We’ve all heard the adage “small actions can make a big difference”. Unfortunately in the case of our local composting program, small actions of carelessness and indifference are wreaking havoc, contaminating the compost material stream and threatening the program’s very existence.
A1 Organics, one of the only processors in the region that accepts food waste for composting, has put haulers throughout the Front Range on notice that the compostables stream coming from both residents and businesses, polluted with everything from household trash to disposable gloves and a dizzying array of plastics, must be cleaned up. Beginning in August, contaminated loads are subject to rejection and landfilling.
In order to produce clean, quality compost, organic waste is held to an extremely low contamination threshold. After all, who wants trash or plastics in their compost? A1 uses a combination of screening and suction to clean their compost, which is effective in removing very small pieces of featherweight plastic but useless against larger pieces of plastic debris or heavier materials. One trash bag can contaminate an entire load of material.
Sorting compostables is a very straightforward process; if it was alive in your lifetime, it can be composted. But attention to detail and vigilance is required. Broccoli can be composted, but the twist tie or rubber band that held the bunch together, and the plastic bag you put it in for its trip home (even though it may be green), cannot. Shredded paper is compostable, but a plastic envelope window or enclosed faux credit card make it trash. Pizza boxes are OK, but not the tape, stickers, and labels that are attached. Is that take-out container, disposable cutlery, or cup really compostable? Click here to find out.
When in doubt, THROW IT OUT.
Following is a list of the most common and problematic offenders. NEVER put these materials in your compost cart or container:
- Trash bags
- Nursery plant containers
- Plastic twine
- Shredded paper mixed with plastic
- Non-compostable utensils, plates, cups, and containers
- Pizza boxes with labels, stickers or tape
- Weed barrier
- Fruit stickers
- Animal waste
- Rubber bands
- Twist ties
- Single-serve condiment packages
- Mesh fruit bags
- Green produce bags
- Any material that is recyclable
Western Disposal will be scrutinizing the contents of carts and containers prior to collecting. Visibly contaminated loads will not be collected, and customers will have the option to remove contaminants or have the material hauled as trash. Fees will apply.
Contamination in the organics stream is a nationwide problem. It is our belief that with a healthy dose of determination and commitment, our community can keep the stream clean and continue to divert our locally-generated organic material from the landfill.