Curbside recycling has become common throughout most cities in central Ohio, and by this point we all are aware of the importance of reducing waste sent to the landfill.
One emerging service that serves the same purpose of diverting waste is curbside composting. According to SWACO, about 13% of material sent to the landfill is food waste. Unfortunately, only about 5% of food waste is composted.
Some communities across the country already have begun to offer curbside composting services; they include Seattle, Iowa City and even our dreaded neighbors up north in Ann Arbor.
Locally, Bexley offers this service to all residents. In late 2017, a pilot program was launched with 400 participants and Innovative Organics Recycling as the collection company. The result was 40 tons of food waste being diverted from the landfill over a 14-month period. Participation and interest in the program was so great that in 2019, the service became available citywide. Currently, about 750 homes are part of the program.
The way it works is simple: Participants receive a 5-gallon bucket with a snap-shut lid. The lid keeps critters out and any potential odors trapped in. Once a week the containers are set at the curb and picked up just like trash and recycling. The waste then is taken to a facility at which it is shredded, processed and composted.
Just about anything you would eat is fair game for the container. Even meat and bones, which are difficult to compost at home due to odor and animals, may be composted through this process.
Although subscription-based services to individual homes have been in existence for years, Bexley is the first to bring composting to the municipal level. The Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission is following the Bexley experiment closely to determine if Hilliard could be fertile ground for a similar program.
Any initial program would be limited in size initially. It is important to first be sure the process works and there is an interest among residents.
Participation would be voluntary. The cost for a participating resident is likely to be only $5 per month, or about 1/4 of the amount we pay for waste-removal services. The ESC also will explore alternative funding sources that could drive that cost even lower for each participant.
There is a lot of research that remains to be done and logistics to consider, but food waste is a major frontier in the battle to reduce landfill-bound solid waste – and the ESC is focused on making sure that Hilliard remains a leader in sustainable solutions.
Stay tuned for additional information as this process unfolds at gogreenhilliard.com.
Hilliard City Councilman Pete Marsh is the council liaison to the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.