March 4, 2014
- Controlled access and an onsite attendant (or volunteers) are important for effective integration of organics collection.
- Close monitoring will prevent contaminants from being placed in the containers or mulch/compost pile.
- Attendants can assist residents with questions about acceptable materials.
- Simple, concisely worded fliers should be distributed to residents at least at the start of the collection program, and if additional organics (such as food scraps) are added to the program.
- Signage at the point of collection is important to reduce the potential for contamination and to provide additional educational opportunity.
- Website information, along with social media outreach, works well for ongoing education and is low cost.
- If partnering with a business for drop-off opportunities, or if residents have access to a regional drop-off option, promote the specifics and location on the town website.
- In designing the drop-off area it is important to consider the needs of residents with heavy loads.
- The design should work with gravity so that organics can be pushed out of vehicles or dumped from a higher point into a designated container or area located below.
Who’s Doing It?
- The Franklin County Solid Waste District in western Massachusetts, manages four municipal organics drop-off programs at transfer stations in New Salem (population 990), Northfield (population 3,032), Orange (population 7,839), and Whately (population 1,496). Food scraps and soiled paper are collected in the four communities. The District also provides technical assistance for organics composting at schools and special events.
- Windham Solid Waste Management District's Converting Organic Waste composting program (“Project COW”) allows residents and businesses in Vernon, Vermont (population 2,141) and throughout Windham County to compost food scraps. Vernon residents can drop-off food scraps in the “COW container” next to the recycling containers at the Vernon Town Garage. Any Windham County resident or business can use the COW container located at the District’s office in Brattleboro and another drop-off site near the public works facility. Materials are composted onsite at the District.
- The Chittenden Solid Waste District collects food scraps at its seven drop-off centers, including: Hinesburg (population 4,340); Milton population (10,352); Richmond (population of 4,090); and Williston (population 8,698); There is no charge to drop off food scraps and residents are provided with a free 4-gallon bucket with a lid to use in their kitchen.
- Mount Joy is a borough in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (population 6,765). The Mount Joy Compost Site accepts brush and leaves for composting at no charge to town residents. Finished mulch products (leaf and woody) are available for $10 per pick-up truck/small trailer load if loaded by the resident or $20 per front end loader scoop, if loaded by the town; residents may also bring buckets to fill for $10.
- Henniker, a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire (population 4,836) encourages town residents to drop their yard waste at StoneFalls Gardens, a local garden center which uses the organics to make compost.
Adding Food Scraps to Yard Waste Collection
Starting a yard waste composting program and then adding food scraps and soiled paper to the collection at a later date allows for more extensive diversion with relatively minimal additional costs.1
If food scraps and yard waste are collected separately, additional carts, collection routes, and staffing are required. However, if food scraps are added to curbside collection or a drop-off collection program, the volume does not increase substantially and collection is more efficient.
Including soiled paper, meat, and dairy in the compost stream will help achieve a higher rate of organics diversion. Of course, education and outreach have to be effective in convincing residents to overcome the “yuck” factor in combining their food scraps with yard waste.
Creative outreach targeting pizza boxes and paper towels as “new additions” to their yard waste collection can help residents adjust to adding food scraps to their organics collection.
1. Freeman & Skumatz. Best Management Practices in Food Waste Programs
By Athena Lee Bradley