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Composting company puts processor waste, beetle kill to good use

Fish and chips

Posted: Monday, March 05, 2007

 

  Pete Kinneen, one of the directors of Fish and Chips Composting, displays the mixture of ground up spruce and fish waste that his organization is composting behind Snug Harbor Seafoods in Kenai. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Pete Kinneen, one of the directors of Fish and Chips Composting, displays the mixture of ground up spruce and fish waste that his organization is composting behind Snug Harbor Seafoods in Kenai.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure and a newly formed local nonprofit business is hoping to prove it.

“It’s called Fish and Chips Composting,” said Pete Kinneen, who, along with Paul Dale and Brenda Stoops, is responsible for starting the business.

Kinneen is executive director of Environmental Recycling, which has run the Anchorage Regional Composting Facility since 1993, while Dale and his wife Stoops own Snug Harbor Seafoods in Kenai.

Kinneen said the name of the composting business reflects the two main ingredients that currently go into it — forest and fish waste.

“I keep hearing about the millions of beetle-killed spruce trees on the peninsula and what a fire hazard they represent. At the same time we’ve got fish processors getting in trouble for not properly disposing of their waste materials,” he said.

So Kinneen and the others decided to start a business that would address these issues.

“Our goal is to offer residents a way to manage waste in an ecologically sound way that costs less than the alternatives, and we want to make useful products out of the waste,” he said.

The first step has already been taken. Kinneen said the Kenai Peninsula Borough contracted the business to process and remove beetle-kill debris from the Fire Wise site off of the Kenai Spur Highway a few miles north of Kenai.

Using an industrial grade grinder, the woody material at the site — 1,300 cubic yards — was recently ground into mulch, Kinneen said.

This mulch was then loaded and trucked to Snug Harbor Seafoods on Kalifornsky Beach Road, where it was thoroughly mixed using a back hoe with seafood waste products at a ratio of 20 to 25 parts wood to one part fish.

“Fish waste would be made up of heads, guts and fins from halibut, salmon, sablefish and Pacific cod,” Dale said.

Kinneen added that while Snug Harbor served as a suitable demonstration site, a permanent site to conduct large-scale composting still is being sought.

The $10,740 bill the borough paid to have the work done was a bargain, according to Kinneen. He said it would have cost $17,000 to have the debris burned, or $38,000 to have it removed by others that bid on the contract.

Once the waste products are completely composted, which according to Kinneen should be around late spring, he said there will be useful products to come from it.

One product will be nutrient rich, organic compost for consumers to use for gardening. The remaining, less fine materials could be used for erosion control technology for road building and riverbank restoration projects.

“It’s the future,” Kinneen said. “Organic materials constitute 75 percent of what goes into a landfill. All of that can be composted.”

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