Recycling and Litter Prevention Community Grant Success Story: Akron Zoo

Text from: OHIO EPA – We want to share this success story with the Big Hanna readers!

Since 2011, the Akron Zoo has diverted more than 3.6 million pounds of organic waste from landfills. Previously, the zoo had been using an outside vendor who would collect their organic waste and take it to a composting facility. After experiencing changes with their initial organic hauler and increasing limitations on acceptable organic material, Akron Zoo decided to look for alternative solutions for their organic waste to help them reach their long-term goal of being a zero-waste organization. After evaluating their options, the Akron Zoo decided that the Big Hanna in-vessel composting unitwas best suited for their needs. The finished compost produced in four to six weeks, is used at the Akron Zoo for soil amendment and for landscaping through partnerships by groups like Keep Akron Beautiful and Let’s Grow Akron.

The community development grant from Ohio EPA’s Recycling and Litter Prevention Program (R&LP), along with match funds from Akron Zoo, were used to pay for the composting unit and other equipment. The Big Hanna unit will allow the zoo to compost 20,000 pounds of organic waste annually, including some typically difficult items to compost like vegetable flatware and animal waste. The Big Hanna and the building that encloses it serves as a model and educational opportunity for the zoo and its visitors to learn about sustainability. The zoo has hosted more than 200 tours of the facility, including institutions like Akron Public Schools, Kent State University and Goodyear. Akron Zoo has collaborated with other organizations such as the University of Akron by using some of their organic waste.

Through the R&LP community and litter grants, Ohio EPA offers funds to local governments of up to $200,000 per applicant for the collection and processing of recyclables. Communities and non-profits can also receive funding to implement litter collection events and tire amnesty programs. A 25 percent match from the applicant is required and the grant period is 12 months. For more information about Ohio EPA’s community and litter grants, visit or contact Dave Foulkes at or (614) 644-3118.

Reclaim ownership, RFID reader give a new possibility to compost separated collected bio waste locally

We believe that people want to take back responsibility and fight climate change locally and are willing to do so wherever they live, work or enjoy life. We believe in giving back the power to choose a system to where the system is going to be implemented. We believe that decentralized solutions are the best way to make our world sustainable. Our flexible small-scale systems allow you to control the input and by that the quality of the compost.

Big Hanna is now introducing an RFID reader which gives our customers a number of new opportunities:

  • A municipality can show that food waste is composted at source (and also how much!) which gives opportunity for EU funding when diverting food waste from landfill.
  • It is possible to give discounts on waste collection fees to citizens who compost their food waste, enforcing the ‘Polluter pays’ principle locally.
  • Visualize how much food waste is composted locally and by whom and use that information as a tool to minimize food waste which always should be the number one target.
  • Several houseowners can use one Big Hanna composter and share the operational cost based on usage.

For many years Big Hanna composter has been installed in housing areas where the customers have put their food waste directly into the Big Hanna composters.

By using RFID technology, we now make it possible to install a Big Hanna composter in public areas while controlling who can put the food waste into the composter.  

When installing a RFID reader on the inlet of the composter only persons who holds a valid RFID tag/card can put food waste into the Big Hanna composter

The touch panel log at what time and which tag/card opens the inlet. When the RFID reader is combined with a scale the logfile will also show how much food waste is composted by each tag holder. The log file can easily be downloaded to a USB stick or emailed directly from the touch panel.

A tag reader on the ‘Big Hanna composter’ inlet lid. The lid has a lock so the lid only can be opended when a valid RFID tag is shown.

Two tag readers can read the same tag. One RFID reader opens the entrance to the waste site and one RFID reader opens the lid on the composter.

Big Hanna composter makes it possible for a group of people to easily compost food waste in a densly populated area and the high quality and clean compost can be used directly in the neighborhood.

More information about the ‘Scales and RFID Setup’

Contact us or our distributors to discuss a solution for your specific site: 

‘With the aim of developing a low cost, technically simple and high quality biowaste collection for organic waste.’

SCOW – Selective Collection of the Organic Waste in touristic areas – was a project funded by the EU between 2013-2015.

From SCOW website: ‘The aim of SCOW, funded by the ENPI CBCMED Programme, is to develop low cost, technically simple and high quality biowaste collection and recycling models in territories with touristic areas and agricultural activity. SCOW wants to build up a sustainable, innovative and local treatment of the biowaste in decentralized small-scale composting plants, developed essentially in agricultural holdings situated near the biowaste production areas in the partners ’territories.’

Participants were entities from countries around the Mediterranean Sea and among the participants were ‘Agenzia di Sviluppo Gal Genovese (The development Agency Gal Genovese)’. They choose as a part of their project to install three Big Hanna composters in the Genova area, in City of Ne, Villaggio del Ragazzo Institute and at the Marco Polo Institute in Genova.

Agenzia di Sviluppo Gal Genovese have made a film about the project, but even if the project took place a few years ago it still is most relevant information when making decision on how convert biowaste to high quality compost and closing the loop by using the compost for improving the soil.

‘The success story of BERCA BRAND and the Madrid municipality of El Boalo.’

Big Hanna and BERCA BRAND got an article in ”Equipanmiento y servicios Municipales No 187, 2019
Freely translated from the Spanish Original 😊

Sustainable solutions for the municipal management of organic waste.

The municipality of El Boalo-Cerceda-Mataelpino, located just 50 km from the state capital and at the foot of the mountains that make up the National Park of the Sierra del Guadarrama, has long been famous for the innovative nature of its policies and especially in terms of waste management, in a clear example that sustainability and innovation should occupy a prominent place in municipal policies.

In July 2016 the municipality of El Boalo, with Blanca Ruiz at the head of the Department of the Environment and the waste management service, decided to overturn the municipal waste policy and began the remunicipalisation of the service collection, to date in the hands of a company, taking control of the waste management with the proper means of the municipality and a clear ecosocial commitment. For this, the „Zero Waste” strategy were launched, awarded by the XXVII edition of the National Culture Viva Awards, in which it is distinguished with the award for the best locality for its proposal for circular economy and „zero waste”.

This strategy includes various proposals aimed at avoiding the generation of waste that cannot be managed directly in the municipality, for which actions are being implemented up to now, such as the use of a herd of Guadarrameñas goats as a means of treating the remains of pruning that are produced by the municipality or the use of “avicomposteros” in which hens are responsible for the treatment of 4,000 kg per year of biowaste produced in schools, actions with a clear component of environmental education.

But although such original actions have been responsible for the important visibility of the El Boalo project, they are not the only ones developed by this municipality of just over 7,500 inhabitants, the strategy of the municipality directed by Javier de los Nietos has a long history, deeper and consolidated based on four fundamental pillars, the „zero waste”, the „circular economy”, environmental education, and agroecology.

To this end, it now has more than 250 individual and community composters, door-to-door collection, recovery of equipment and tools and they work on new projects such as the collection of domestic oils for the production of biodiesel, which has led them to be distinguished last November with the VIII CONAMA prize (National Environmental Congress) for the Sustainability of Small and Medium Municipalities, besides being declared the „First Zero Waste Municipality of Madrid” by the Zero Waste Europe entity.

On this occasion it stands out again with another pioneering initiative, the start-up of the first automatic composting installation in CAM with BIG HANNA technology that will allow the composting of the bio residue collected selectively in the municipality in an automatic, fast way, controlled and without any external interaction, free of odors, insects, birds and other inconveniences that traditional systems have.

The BIG HANNA technology, of Swedish origin and distributed in Spain by BERCA BRAND, has been developed since 1991 and currently has more than 1,000 installations throughout the world and allows applying the most advanced technology to something as natural as the composting of biowaste. The biological process is developed inside the machine in a continuous and controlled way, which allows to develop the thermophilic, mesophilic and maturation phase inside the digester itself. This process can last between 6 and 10 weeks, which guarantees that the compost can be used safely, free of odors and pathogens. During this time, organic waste is reduced to 90% of its volume.

The BIG HANNA composting machines operate almost completely autonomous without hardly requiring the intermediation of personnel. The remote control of the machines allows access to the touch screen from remote or even from a smartphone or a tablet, receiving any alarms that may be caused as a result of a failure in the process, as well as reprogramming at a distance, the working times of aeration and rotation, thus correcting anomalies in the process.

The touch screen shows the temperature record and the settings of the programming, the inputs and outputs when recording, as well as the alerts and the power consumption. The log files can be downloaded to a USB stick, memory card or accessed remotely via the internet.

Thanks to this remote control, the automation of the process (low labor cost) and the low energy consumption, the operating costs of this installation are very low.

BERCA BRAND proposes a new model of bioremediation management by decentralizing its treatment through a strategic distribution of mini-plants in a territory, thus avoiding unnecessary transport of the largest and heaviest fraction contained in the waste. Its purpose is to bring the treatment closer to the sites which produces the waste.

Here the application of circular economy strategies is so booming and in view of the need to reach the aforementioned 2020 objectives by the municipalities, BERCA BRAND AND BIG HANNA contribute to a real change in line with these objectives.

More information please contact our distributor in Spain:

Big Hanna model T480 installation indoors and outdoors with biofilter

A video showing how different installations of our model T480 including a biofilter can be done. The composter can be installed indoors or outdoors with a covering roof where climate is mild. In cold climates the composting process needs to be protected against the wind but the installation area does not need to be heated to room temperature.

The biofilter reduce the odor from the composting process with up approx. 95%.

Top quality compost from Big Hanna is used by Val-de-Marne departement, France

The ‘Val-de-Marne departement’ is one of the three departments that form a ring around Paris. Val-de-Marne decided in 2014-and 2015 to convert their food waste to compost and installed two Big Hanna composters – one model T120 at their Technical department office area and one model T240 at the school Lycée Adolphe Cherioux. In the Big Hanna composters food waste from the canteens are composted. The produced compost has been analyzed and reaches the result NFU 44-051 (click here). The compost is being used in parks and gardens in the department and also in many growing trials.

At my visit in beginning of October Mr William DESCAMPS Charge of projects at Délégation générale au Développement Durable and Mr James THEBAULT (Conseiller technique) in Val-de-Marne departement gave me a guided tour at the installation in their Technical department.

Compost from Big Hanna being used in Lasagna Bed

The technology they are using in their trials is called ‘Lasagna bed’ and of course it is the lasagna that gave the name to the ‘Lasagna bed’, layers on layers on layers on layers…

It is a technique of putting layers of brown waste (straw, leaves), green waste (mowing grass) and compost, which could fertilize a soil.

When using the ‘Lasagna bed’ technology in their different trials the compost comes from Big Hanna. The compost is stored in compartments like the one in the photo after discharged from the Big Hanna.

We visited the test site at Valenton Technical department and the results are very promising showing that the Lasagna beds with the compost from Big Hanna are giving plants extra nutrition. The pictures below show a hazel plants, the one on the left has ‘normal’ soil and the one on the right is planted on a lasanga bed. As you see in the picture to the right it is both higher and much more vigorous.

Another study – Ebipol, by UPEC, Université Paris-Est Créteil

The Ebipol scientific experiment done by was started in 2014 (see video) and on my visit I saw the pictures from this study – very impressive! Flowers were planted on ‘Lasagna bed’ with Big Hanna compost, as well as on sterile soil – ‘Terre Nue’ and on topsoil ‘Terre Vegetalisee’.

De första slutsatserna visar en mycket större utveckling av plantor på odlingslotten med en „Lasagnebädd”. Lasagnebädden fungerar som ett kraftfullt naturligt gödningsmedel. Som kan ses på „Terre Vegetalisee” och „Lasagna bed” -bilderna, hjälper det också till att förhindra utveckling av ogräs.

As you can hear in the video (in French) this project aims to reactivate the biological activity of soils using building embankments or inert soil from deep soils, recovered during construction sites in Greater Paris. ‘If we spread inert soils on urban wasteland in a layer of one meter and we add a ‘Lasagna bed’, we are generating a new fertile soil, explains Philippe Mora, professor at the UPEC. The introduction of earthworms facilitates the process. They favor the degradation of the vegetable matter and will incorporate the lasagna bed in the soil by plowing it.’

This is an on-going project which will be under observation for five years in total.

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