Local Business Man Proposes Curbside Compost Pickup Pilot Program

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As the city of Athens was reportedly the first city in Ohio to offer curbside recycling pickup, one local businessman is hoping the city will be the first in Ohio to offer compost curbside pickup as well.

Ray Leard, owner of The Compost Exchange in The Plains, approached Athens City Council on Monday evening about starting a pilot program in the city of Athens for curbside compost pickup. He said he’d like to start with approximately 100 households in the city to see if the program is a viable one.

“This could be a good way for our residents to defer more food waste from the waste streams and thus the landfills around us that are getting ever fuller,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran.

According to Leard, about 30 percent of the waste stream is organic recyclables.

Leard proposed providing compost buckets with lids to residents to put out at the curb with their trash and recyclables for pick-up. He said his company would pick up the compost for free and take the materials to his processing facility located in the Bill Theisen Industrial Park on Poston Road.

Leard said if the pilot project shows that residents are interested in the service, he’d like to see garbage or recycling haulers begin picking up the materials in the future.

Councilwoman Michele Papai asked if any other cities in Ohio are doing curbside compost pickup. Leard said that compost is currently only collected from the industrial sector, not residential customers, in Ohio.

“Part of the idea is to prove that it’s possible, that, ‘Hey, look what Athens is doing,’” Leard said. “It will be a learning process for sure.”

Many Council members expressed support for the idea, but suggested that Leard approach the city’s sustainability and environment commission first. The commission would hash out the details of the pilot project and make recommendations to Council. Leard proposed that the pilot program be eight to 10 weeks long.

First Ward Councilman Kent Butler said that several westside residents have expressed an interest in curbside composting to him. It was suggested that if the pilot program moves forward that a select number of residents from all corners of the city be involved.