Thursday, July 30, 2015

Curbside Food Scrap Composting in Howard County

Did you know that Howard County has a limited-area curbside food scrap collection program they call "Feed the Green Bin"?

Areas with curbside collection of food scraps shown in red (as of 7/26/15)

The organic waste matter including fruit and vegetable scraps, yard trim, coffee grounds and filters, and even chopsticks that might normally go into the landfill or down a disposal, is instead collected from green recycling bins and taken to an $800,000 composting facility at the Alpha Ridge Landfill.

According to The Baltimore Sun, only 3% of the 34 million tons of food waste nationally in 2010 was sent to a composting facility, mostly on the West Coast.

After the pilot program's Carroll County contractor was forced to shut down, the scraps were shipped to Delaware at $65/ton (as opposed to $45/ton landfill tipping fees), so Howard County decided to build the composting facility to make the effort cost-effective.

After 3 months (half of the normal time for composting), the facility produces bagged organic matter that it is able to sell to help pay for operating costs.

In its first two years, the program diverted 200 tons of waste from the landfill. According to a Howard County study, almost 30% of what is sent to the landfill could be composted.

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