City residential composting to debut in JP

August 2, 2013
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A new City pilot program to create residential composting is set to debut in Jamaica Plain this weekend.

JP is getting one of three pilot residential composting sites at the weekly Saturday Egleston Farmers Market starting Sat., Aug. 3. People can drop off food scraps at the site for free. The raw compost will be taken by Renewable Waste Solutions to Rocky Hill Farm in Saugus for composting and eventual use, according to the City’s director of food policy, Edith Murnane, a JP resident.

JP has long been Boston’s hot spot of environmental initiatives, including a grassroots recycling program that became the model for the current City curbside program.

The Egleston Square Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall at 45 Brookside Ave. The pilot program will run through October.

The pilot program will also offer drop-off spots in Dorchester and Allston. For more information, contact food@cityofboston.gov.

JP already has a small, local curbside compost company. Bootstrap Compost provides door-to-door food scrap pick-up and then returns with compost.

The push for residential composting came as part of the City’s move to support urban farming. This pilot program will not include curbside composting.

“It’s one issue that kept coming up” as part of that planning process, Murnane told the Gazette.

Composting is the process where food scraps rot into fertilizer in a controlled, odor-free way. Compost fails to decompose adequately when greasy items, meat or dairy products or other unsuitable materials are added.

While it could not be incorporated into City-wide urban farming rezoning efforts, the City’s Office of Food Initiatives and Greenovate Boston program teamed up to hire a part-time coordinator and started a pilot composting program, Murnane said.

“Community composting is not an easy thing to do. It requires that someone actually be at the site,” making sure only appropriate materials are added to the compost, Murnane explained.

“Drop-off composting offers educational opportunities for teaching residents about how adding more of any type of waste to landfills is very expensive for the City and increases our greenhouse gas emissions,” Greenovate Boston Fellow Benita Hussain told the Gazette.

The part-time coordinator will be on-site during each of the three collection times, educating and gathering feedback, Murnane said.

Asked about the potential impact of the City program on such businesses as Bootstrap Compost, Hussain said that a large-scale business was required for the City’s version.

“When selecting a vendor to work with on this pilot, we needed a company that had the ability to operate citywide, and which had experience in food waste hauling on a larger scale, in case we expanded this pilot to more farmers’ markets.  Renewable Waste Solutions is a full-service waste hauling company had that experience,” Hussain said.

Greenovate Boston is Mayor Thomas Menino’s sustainability initiative, which stems from his 2011 Climate Action Plan to reduce the City’s carbon footprint by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.