Bioconversion is a big word for a simple idea. Mostly, it’s composting.And University of Georgiascientists are using it to eliminate waste problems.Simply put, bioconversion is turning materials that can be toxic tothe environment into safe,value-added products. It’s the wave of the future as more and morelandfills fill up and close.At the UGA Bioconversion Research and Demonstration Facility in Athens,considered by wastemanagement experts to be one of the best in the nation, researchersstudy how to handle waste.”We’re taking the university’s waste products, from animal bedding inthe barns to leaves andgrass clippings, and composting them,” said WayneMcLaurin, an Extension Servicehorticulturist with the UGA Collegeof Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”The composted product is then put back into the university landscapeas mulch and soilamendments,” he said.But the university is just one of Georgia’s waste producers.”For example, Georgia food processors produce millions of tons of by-productsand waste everyyear,” McLaurin said. “Getting rid of all that waste is a big economicburden for industry.”The state is urging a 25 percent reduction in solid waste going to landfillsover the next two years.The bioconversion research focuses on trimming waste volume, creatingalternative products,ÿ preventing groundwater pollution, developingsoil amendments, using hard-to-convert compounds and minimizing odors.The new facility is a cooperative effort between the CAES and GeorgiaTech.The seven-acre facility has four acres of windrow composting, completewith viewing windows toview the layers of compost. It also has, among other things, enzymedigestion tanks for compostingchicken carcasses from poultry farms.Right now, the windrow composting includes four piles eight feet high,10 feet wide and morethan 200 feet long. Each stack reaches about 140 degrees inside. Andeach has to be turned once amonth to incorporate all the material.”When you compost, the original mass is reduced by 70 percent in thebreakdown,” McLaurinsaid. “It’s great to have the compost in this kind of facility. Peoplecan see the stages the compost is in, the process it goes through and theways we use it to make the university grounds beautiful.””This project allows us to use all our waste,” McLaurin said. “It saveslandfill space and saves allour dumping fees. It makes a usable product out of a waste product.And we’re helping naturerecycle.”Twice a year, the UGA scientists offer training in waste managementand composting for city sitemanagers, landfill compost operators and workers from private operations.”During these trainings, we offer hands-on experience in all the phasesof composting,” McLaurinsaid. “We’re able to discuss the biological process, the materialsyou can use, the chemical processand the application of it, and all the University-generated materialswe’re working with.”The next compost training will be in March. To learn more about it,contact your county extensionagent.
This week, hundreds of Vermont hospitality industry professionals from across the state, gathered at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, VT for the 68th Annual Vermont Travel Industry Conference. During the conference’s awards ceremony, VTIC honored the Town of Killington for excellence in marketing; Bill Orleans, owner of PP&D Brochure Distribution, for Vermont Travel Person of the Year; and Morgan Goodyear, junior at Johnson State College, as recipient of the VTIC Scholarship.After a series of educational and motivational workshops led by industry specialists representing hotels, state tourist attractions, PR and marketing firms and more, the opening day, May 12, concluded with an awards banquet honoring some of the great people and projects in Vermont hospitality. The first award presented was the Governor’s Award for Marketing Excellence. As Master of Ceremonies, Josie Leavitt, owner of Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont, told the audience, the award is given to ‘a tourism-related business, region, or association that has shown a clear understanding of the Vermont Brand and has successfully incorporated it into one or more marketing initiatives.’ The award also gives recognition to the ‘ongoing commitment to Vermont’s tourism industry.’ The judges were asked to base their votes on the following criteria: strategy, creativity, innovation or utilization of a new approach, and achievement of stated bbjectives. The nominees were each unique and excellent in their own way and choosing just one proved to be an incredibly challenging task but the winning project successfully met all of the criteria for marketing excellence. Through their rebranding initiative, the Town of Killington, winner of the 2011 Governor’s Award for Marketing Excellence, developed a strategy from the grassroots level that collaborated events, marketing & special projects. They successfully were able to reach multiple audiences via various channels of communication and relied heavily on the public for private partnerships to leverage additional resources. The Town of Killington used Vermont’s intrinsic qualities while still retaining elements unique to Killington. Seth Webb, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the Town of Killington accepted the award. Honorable mention for the Governor’s Award for Marketing Excellence was given to the Vermont Convention Bureau for their meeting planners guide ‘ a beautiful, comprehensive directory of the Vermont’s event and convention facilities; Ski Vermont for their 5th Grade Passport Program, a project designed to get kids involved in snow sports, and to encourage their allegiance to Vermont products, and again to Ski Vermont for their Digital Travel Initiative, a unique mobile phone application. The second award presented was the VTIC Scholarship. The scholarship fund was established in 1994 to enable Vermont college students to further their education in a tourism-related field. The VTIC Scholarship Award helps a deserving student become a future leader of the Vermont hospitality industry. The 2011 scholarship recipient, Morgan Goodyear, is a junior at Johnson State College and currently works part-time as Conference Planning Assistant at Stoweflake Mountain Resort in Stowe. The final award presented was the Vermont Travel Person of the Year. This award honors a member of the Vermont community who exemplifies and ongoing dedication to what makes Vermont such a special place to visit. The Vermont Travel Person of the Year award is presented to an individual who contributes significantly to Vermont’s travel & tourism industry, enforces the Vermont brand, helps position Vermont as a friendly and fun place to visit, promotes the value of tourism to the state’s economy, and exemplifies what is good within the travel industry and within our local communities. The 2011 Vermont Travel Person of the Year award was presented to Bill Orleans, owner of PP&D Brochure Distribution and Chair of the 2011 Vermont Travel Industry Conference. Bill’s services, as his nominees stated, ‘have become an integral part of the marketing plan of travel related businesses throughout Vermont.’ With over two million brochures distributed last year in hundreds of locations across the state, Bill has made a living promoting and supporting what is good in Vermont. For more information on the Vermont Travel Industry Conference, please visit the website at www.VTIC.org(link is external) or the conference Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VTIC802(link is external). read more