Member Highlight

New Grasslands Facility Advances Vermont Biosolids Recycling
April 2015

Vermont's solid waste management planning has long included a goal of recycling 75% or more of the wastewater solids produced in the state.  Over the years, the actual rate of solids applied to soils has yo-yo-ed: "nearly all" in 1987, 40% in 1997, 74% in 1999 (Burlington area solids go to Quebec for composting), 70% in 2004, and 17% in 2003.  When the recycling rate was high, most of the biosolids was treated and used out of state.  NEBRA has been encouraging improvements in Vermont policies and perspectives, to advance utilization of this local resource (e.g. NEBRA presentation to Lake Champlain CAC).

Now, the recent slump has been reversed.  Casella Organics, which manages the solids from most of the Burlington area wastewater treatment plants, has begun treating them at their new Grasslands facility in upstate New York.  This should bring Vermont's recycling rate back to 70% or greater - a leap forward in sustainability!

Casella Organics’ Grasslands Facility is a biosolids processing facility in Chateaugay, New York. This facility manufactures a Class A fertilizer product for use on farm fields, reclamation sites, and in top soil blends as a source of nutrients and pH adjustment (lime value).

The Grasslands Facility was formerly a compost operation.  It reopened in March 2012, featuring an upgrade to Schwing Bioset processing equipment. In the spring of 2013, it was expanded, and a larger processing unit was installed, to increase the processing capacity. The facility was originally licensed to process an average of 40 wet tons per day of wastewater solids. With the upgraded process technology, the permit has been expanded to accept an average of 250 wet tons per day.

Today the Grasslands facility produces earthlife® FertilimerTM, that is utilized to improve agricultural soils by balancing soil pH, enhancing soil nutrient levels and improving organic matter content.  All inputs are managed in a covered receiving area and then prepared for active processing through the Bioset system, a controlled exothermic reaction to pasteurize biosolids with the addition of lime.  All processing is performed in accordance with state and federal regulations to meet Class A distribution requirements. 

Chateaugay is located in the southern portion of an extensive agricultural region that extends westward in New York and northward across the St. Lawrence River into Quebec, providing for ample farmland that can benefit from this local biosolids resource.