The Town of Woodbridge wants to encourage more residents to compost. Why?
Composting is the process of decomposing organic material, such as food scraps and leaves, into a dark crumbly material containing nutrient and microbes that improves the health and structure of soil, increases moisture and nutrient retention, balances the pH of soil, suppresses disease and pests, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Compost improves soil and everything that grows in it. Healthy soil also sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In our present waste management system, our trash, and the food in it, is transported and burned to ash in a “Waste to Energy” facility in Bridgeport. The ash is buried in a landfill in Putnam, CT. These facilities are aging and, in the case of Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, MIRA, in Hartford, are frequently failing. Consequently, the extra trash is sent to landfills in states as far away as Mississippi. Food in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Food waste accounts for over 20% of our trash by weight. Removing food scraps from trash decreases the cost of processing and transporting trash, reduces associated emissions and pollution, and conserves nutrients.
There are many ways to rescue these nutrients from landfills. Last year Beecher Road School began a successful food composting program, diverting over 1,000 pounds of food from its waste stream every month. Depending on the day, that was 30%-50% of the weight of cafeteria trash. Food scraps were hauled to Quantum in Southington where their anaerobic digestion process produces compost and methane. Quantum uses the methane to generate electricity, which it then sells. For a number of reasons, Woodbridge cannot collect food scraps at the Transfer and Recycling Station. There are companies such as Blue Earth that could offer subscription hauling services for a fee if enough residents are interested. According to our recent survey, there is not much appetite for paying such a service. However, with a small investment of time and money, you can compost your food scraps in your backyard. Many of our residents already do.
To encourage and facilitate composting efforts, the Town of Woodbridge Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee is offering an educational webinar October 14 at 7 PM (visit the Town website for event link) and highly discounted Enviroworld 82-gallon Compost Bins with locking lids. These bins retail around $120. We are able to sell them for $50. While the cost is greatly reduced, we recognize that these are difficult times and we do not want cost to be a barrier. Five bins will be raffled for free and scholarships will be available. The supply of bins is limited.
Check out our flyer on The Town of Woodbridge home page for links to the webinar and email.