The city of Upper Arlington has launched a program to encourage residents to compost, thereby helping to create "super soil" in the region and reduce the amount of matter going into area landfills.

Last summer, Upper Arlington partnered with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to provide outreach to residents about what items may or may not be recycled.

That involvement brought city officials in touch with a Springfield-based GoZERO Services, a nonprofit "food waste compost courier" established in 2016 that seeks to address logistical issues associated with collecting food-waste separately from traditional waste.

The connection led to the establishment of a food waste program, which Upper Arlington launched May 6.

The voluntary program is a pilot and has no costs for the city or residents who choose to take part.

It encourages residents to collect food scraps at home in their own lidded buckets.

Once containers are full, residents can dump them into lime-green containers at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road, at the south end of the building by the Upper Arlington Police Division entrance, or at the city's Public Service Center, 4100 Roberts Road, at the north corner of the front parking lot.

The container at the Public Service Center might be moved to a "more convenient" spot for residents. Both receptacles are clearly marked with the GoZERO logo.

From there, GoZero collects the waste from the containers on a regular schedule, making sure to give them a thorough cleaning between loads.

GoZero then transports the waste to a commercial composting facility, where it is processed and ultimately made into nutrient-rich compost.

"Feedback from residents indicated that there was a need for the program in the community," said Katy Rees, a performance analyst with the Upper Arlington Public Service Division. "While backyard composting can be very rewarding, it is hard work and if not done correctly can attract unwanted pests (or) wildlife.

"And other local communities have already started food waste programs, including Bexley, Worthington and Grandview."

Rees said a recent SWACO report estimated that 13% of all material sent to the Franklin County landfill is food waste.

"By diverting this waste from the landfill, we extend the life of the landfill. And there is an environmental benefit, as well," she said. "In the landfill, food waste becomes a powerful contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions.

"By composting this material, the generation of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, is avoided."

David Andre, GoZERO founder and executive director, compared putting too much food waste into landfills to a person eating too much junk food.

"It's not healthy for the region," Andre said. "Organic matter wants to break down; things want to compost.

"We put stuff in plastic bags, haul it in diesel trucks and encapsulate it in dirt so it can't break down. It goes against how nature is designed to break things down."

Andre added that maintaining landfills is a "stressor" on society because it "takes time, money and other resources to find places for trash."

He said composting scraps such as apple cores or banana peels help keep that waste from going to landfills.

Moreover, he said, using compost in soils enriches the soil's nutrients.

"I like to think of compost as super food for soils, super food for plants," Andre said.

Rees said that for Upper Arlington's program to be successful, residents need to follow guidelines for what can and can't be composted.

* Accepted materials: raw or cooked meat, small bones, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy, fruits, vegetables, peels, flour, bread, pasta soups, sauces, oils, fats, dressings, condiments, seafood and shells, nuts and spices.

"Remove any PLU/UPC stickers, wrappers, rubber bands, twist ties, bags, plastics and trays before composting," the city's website states.

* Not accepted: milk (or) juice cartons or jugs, store-bought floral products or any yard waste.

"We plan to have the program in place for at least one year to gauge its success," Rees said.

"We hope to expand the drop-off sites as interest grows in the community."

Additional information about the food-waste program can be obtained by contacting Rees at 614-583-5350 or public.service@uaoh.net.

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