Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • 21st Century Infrastructure Transforms California’s Central Valley

    Family Company on Front Lines of California’s Climate Fight

    Just months after unveiling its new $7.5 million compost operation in California’s Central Valley, Mid Valley Disposal (MVD) is ready to expand. The family-owned company just received a $1.9 million Organics Grant from CalRecycle to add eight more composting bunkers to its still-new 16-heap facility in Kerman (Fresno County).

    “This is cutting-edge compost technology,” says Mid Valley Disposal General Manager Joseph Kalpakoff. The compost piles are covered with a Gore-Tex material that allows the piles to breathe but does not allow larger, potentially polluting organic molecules to escape. The system produces more nutrient-rich compost than traditional open-air composting does, Kalpakoff says.

    image

    Once completed, the project expansion will enable MVD to process 105,000 tons of the region’s organic waste each year—transforming discarded food, yard waste, and other green materials into California’s emerging hot commodity.  

    “We’re right in the heart of the agricultural area, so the demand is there for quality compost,” Kalpakoff adds. “We have companies that want to buy everything we can produce right now.”

    The market-driven demand is an encouraging sign for California’s waste reduction and climate goals. For Mid Valley Disposal, however, this latest 21st century infrastructure upgrade is about more than turning discards into dollars. It’s about maximizing benefits beyond its borders by creating jobs (the facility expansion will create up to 18 temporary construction positions and four full-time positions), reducing greenhouse gases, and positioning California’s agricultural heartland for a healthier and more sustainable future.

    “Our family and our management team all live here in the Valley, so the homes and businesses we serve aren’t just customers to us. These are our neighbors,” explains Kalpakoff.

    Kalpakoff’s father started the regional recycling and waste management company in 1997 with just two garbage trucks and a limited collection route. Two decades later, MVD employs more than 400 people at six facilities throughout Fresno, Madera, Tulare, and Kings counties.

    In February 2017, the company unveiled its latest community investment in Kerman. The 10-acre, 68,000-square-foot compost facility got off the ground with the help of a $3 million grant from CalRecycle. The department’s Organics Grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. In addition to creating 50 temporary construction jobs, the Kerman compost facility project resulted in six permanent jobs and a cascade of environmental and economic benefits for the community.

    “At the end of the day, the grant did a couple different things,” says Kalpakoff. “It allowed us to keep our rates to our customers down. It provided a more localized facility. And it provided some infrastructure to the Central Valley that we didn’t have before.”

    MVD’s 20-year trajectory underscores how a business model with growth ambitions can be successful with a focus not on mass disposal, but on recycling and reuse.

    Various state climate and waste reduction policies seek the near elimination of organics in landfills, where the material decomposes and emits methane—a super-pollutant 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. When recycled, this material can be converted into value-added products like compost or renewable energy. Compost use provides a simple, proven way to build carbon content and hold more water in soils, which is essential for building climate resilience in our communities and to protect California agriculture from a hotter, drier future.

    image

    All of the organic material needed to produce MVD’s high-quality compost comes through the company’s new commercial organics recycling programs in Fresno, Madera, Tulare, and Kings counties. In addition to providing a steady feedstock for its new compost facility, MVD’s organics recycling program is helping the municipalities and businesses it serves get into compliance with California’s Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling law (AB 1826, Chesbro, Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014). The law requires the state’s largest commercial generators of organic waste to recycle the material instead of landfill it.  It also helps set the conditions for the state to reach the targeted methane reductions outlined in SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016). The law calls for a 50 percent reduction of organics in landfills by 2020 and 75 percent reduction by 2025.

    “We’ve just added about 10 communities to our mixed green waste and food waste program,” Kalpakoff continues. “So we’re slowly adding the expansion of food waste into their green waste collection carts.” 

    The expansion of Mid Valley Disposal’s existing site will support new organic recycling programs for school districts, a local hospital, a baseball stadium, the Big Fresno Fair, and other local businesses and municipalities that MVD serves through its 28 franchise agreements in the region.

    “This latest climate investment provides a much-needed boost to California’s organic waste recycling capacity, which the state must roughly double to meet its greenhouse gas reduction and 75 percent recycling goals,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said in announcing the department’s most recent grants. “These infrastructure projects help diversify our local economies and create durable green jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

    —Lance Klug

    image
    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Aug 31, 2017