BioCycle: Navigating Addition Of Food Waste To Yard Trimmings Composting Facility

BioCycle Limoneira

California Wood Recycling, dba Agromin, is expanding its Limoneira Ranch green waste composting facility in Santa Paula (CA) to process food waste. The transition, permitting-wise at the state and local levels, has been arduous, notes Bill Camarillo, Agromin’s CEO: “Going from green waste composting in an agricultural setting to obtaining a permit is as complicated as building a landfill. It is extremely expensive and time-consuming to go through this permitting process — 11 years to get the entitlements, two years of construction permitting, and we still have not received the permit to put a shovel in the ground.”

Required site improvements include better access by developing an intersection to enter the site, construction of surface areas with 10-6 impermeability, building seven acres worth of storm water ponds that weren’t required for green waste composting, and adding all utilities required of any commercial solid waste facility, including power, sewer and having potable water because the fire department requires it. When BioCycle asked if going through this permitting process is worth it, Camarillo stated, “Absolutely! The permit is good for 50 years, and the facility is part of the County of Ventura’s requirement to have composting infrastructure.”

Agromin received a $10 million grant from CalRecycle’s most recent round of awards from its Organics Grant Program. Funds will be used to install a covered aerated static pile composting system to be supplied by Engineered Compost Systems to process 68,125 tons/year of food and green material diverted from three area landfills., along with the current tonnages of green waste received. The Limoneira green waste site sits on 15 acres and will be expanded to 70 acres. Construction will begin in 2024 in phases to be completed by 2026.

The new facility will be set up to receive primarily commingled residential organics and enable Agromin to provide services to all 10 cities in Ventura County at one location. The company partnered with E.J. Harrison & Sons, a solid waste hauler, to construct the Mountain View Organic Waste Processing Facility on E.J. Harrison’s property in Oxnard (CA). Once completed, the facility will have the capacity to process up to 300 tons/day of source separated residential and commercial organics. Residential organics collected in Ventura County will be preprocessed at the Mountain View facility, then transported to the Limoneira facility for composting. “We will ask customers to bag their food waste and soiled paper before adding it to their green waste cart,” explains Camarillo. “Those bags will be depackaged, creating a ‘food mash’ that will be composted with green waste.”

In CalRecycle’s announcement about the grant award to Agromin, it noted that the expanded facility “will result in 681,000 tons of newly diverted food and green material from landfill and a reduction of 147,000 MTCO2e (metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent) of greenhouse gas emissions over ten years. In addition, the project will provide 26 jobs targeting a priority population, and support community projects with free compost.”

FEBRUARY 27, 2024

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