Monday, January 04, 2010

Turning Commercial Food Waste Into Valuable Compost

A northern California town is launching a compost collection program that includes all commercial food wastes -- including meat and bones, which currently cannot go into backyard-type compost bins.

The new program will essentially pay for itself since the fees that the city has to pay to dump its garbage will be sufficiently reduced (a result of having less garbage to dump) to leave them with the cash needed to cover the cost of the composting effort.  Since the environmental benefits of the program include reduced landfill emissions of the heat trapping gas, methane, as well as creation of free fertilizer that can be sold to the region's citizens and wineries, it's got strong prospects to be a winner.

Reports the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

Officials estimate 30 percent of the current waste going to landfills is compostable food scraps. Sealed in a landfill, the food emits methane, a toxic gas and a contributor to global warming.

A better choice, officials say, is composting. In a mixture of micro-organisms, air and heat, food scraps can be turned into soil in a matter of weeks, a more sustainable solution than the landfill.

“I believe in it,” said Nick Peyton, manager of Healdsburg Bar and Grill and a principal owner of Cyrus. “Restaurants turn out a tremendous amount of waste. This cuts down the waste by a huge amount. Instead of having just a whole ton of garbage, you have a lot of compost and a lot less garbage.”

The cost of the food waste recycling should not impact garbage rates, according to North Bay Corp. That's because start-up expenses should be offset by the decrease in the amount of garbage — and cumulative dumping fees — at the landfills.

We compost all the food scraps we can in our backyard bin.  It's quick and easy, but I sure do wish there was something I could do with meat scraps (which fortunately, we don't have many of).

I look forward to watching this type of win-win program expand to homes and businesses across the state and country.

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