Municipal Composting Programs
Studies indicate that more than 25% of the typical household’s waste is composed of yard trimmings and food scraps – material that can be composted. In order to reduce the amount of waste that is deposited in local landfills as well as reducing the cost of disposing of that waste, many municipalities develop “backyard” composting programs and offer them to their residents. Backyard composting programs provide residents with compost bins that can be set up in their yards so residents can manage their own organic waste. This waste product then turns into a great fertilizer or soil amendment in one to 12 months, depending upon the intensity of the participation of the composter (the more the pile is turned, the quicker it decomposes).
To encourage backyard composting, many communities offer compost bins at a reduced price, or in some cases, even offer them free of charge. In every case, it has been determined that the savings that the municipalities see from reduced waste hauling and landfill tipping fees far outweighs the cost of subsidizing the compost bins.
In general, a municipality will purchase bulk quantities of a compost bin, usually at a reduced price. If the bins are offered free of charge, they will often times be made available at commercial or municipal buildings such as city hall, the local library, recycling facilities, hardware stores and/or grocery stores. Typically a picture ID with a local address is all that is required of a resident before he/she can take a compost bin home. In cases where the bins are offered at discount pricing, the community will typically offer them for sale at local farmer’s markets, county fairs, recycling facilities and/or city hall.
Many communities that offer compost bin programs also provide education. This education can range from individuals going door-to-door to homes that have picked up or purchased compost bins to monthly or quarterly composting workshops offered at a community center. It has been found that the more education an individual composter has, the more apt they are to participate in such programs.
If you’re considering implementing a composting program in your community, sign up now for our Municipal Composting Newsletter to get tips and advice. Also, see these helpful links.
- A review of several Pennsylvania communities.
- North Carolina State research on existing backyard composting programs.
- Township of Langley, BC Backyard Composting Pilot Project Report.
- “Encouraging Home Composting the Hands-on Way: Lessons from Charlotte-Mecklenburg”.
- Popular Waynesboro Composting Program Hoping to Expand.
- Spokane County, WA Annually Takes Advantage of Composting Bin Program