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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

EarthMate was a Philadelphia, PA compost product made from toxic sewage sludge.[1][2] It was no longer produced as of 2007.

History of EarthMate

According to the City of Philadelphia website, the City of Philadelphia Water Department ended ocean dumping of sewage sludge in 1980 and decided to dispose of sludge as compost in 1984.[3] The Sludge Processing and Distribution Center (since renamed the Biosolids Recycling Center) was opened in 1988. The Center dewaters and processes sewage sludge from three wastewater treatment plants. Historically, the Center disposed of 20 percent of its sludge via compost marketing and an additional 25 percent via agricultural land application in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Compost, called EarthMate was produced until March 2007.[4] Today, they only produce one product ("biosolids cake") instead of the four products produced in the past. Mine mix is no longer produced.

On October 11, 2008, the Biosolids Recycling Center was privatized:[5]

"The most significant recent change to the BRC operation was that it was privatized on October 11, 2008, and the facility is now solely operated and controlled by Synagro Technologies through the Philadelphia Biosolids Services(PBS) company. PBS is solely responsible for ensuring that their operations are in compliance with all federal, state, and local Clean Air Act and odor requirements. This 20+ year contract with the City leases a portion of the property at 7800 Penrose Ferry Road to the company for Synagro to operate and utilize all of the biosolids produced by the City of Philadelphia. Their current operation is the same as the City?s operation which consists of dewatering the sludge from the wastewater plants; storing the cake on site; and utilizing the biosolids cake by agricultural land application, strip-mine application, and land-fill. With this contract, the Company is obligated to design, build, and operate a Class A Drying Facility at the BRC site within 5 years."

One website describes Philadelphia's previous sludge products programs as follows:[6]

"The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania produces two kinds of biosolids - composted and anaerobically - digested. A high-quality, screened biosolids compost is commercially marketed throughout the Delaware Valley region to greenhouse and nursery producers, landscape contractors, county clubs and homeowners. This program markets approximately 25,000 tons of high-quality compost product every year. The city also blends its anaerobically-digested biosolids with unscreened compost to make a product called Mine Mix. Thousands of acres of stripmines have been successfully reclaimed using Philadelphia's Mine Mix biosolids product. The anaerobically-digested biosolids produced by the city is also offered to Pennsylvania farmers within 80 miles of the city."

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Branded products containing sewage sludge, SludgeNews Website accessed June 3, 2010.
  2. Biosolids Management Overview, City of Philadelphia website, Accessed November 13, 2010.
  3. Biosolids Management Overview, City of Philadelphia website, Accessed November 13, 2010.
  4. EarthMate, City of Philadelphia website, Accessed November 13, 2010.
  5. Biosolids Management Overview, City of Philadelphia website, Accessed November 13, 2010.
  6. Metropolitan Council - U.S. Biosolids Scene, Accessed November 12, 2010.

External resources

External articles

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