As the world prepares to mark Earth Day on Friday, momentum is building for a curbside composting pilot program that is on track to serve 500 households across the city by this coming fall. Supported by a $60,000 state Urban Agenda Grant, the initiative builds on an existing collaboration between the City, the Greenfield-based Compost Cooperative and other stakeholders. The cooperative has recruited and trained five new members and purchased the buckets, compostable bags and other materials needed to expand.
The Compost Cooperative is an entrepreneurial worker-owned business that identified an economic opportunity to participate in the green economy by diverting compostables from the waste stream, while building living-wage ownership opportunities and access to affordable housing with and for people impacted by incarceration and others who face barriers to employment.
“This Earth Day, we really have something to celebrate! Diverting food scraps from the waste stream is one effective thing we can do to address the climate crisis,” said cooperative Worker-Owner Revan Schendler. “In landfills, food scraps and other organics produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Incinerators, where most of our trash is burned, contribute to high childhood asthma rates in our region. An alternative is creating high quality compost that adds nutrients to the soil and makes it more resilient against increasing severe weather events.”
Customers of the cooperative are able to divert much more than they would be able to using a backyard composter – such as meat and bones, compostable containers and even oily pizza boxes. The cooperative estimates the pilot program will divert 104 tons of scraps a year from the waste stream and create 208 cubic yards of nutrient-rich compost.
“This initiative aligns with the City’s 2014 Sustainable Greenfield Master Plan and helps put the ‘Green’ in Greenfield,” said Community Development Administrator Lindsay Rowe. “This pilot project will provide more accessible food waste diversion options for residents in Greenfield and build economic opportunity among people who face barriers to employment.”
More information about the composting program is available online at thecompostcooperative.com. The Urban Agenda Grant Program is designed to support community development that is grounded in collaboration and focused on economic opportunities with local significance.