The impact of the slimy salmon skin, mushy chicken nuggets and leftover mashed potatoes someone scrapes into the trash goes far beyond the bin at the end of the driveway.

That's why the village of Marble Cliff is exploring the possibility of a curbside composting program.

The program would be similar to one in Bexley in which residents can opt to have their food waste picked up weekly.

"We're evaluating our approach to recycling in a more-comprehensive way and looking to see if there is a way we can further reduce what we take to the landfill," Mayor Kent Studebaker said.

"We're losing more and more of our landfill to items that could be handled differently, whether it's composting, recycling or reusing the materials," he said.

Composting would be a way to help reduce the amount of food waste -- scraps as well as uneaten food -- that now goes to the landfill, Studebaker said.

According to the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, food waste makes up about 12.8 percent of the materials in Franklin County's waste stream, he said.

Marble Cliff is considering contracting with Columbus-based Innovative Organics Recycling, which provides the composting service to Bexley and elsewhere.

Innovative Organics Recycling provides residents who sign up for the program with resealable 5-gallon containers and a supply of plant-based compostable liners.

The containers previously were used to transport pickles to restaurants, said Ray Leard, owner of Innovative Organics Recycling.

"They were used one time and were going to be thrown out," he said. "We were lucky to connect with the manufacturer to collect thousands of these buckets for our use."

The buckets' design makes them virtually impenetrable to animals and odor-free, Leard said.

"That's probably one of the biggest misconceptions people have about composting," he said. "They think the food they put in the containers is going to result in a really bad smell."

It's a common question he hears at a number of central Ohio farmers markets, where residents can sign up to drop off their buckets of food refuse at Innovative Organics Recycling's booth, Leard said.

"I'll have 100 buckets right behind me, and when someone asks me, 'Doesn't the food smell?' I show them all the buckets and ask them, 'Do you smell anything?' And they can't smell anything," he said.

The animal issue is particularly important to Marble Cliff, Studebaker said.

The Tri-Village area has a large population of transient wildlife, he said.

"The railroad tracks provide an open pathway for the critters; we have mature vegetation and the river provides a source of water," Studebaker said.

In Marble Cliff, some residents compost in open containers or bins in their backyards, he said.

"The problem with open composting is that is offers a source of food for the animals," Studebaker said.

A more-controllable method of composting using the type of containers provided by Innovative Organics would help reduce animals foraging in the village, he said.

Village officials want to avoid making Marble Cliff an exit ramp for animals on their travels, Studebaker said.

Bexley started its composting effort as a pilot program in November 2017, Service Director Bill Dorman said.

Containers were distributed to blocks where at least 75 percent of households signed up to participate, he said.

"We were hoping for maybe 100 households, but we ended up with about 400 households participating, which is about 10 percent of the homes in our community," Dorman said. "We had participants in every part of our community."

During the pilot program, Bexley was able to divert more than 40 tons of food waste from the landfill, he said. That's equal to about 20 tons of methane gases, 2,050 gallons of gasoline and 2.3 years worth of electricity saved for an average household.

"By any measure, the program was a success," Dorman said.

Bexley expanded the program to the entire city at the end of February. Any of the approximately 4,200 households in the city can sign up for the program, Dorman said.

After the first few weeks, about 1,300 Bexley residences have opted in, he said.

A $1.87 monthly charge to fund the composting program is included in trash bills sent to every household in Bexley, whether they choose to participate in the composting program or not, Dorman said.

"We're expecting to see the level of participation continue to grow steadily," he said.

"That's what usually happens," Leard said. "Someone sees their neighbor composting and sees how easy it is and they want to do it, too."

Before making a final decision about establishing a curbside composting program in the village, Marble Cliff officials will contact Bexley to learn more about its effort and will need to determine with Innovative Organics what the actual cost would be, Studebaker said.

"We would be looking to offer this service to our residents just as we do other services," he said.

Trash collection and recycling in the village is handled by the city of Grandview Heights through a service contract that runs through 2026. The city also provides the village with police, fire, EMS, parks and recreation, maintenance and other public services through the agreement.

The village may be able to apply for a grant through SWACO that provides funding for community recycling efforts, including food-waste diversion, Studebaker said.

Innovative Organics also collects food waste in neighborhoods along the High Street corridor.

"We're able to collect not only the food scraps, like banana peels or coffee grounds, but things like meat and fish and chicken bones," Leard said. "What we say is, 'if it grows, it goes' into our containers."

The food refuse is brought back to Innovative Organics' east Columbus headquarters and put through an industrial shredder, beginning a three-month process in which the material is converted into compost or soil.

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