Wellesley to pilot food waste drop-off program

Wellesley Food Waste ProgramI haven’t been this excited about household trash in some time. I knew that when Jeff Azano-Brown started as the new RDF Superintendent in 2016 (replacing Gordon Martin, who held the post for 37 years) he wanted to join the Department of Public Works, the Natural Resources Commission, and the Sustainable Energy Committee — which make up the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Working Group — in helping to pilot a food-waste program in town. Now, that program is about to become a reality.

The 3R Working Group invites you to participate in a three month pilot program to assess the viability of a food waste drop-off program at the RDF. After signing up, you will be given a free starter kit (paid for by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection grants) including a counter top bucket, compostable bag liners, and a container for transporting your food waste to the RDF. You will also be provided with a brief tutorial on how to use the starter kit and what items to include or not include. During the pilot program you will drop your filled bags into a container located in the trash drop-off area. From there, the food waste will go to a farm or an anaerobic digester to turn into compost or biogas. As a pilot program participant you will be asked to complete follow up surveys to see how things are working and to get any recommendations you may have.

The Starter Kits will be available for pick-up and the area will be open for drop-off starting Tuesday, October 10th. A limited number of starter kits are available and they will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. I’ve already submitted my application and am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be one of the lucky 300 who get to do this (it’s a first-come, first-served system). Yes, I filled out my application before I let this post go live.

To enroll in the pilot and obtain a starter kit, complete this sign up formand click the ‘Submit’ button.

For a list of acceptable items and frequently asked questions, click here for the program flyer. If you have additional questions, please call the RDF at 781 235 7600 x3345.

Here are some FAQs:

HOW DO I SIGN UP?
COMPLETE THE SIGN UP FORM ON THE RDF’S WEBSITE OR STOP BY THE RDF OFFICE FOR ASSISTANCE.

HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?
AFTER YOU REGISTER, YOU’LL RECEIVE EMAIL CONFIRMATION AND INFORMATION ON HOW TO OBTAIN A FREE STARTER KIT WITH A FOOD SCRAP BIN, COMPOSTABLE BAGS AND A 3.5 GALLON BUCKET TO HELP WITH STORAGE AND TRANSPORTATION TO THE RDF. A DESIGNATED DROP-OFF AREA WILL BE LOCATED NEXT TO THE TRASH COMPACTORS.

WHERE IS THE FOOD WASTE GOING?
THE FOOD WASTE WILL BE PICKED UP BY A PRIVATE HAULER AND BROUGHT TO AN ANAEROBIC DIGESTER TO BE TURNED INTO BIOGAS OR TO A FARM TO BE TURNED INTO COMPOST.

HOW IS THIS BEING PAID FOR?
ALL COSTS OF THIS PROGRAM ARE BEING FUNDED THROUGH A MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION GRANT.

WILL THIS ATTRACT PESTS AT THE RDF?
NO. THE FOOD WASTE WILL BE STORED IN A LOCKED CONTAINER, LINED WITH COMPOSTABLE BAGS, TOPPED OFF WITH PINE SHAVINGS, AND PICKED UP REGULARLY.

HOW DO I KEEP THE BIN AND BUCKET CLEAN?
ALWAYS USE THE COMPOSTABLE LINERS AND TIE THEM OFF BEFORE PLACING THEM IN THE 3.5 GALLON BUCKET. THE FOOD SCRAP BIN IS DISHWASHER SAFE AND THE 3.5 GALLON BUCKET CAN BE CLEANED WITH SOAP AND WATER.

WHAT ARE THE ACCEPTABLE ITEMS?
Food scraps; fruits and vegetables; tea bags and coffee grounds; Meats (cooked and raw); eggs, dairy, and baked goods; paper towels and napkins

WHAT ITEMS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE?
Recyclables; boxes, cups, and cartons; cooking oil; yard waste

I’ve posted in the past about my backyard composting operation. I’ll keep up the good work there behind my shed, but what’s exciting to me about the Town’s pilot program is all the food items that will no longer go down my disposal. My compost tumbler is a nifty double-chamber operation and I love it, but I limit the additions to my composter to fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, leaves, and grass. I consider it inadvisable in a small-scale composting concern like mine to include meats and cooked items due to concerns about stinking things up in the neighborhood and the real possibility of attracting pests. Large-scale operations, however, are set up to avoid such problems and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about outsourcing my leftover rotisserie chicken carcasses, stale bread, and moldy brie (hey, this is Wellesley) to a company that can make good use of it.