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Inland Empire, L.A. County honored by U.S. EPA for composting partnership efforts

Release Date: 03/24/2014
Contact Information: Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov, 213-244-1815


Award for work presented at solid waste conference in Monterey, Calif.

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest region today presented its esteemed Environmental Champion award to the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (IERCA) and the Los Angeles County Sanitation District for their work to develop a partnership composting program and state-of-the-art renewable energy composting facility. The award was presented by EPA’s Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld to the Los Angeles County Sanitation Department on behalf of both agencies at a ceremony taking place during the Solid Waste Association of North America’s Zero Waste Conference in Monterey, Calif.

“Innovative efforts to share resources are vital to making municipal composting a reality across California,” said Regional Administrator Blumenfeld. “Organic waste sent to landfills can become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, so composting can help in the fight against climate change.”

“The Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority is honored to receive the EPA Environmental Award for its landmark composting project in Southern California” said Jon Blickenstaff, IERCA Board Chairman.

As a result of the partnership, a new agency—the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority—was established to manage the composting efforts for both regions, and a new facility—the Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility—was constructed in 2007 to manage compostable waste. The facility processes approximately 200,000 tons of organic material (such as green waste, wood waste, manure and biosolids) annually, and has been fully compliant with all regulatory requirements since startup.

Since starting operations in 2007, the facility has:

• recycled more than 1,000,000 tons of green waste and biosolids;

• produced more than 1,000,000 cubic yards of compost and sold all material improving soils for water conservation;

• installed 6,224 solar panels that produce 1 megawatt of clean energy; and

• prevented millions of miles of truck traffic for waste hauling.

In addition to benefit of generating commercially-valuable compost material, the facility has been extremely successful in capturing ammonia and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from decaying waste materials. Both of these pollutants are of great concern in the South Coast basin, which is currently designated as a serious non-attainment area for particulate matter known as PM10 and is the only extreme ozone non-attainment area in the United States. Since ammonia and VOCs are precursors to PM10 and ozone respectively, emissions reductions from composting operations play a fundamental role in the South Coast basin meeting its air emissions requirements under the federal Clean Air Act.

Over thirty-eight percent of organic materials - food, yard waste, wood waste, and food-soiled paper - are currently landfilled in the U.S. each year. These valuable materials can be conserved as composting facility capacity grows. Individuals can also make a difference through backyard composting.

Each year, the Pacific Southwest office encourages citizens in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawai’i and the Pacific Territories to nominate individuals, non-profits, businesses, local governments and other groups for environmental awards. This program offers a great opportunity to recognize individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are working to protect public health and the environment. Awards are granted to scientists, teachers, journalists, citizen activists, young people, organizations, business representatives, tribal leaders, public officials, and others committed to protecting public health and preserving our natural surroundings.

For more information about EPA’s environmental award winners, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/awards

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