Two pilot programs are underway in Grandview Heights to give area residents a convenient way to compost their leftover pizza crusts and potato peels.

The city is partnering with the Kids that Compost group for a one-year pilot program that will offer a free drop-off location behind the former service department building, 1525 Goodale Blvd.

A second, independent 10-week pilot program led by the Sustainable Grandview group and the Compost Exchange will offer free curbside pickup at residences in Grandview, Marble Cliff and the Fifth by Northwest neighborhood of Columbus, immediately north of Grandview.

That pilot program began Aug. 5 and will continue each Wednesday through Oct. 14, said Andrew Leber, one of Sustainable Grandview's leaders who is helping to coordinate the curbside program.

Residents may request an application by sending an email to rayleard@thecompostexchange.com. An application will be mailed back within 24 hours. The deadline for submitting applications is Thursday, Aug. 13.

The Compost Exchange is a Columbus-based company that serves several central Ohio communities and neighborhoods, including German Village, the Short North, the University District, Clintonville, Worthington, the Near East Side, downtown Columbus and Upper Arlington.

The company also is starting pilot programs this week in Weinland Park/Italian Village, Riverlea, and the Ballantrae, Muirfield and Brandon neighborhoods in Dublin.

Sustainable Grandview is a community action organization founded in 2009 with a goal of promoting a cleaner, healthier, more resilient community, Leber said.

"Food waste is an enormous problem, contributing significantly to climate change and adversely affecting our ecosystem," he said.

Although reducing food production and purchasing is the most important step toward that goal, composting unused food also can make a substantial difference, Leber said.

"The food we take to the landfill doesn't decompose normally and gives off methane gas, which is about 30 times more potent than carbon monoxide as a greenhouse gas," he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service estimates 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted, Leber said.

"Our goal everywhere needs to be diverting as much food waste from landfills as we can," he said.

Residents who already are paying to have their food waste collected by the Compost Exchange will have the 10 free weeks added to their cycles, Leber said.

The fee they pay when regular service returns may be reduced if enough people sign up to continue with the Compost Exchange's curbside program, he said.

"It's an economy of scale," Leber said. "The more people sign up, the lower the monthly charge."

The Compost Exchange will convert the food scraps it collects into nutrient-rich compost and specialty soils.

The drop-off program is being coordinated by Kids that Compost in partnership with the city of Grandview Heights.

Residents will be invited to dump their food scraps in the 54-gallon bin at the former service department building near the Grandview Center.

Go Zero, a food-compost courier, will collect the material and take it to an Ohio EPA-licensed composting facility where it will be converted into soil.

Kids that Compost was founded in September 2019 by Grandview resident Mona Barber to encourage and take advantage of students' interest and passion in composting and other environmental issues.

"Our goal is to empower kids and the community at large to increase the diversion of food waste from our landfills," Barber said. "Students today already have such an interest and passion for this issue. I realized we could go further faster by giving young people a platform for generating their own ideas."

The organization now serves 26 communities through school programs and residential curbside pickups, she said.

"As a Grandview resident, it's really exciting for me to help my community expand the local composting effort," Barber said.

While the interest in composting began to grow in the 1970s and 1980s, "there's a lot more awareness these days," Grandview Heights Mayor Greta Kearns said. "A lot of that is driven by the commitment of millennials and Generation Y."

"There's a Greta Thunberg in every community, if you just give them a platform," Barber said.

The drop-off program "is a great partnership between the city and the Kids that Compost organization to encourage environmental stewardship in our community," Kearns said.

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