A new service could give environmentally conscious Powell residents something to chew on.

The Compost Exchange, a Columbus company owned by Ray Leard that collects food waste, is two weeks into its curbside composting pilot program in the city.

Spearheaded by two Powell residents, the program is similar to one started in Bexley in 2018.

"I reached out to Ray about a year ago to see if we could bring (curbside composting to Powell)," Courtney Insana said. "I'd been taking (composting) buckets to him at area farmers markets, and during that time I was learning that other cities all over the country were doing this curbside."

"There are a lot of people who are conscious of food waste and want to do something about it but think it's hard or are concerned about the time commitment," said Betsy Effinger. "We thought curbside was the way to go to get more people involved."

Leard, who formerly was part of Innovative Organics Recycling when that company started the program in Bexley, said it's all about education.

"People who compost their food waste are surprised to see how little actual trash is left," Leard said, adding that separating compostable waste from the rest of the trash can cut down on methane gas produced at landfills.

"We just hope to make it easy and convenient," he said.

After presenting to Powell's operations committee in August, Leard, with help from Insana and Effinger, began soliciting Powell residents to sign up for the pilot program.

Curbside composting is voluntary and is not part of the city's trash and recycling pickup.

Residents who sign up receive an "odor- and critter-proof bucket," Leard said, lined with a compostable, plant-based liner, which is exchanged during the weekly curbside pickup.

They also get a "zero waste tool kit" that provides information about what can and can't be put in the compost bucket, he said.

Insana and Effinger recruited by word of mouth and through Facebook posts. Effinger said their first post on Facebook received more than 100 comments in the first day, almost all of which were positive.

Powell residents can go to thecompostexchange.com to sign up. Cost is $16 per month, which can be reduced by purchasing a four-month cycle or by combining with neighbors on a "team" membership.

The program is available in Powell west of state Route 315, east of Sawmill Road, north of the county line and south of Home Road. A second, expanded phase is set to roll out in April 2020.

"It is a change in behavior, which can be difficult, but people who sign up to do it are people who want to do it and understand why, environmentally, they should," Leard said.

"It's amazing to learn the difference it makes in the environment, from greenhouse gases to water runoff, and in your home trash, how little there is," Insana said. "Once people start to realize it's easy, it becomes second nature to separate your food scraps.

"It's a little change that we can make locally."

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