The Sizzle and the Steak
by Casey Furlong, MSW Professional
As long as municipalities have been treating wastewater, they’ve had to manage the remaining biosolids. This typically means paying to send it to a landfill or incineration – or where possible — giving it away for land spreading on a farm field.
But why not sell it instead? After all, it has nutrient properties similar to petroleum-based fertilizers.
Cities like Tacoma, Milwaukee and Austin – and their residents –recognize that their plants’ biosolids product has value worth paying for, and these cities have been able to distribute it through garden stores or sell it in bulk.
Marketing is not generally within a wastewater treatment plant’s core competencies but the two steps that these cities have figured out is 1.) Telling a prospective buyer what the product is, and 2.) Emphasizing what it will do for the purchaser of it. “Sell the sizzle not the steak” is an old idiom on the idea.
That may sound utterly simple but a whole industry has grown up around those two tasks. So if your facility is interested in generating revenue from something that is now an expense item, you might want to check with a local ad agency for assistance. Given the general public’s lack of awareness, don’t be surprised if the response is something like, “You want me to help you promote what?”
Casey Furlong is an Environmental Specialist for InSinkErator. With an extensive background in landfill engineering, Casey designed, permitted, constructed and operated municipal solid waste landfills and large-scale food and landscape waste compost facilities. He is a certified landfill manager in Wisconsin and registered professional engineer in the states of WI, IL and IN.