Contract for Compost Pickup Pilot Program Expected by June

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This summer, the City of Athens expects to follow through on its efforts for zero waste.

Andrea Reany, Zero Waste program manager for Rural Action, said a weekly compost pickup program is expected to be included in a June contract renewal between the city and the Athens Hocking Recycling Center.

The proposed city pilot program will collect organic waste of 300 customers weekly, along with their trash and recycling. Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers will be the service provider, taking the food waste and processing it into nutrient rich soil. Participants will be responsible for cleaning out their containers.

Participants in the pilot program will get their own compost bin.

City Goals

The pilot program’s goal is to develop a system that can be used citywide and eventually allow residents to compost all their organic waste through Athens Hocking Organics facility. Reany said the pilot will work toward Athens’ sustainability goals.

“The City of Athens has recently adapted their sustainability action plan, and in it, it says by 2020, the city will have started composting 50 percent of its organic waste,” she said. “Right now only a very small percentage of that is being composted, just through optional programs that residents can participate in.”

For Reany, a successful pilot program would mean developing an understanding between the service provider, the city and the participants, as well as ensuring communication and education is open and freely flowing.

Reany said she plans to use feedback from participants of the pilot program to improve and expand into a full-fledged program.

Reany said she expects to spend $12,900 to promote the program and educate those wishing to participate. That money will come from the city trash and recycling fund, which has reported a surplus.

Difficulty Level

Meg Little, a master’s student in Ohio University’s environmental program, said she is excited at the possibility of an entire city reducing their waste.

“It’s just so exciting to think about how much waste is not going to go to landfills, when you build a system across the city,” she said.

Little already composts at home, and said she would not mind paying a fee to help the program gain footing. She said composting will be easy for beginners participating in the pilot program.

Meg Little tends to her compost pile.

“It’s so easy,” she said. “We don’t compost meat here, but everything else just goes into the compost and you know what’s food.”

With the pilot program, residents can compost their fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and grass clippings. Recruitment for the pilot will begin this May, and the program should begin in August, lasting for six months.