Tag Archives: curbside composting program

Boston launching pilot composting program (article)

[originally found here: http://www.wasterecyclingnews.com/article/20130813/NEWS08/130819986/boston-launching-pilot-composting-program?utm_campaign=residential_newsletter&utm_medium=residential_email&utm_source=residential_20130814&utm_content=article12]

Boston is launching a pilot, drop-off program to collect organic waste from households and turn it into compost.

The items being accepted for free at three farmers markets include mostly food scraps, such as fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, egg shells, nut shells, pits and non-greasy items like rice, pasta, bread and cereal. However, house plants and potted soil will be taken, too.

The limited-time program – it ends in late October – represents Boston’s first foray into public composting and will allow city officials to evaluate how residential composting can be part of waste reduction goals.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the program was inspired by feedback during community presentations about the city’s urban agricultural zoning amendment and it contributes to his Greenovate Boston initiative to educate the public on climate actions.

“Residents have made it clear that they support a healthier, cleaner Boston that supports local agriculture, healthy food and waste reduction,” Menino said in a statement. “This pilot will show residents how separating food scraps from trash is better for the environment and our bottom-line.”

For the three-month duration of the program, Renewable Waste Solutions will donate supplies and hauling services. The compostable materials will be transported to Rocky Hill Farm in Saugus, Mass., and transformed into fertile soil for use in commercial and personal farming and gardening projects.

“This pilot will set the stage for a larger conversation about innovative ways to continue increasing recycling in Boston, which is imperative to the vitality of our city,” Chief of Environment and Energy Brian Swett said in a statement.

While it isn’t curbside compost collection for everyone, I think this is a huge victory for the city of Boston, and I hope there’s some highly publicized results that other cities can learn from.

Philadelphia is one of them.  I feel like we’re on the brink of having some centralized food scrap collection trials, but I’m not sure what needs to happen next to make that happen.  The only problem I see is that it relies on public interest instead of what’s best for the public.

Communication and publicity are two huge factors here, and I hope Boston has plenty of advocates that can convey the message that composting is not only cool but extremely necessary right now.  I can see it now…the composting trial is over, and half the city didn’t know about it.

For all the haters out there complaining that commercial composting facilities turn into “stump dumps”, or try to make an issue out of where all the compost will go, quit denying the human nutrient cycle that’s been here as long as we have.  We eat, we crap it out, we compost it, we grow food with it.

Food Scraps Will Grow the Compost Market (article)

(as originally posted here)

As more cities and municipalities attempt to divert food scraps and other organics from the waste stream, composting will continue to grow across all sectors in 2013, according to an industry expert.

“In terms of organics recycling, it’s a pretty common fact that if you look at food residuals as a feedstock for the compost manufacturing industry, it’s an enormous resource,” said Michael Virga, executive director of the U.S. Composting Council. “It’s an enormous resource, about 97%, that currently is still going to landfills and 3% is being captured, recovered and recycled into compost or other beneficial uses.”

In order to increase that number, Virga said, restaurants, sports venues, universities, hospitals, corporations and other large institutions will need to lead the way. Some states are making that push.

In mid-2012, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection considered a landfill ban on all food waste from businesses such as hotels, restaurants and more. The goal is to divert at least 350,000 tons from landfills annually by 2020. A draft of the ban is expected by 2013.

Other cities such as Portland, Ore., Seattle, San Francisco and Austin, Texas, have implemented successful curbside organics collection. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be increasing across the board.

“You’re dealing with a populace that is reluctant, in many cases, because of the whole idea of dealing with food scraps and the ‘yuck’ factor,” Virga said. “That comes into play, constantly. That’s not going to go away. You just need to be able to convince people it’s the right thing to do. It’s happening, but it’s more gradual. It’s easier to convince a restaurant or hospital administration.”

And some large institutions made big strides in 2012 to divert organics from their dumpsters.

For example, Ohio State University’s Ohio Stadium successfully went zero waste at its 105,000-plus capacity stadium, not once but three times, diverting from landfill a record-high 98.2% of waste (food scraps, compostable items and recyclables) during a Nov. 3 home game. The season average diversion rate was nearly 88%. The university achieved the goal with help from a local composter, Price Organics Farms Ltd., and vendor Sodexo Inc., among others.

“If you have enough there, in terms of infrastructure, then you have real opportunities with institutions,” Virga said. “A lot of the growth of composting occurring in the foreseeable future is going after that significant piece of the total pie. We’ve been working with a lot of the corporations that are doing this, developing composting programs, whether it’s Whole Foods [Market], McDonald’s, Bank of America or NASCAR.”

Also in 2013, the USCC will have a better idea of how much composting goes on in the U.S.

Late last year, the organization implemented the first phase of a research study to identify, as much as possible, every compost facility in the U.S. such as permitted public and commercial operations.

USCC’s preliminary research is estimating there are between 3,500 and 4,500 composting facilities in the U.S. The organization also will provide training programs focused on educating large institutions on how to do a composting program.

Despite the growth of organics collection in 2013, there has to be an end-market for the compost, Virga said. All the organics feedstock, awareness and education won’t be worthwhile if the economics aren’t there.

“If you don’t have the markets to sell that compost, it falls apart,” Virga said. “You have to drive the market. One of the big things we’re going to be doing in 2013 is a real push on compost use. We’re developing a consumer-friendly website on compost to make sure people take the bag of compost over the chemical fertilizers.”