by Anne Rollins
Composting kitchen scraps is becoming a big business. Prince George’s and Howard counties are experimenting with programs for collecting and composting food waste, largely to keep the garbage out of landfills. But the resulting compost is also proving very marketable (see The Washington Post story “Turning Food Scraps Into ‘Gold’”).
If you’ve ever mixed Leafgro into your soil, you have used a form of compost produced by Prince George’s and Montgomery counties from yard waste. But compost from food waste is considered richer and much more likely to be free of environmental contaminants such as pesticides and weed killers and, made correctly, can be labeled organic.
One of the many goals of the Sustainable DC plan is for the city to significantly reduce the amount of trash it sends to land fills, in part by collecting and composting food waste. A pilot program was started in 2013, but a high level of contaminants such as metals and plastics mixed in with the food scraps halted the experiment after only a few months.
According to Sustainable DC’s most recent progress report in April, the District was still looking for a solution to this problem, particularly a nearby facility that will accept and compost DC’s food waste. The Prince George’s and Howard county programs use only material from within their boundaries.
In the meantime, several companies have emerged to serve businesses and residents who want to divert their food scraps from the trash. For residential customers, these companies typically provide special bins and pick up once a week for a $25 to $32 monthly fee. Customers receive up to 40 or 50 pounds of finished compost in return (or can designate a local community garden or other charitable organization), sometimes depending on how much waste they put out for collection.
Clearly, most participating residents have reasons for signing up other than getting compost in return. As one of the companies, Compost Cab, says on its website: “So what’s in it for you? Cleaner air. Less waste. A smaller carbon footprint. A greener home. A stronger community. Incredible new soil. Isn’t composting awesome?”
Whether or not you think that composting is awesome, you may be interested in checking out a few local companies that collect food scraps for composting.