diversion presents big opportunities: for jobs and for the economy as well as for the environment.
8. Partnerships with businesses, haulers, schools, local government are key.
9. I naively thought everyone at this conference would be a believer. But I found out that not everyone who's in the composting/recycling business is in it to save the environment. Some see it strictly as a business.
10. People in this field are very smart. Lots of scientists and engineers.
11. Is it important to go to an RFP meeting on a Thursday night in the rain? Yes. Maybe 4-5 people show up for those, and they can shape far-reaching policy for years to come.

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