According to the EPA, 28% of the 4.4 lbs. of trash generated daily by the average American is organic material, split about evenly between food waste and yard waste. That’s almost a ton a year for a family of four. Landfilled organics are the single largest source of methane in the U.S., a potent greenhouse gas that is 23 times more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
With these facts in mind, it certainly makes sense to compost as much as possible, especially since the yard and food waste Western collects is processed right here in town, reducing impacts even further by minimizing greenhouse gases associated with transportation.
Acceptable material for composting is fairly straightforward. It includes all your yard waste, all food and food scraps*, paper products including greasy pizza boxes, napkins, coffee filters, paper towels and modest amounts of shredded paper. Always avoid putting any type of plastic, metal or glass in the compost.
When it comes to disposable food service items, proceed with caution. Many cups and take out containers are lined with a thin plastic film and are unsuitable for composting. If you have an item but are not sure if it can be composted, look for a label from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) stating that it is compostable. Additionally, a product may state that it is ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6868 certified which is a certification for compostable materials. Finally, there may just be the familiar chasing arrows with a “7” inside and the letters “PLA”. This indicates it is made with plant based materials such as corn or sugar cane and is compostable. In warmer months, fruit flies and odors can be a barrier to composting, but there are several approaches that can be used to eliminate these problems:
- Keep a small compostable bag in your freezer and deposit the food waste there as you generate it. Pull it out and put it in your compost cart on compost day.
- If you’re not in an area where bears are a concern, store scraps in a 5-gallon pail with a lid on your back deck or porch.
- Deposit food scraps directly into your compost cart and layer with newspaper or pieces of cardboard to absorb moisture.
- Place a bathroom size trash can under the sink lined with a compostable bag. Keep it loosely tied while not in use to keep odor in and flies out.
- Purchase a container with a tight fitting lid and keep on your counter top.
- Check the internet for any number of “recipes” to combat fruit flies. We find a glass of cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap to be an elegantly simple solution.
Printable guidelines are available for download at www.westerndisposal.com. If you have additional questions post them on Facebook or send us an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Exceptions apply in parts of southwest Boulder County due to wildlife concerns