Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Urban composting

Metrocurean has an article, "Composting in the City? Yes, You Can!," about a DC composting service, Compost Cab, that charges $8/week to pick up your stuff, or $2 to drop it off at the Dupont Farmers Market.

The City of Seattle started composting throiugh their trash pick up program in 1989, although they didn't start including food waste until 2005. Montreal does it too. The Lower East Side Ecology Center in Manhattan takes compostable materials at the Union Square Greenmarket. Other cities also have composting as part of their solid waste management and reduction policies, it is still a relatively new thing. From the Seattle Times article "Seattle piles on to its national leadership in composting":

Analysts at Seattle Public Utilities say Seattle residents are recycling food at 10 times the national average. They also say Seattle's compost rates climbed 47 percent between 2008 and 2009. ...

During 2009, Seattle Public Utilities measured 26,400 tons of food scraps collected from Seattle residents' homes, enough to make nearly 10,000 tons of compost. According to the utility, a Seattle family of four recycles about 220 pounds of food, which yields 80 pounds of compost.

The city has collected more compost each year since 2005, when it first began collecting food scraps. But the 2008 to 2009 increase is the largest.

Jenny Bagby from Seattle Public Utilities attributes the increase to two 2009 policy changes. Seattle Public Utilities switched from bi-weekly to weekly pickups for yard waste and food scraps while also allowing residents to place all food scraps in their yard-waste bins. Before the change, residents couldn't recycle foods like steak or eggs into their bins.

Half of Seattle's restaurants do commercial composting. See "New Seattle law will cook restaurant waste into compost" and "Food-waste composting: recycling's next frontier" from the Seattle Times. And San Francisco was ahead of Seattle on the food waste front.

One of the reasons that DC may not be motivated to be at the forefront of solid waste management and reduction policy and practice has to do with the fact that Fairfax County buys DC's trash to burn in a waste to energy plant.

In the DC region, Montgomery County is particularly active in promoting composting, and they compost yard waste (leaves, grass, etc.), but they don't pick up food scraps.

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