How Municipal Composting Benefits Cities In The United States

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Americans have healthy appetites and as a nation we often buy more food than we can eat. As we whittle down what is in the refrigerator, there is no way we can eat everything before it spoils and becomes inedible. When this happens, it goes in the trash and later rots in a landfill. Every year it is estimated that Americans waste $1,500 or more in food that either goes bad and gets thrown away.

There is a better way to dispose of food waste. Municipal composting is helping to turn rotten fruits, vegetables, and yard waste into something useful. Several municipalities are turning to composting as a method of reducing strain on landfills, beautifying their cities, and creating a valuable resource that can be used to ease budgets.

Communities looking towards the future

Some of the largest food composting programs are taking place in large cities like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Hoboken, Austin, and Portland. These programs have goals of diverting upwards of 25 percent of the total food waste generated in their communities from landfills into garden beds. While established, these programs are still in their infancy. The communities are still learning the most efficient and effective methods of composting food waste on an industrial scale.

Municipal composting is an investment that pays off

Food and yard waste require special facilities to process. These facilities require space and a considerable investment of capital. However, municipal composting is a solid investment in the future. That is because every person in the community will continue eating and continue tossing their uneaten food in the garbage. The demand for food and waste diversion will remain strong and continue to grow in the future.

After the initial investment in infrastructure is made, municipalities need only to collect and process the food waste into compost. Municipal composting creates jobs within the community and gives leaders something they can take to voters to show they are supporting environmentally friendly ways of reducing waste. Also, the ready supply of compost eases city landscaping budgets and can be sold to consumers when the supply exceeds the community’s needs. Municipal composting can create a revenue stream that can be added to city budgets to be used for everything from education to municipal services.

Barriers to composting

Municipal composting is not as simple as digging a hole and turning the material as it decomposes. Industrial scale composting requires careful planning in order to ensure the process is efficient. Special collection vehicles and facilities that are capable of processing food and yard waste so that glass, plastic, and other contagions are removed are necessary.

The infrastructure needed for municipal composting requires capital investment. Financing is the greatest barrier that municipalities have when they consider implementing mandatory municipal composting programs. However, many consumers are eager to see their communities “go green” because they recognize the long-term benefits of composting.

Another common barrier to municipal composting is the distance to the composting facility from the community. These facilities often fall into the “not in my backyard” category. People want the facility, but they don’t want it nearby. This issue means having to transport waste over large distances, adding expense and time to the process.

The final barrier is the chemistry and science of composting itself. Not only does the process need to be carefully monitored for safety, it must be monitored for efficiency. Making sure that the mix of organic materials is properly decomposing without releasing excessive quantities of greenhouse gases is vital. Also, careful monitoring also includes capturing these gases so that they can be used as a fuel source that can create additional revenue streams.

The possibilities are endless with municipal composting

Food waste flows in from private homes, restaurants, universities, and community institutions. The waste is turned into compost that is used to beautify parks and generate revenue, as well as captured methane gases that power electricity plants. Indeed, the benefits and possibilities for use are limited only by a community’s needs and desires.

Municipal composting requires specialized infrastructure and equipment, including high quality compost turners. Contact the experts at Scarab International today to learn more about how high-quality compost turners can benefit your city. You can call us at (806) 883-7621 or Contact Us by email to learn more about our compost turners and our services. We offer new, refurbished, and used compost turners, as well as leasing options.