Composting/Northeast: Co-Compost Facility Meets Multiple Objectives

In New Jersey, the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders understands that solid waste disposal is among the most critical issues facing county governments today. That’s why the board long ago sought to “raise the bar” on solid waste management. It did so by implementing a plan to ensure a number of objectives, including the long-term self-sufficiency of county communities; meeting recycling goals; reducing the amount of waste being landfilled, and turning waste into a high-quality, marketable end product.

To accomplish all of this, the board turned to co-composting as part of a comprehensive solid waste management strategy. In 1996 the board contracted with Synagro for the design, construction and operation of an advanced in-vessel agitated bin co-composting facility that processes biosolids, shredded wood, and other organic wastes to produce an exceptional-quality compost. Located at the 522-acre Burlington County Resource Recovery Complex in Florence Township, the facility has been in operation since May 1998. It currently receives biosolids from 14 wastewater treatment plants and handles up to 200 wet tons of biosolids a day, with a maximum capacity of 53,000 wet tons a year. Processing yields 185 dry tons a week of biosolids mixed with 400 dry tons of compostable waste organic materials.

The fully enclosed process uses advanced technology to ensure environmental protection and safety. The active composting system is computer-controlled, enabling the material to be converted into a quality end product. Process air is treated through a biofilter, a natural, biological system that cleans air.

In the process, an agricultural mixer blends the compostable materials. The blended mixture is placed into one of 25 process bays where an agitator mixes and moves the material daily. Each mixed batch travels from the front to the rear of the bay over the course of 14 days, during which it remains intact throughout. Upon reaching the end of the bay, the batch cures for 30 days. It then is screened and the finished product is sold.

At the start of the program in 1998, the amendment used in the biosolids mix was wood waste. It since has been expanded to include yard and food waste. As the facility operator, Synagro markets the finished compost product under the “AllGro” name for Burlington County. The compost is sold to bulk users, including landscapers, nurseries, and golf courses. In large part because of its employment of multiple waste management methods, the plan is widely recognized as among the most comprehensive and progressive in the state.


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