Thursday, July 31, 2014

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City launches curbside compost collection in select neighborhoods

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TWC News: City launches curbside compost collection in select neighborhoods
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City leaders want you to think twice before you toss out egg shells, apple cores and greasy pizza boxes. All may soon be collected as part of a curbside compost program from Austin Resource Recovery.

Right now, 7,900 Austin families across different neighborhoods throughout the city are testing out the program.

Everything from meats, tea bags, banana peels and Christmas trees can be thrown in the big, green cans—perhaps too big for customers like Inez Douglas.

"Now I get this big one here, and I cannot handle it and I'm not going to take a chance on falling," Douglas said.

It’s feedback like Douglas’ which helps Vidal Maldonado with Austin Resource Recovery improve the program before the city rolls it out across all of Austin.

"That's how we decide how to move forward and what size cart is the optimal size," Maldonado said.

Along with the big cart, customers get a small food scrap collector bin. They are small enough to put on a countertop or underneath a sink. Families can dump the contents into the bigger container for collection.

Maldonado's looking to other cities with established curbside compost pickup—like Seattle and Portland—to see what to modify for Austin.

"It will probably double the weight that we currently collect in yard trimmings,” he said. “That's a substantial amount of weight being diverted from the landfill."

Planners hope the program will also cut down garbage disposal waste, which makes it more difficult to treat wastewater.

"There's bones and stuff you can't put down the garbage disposal, and banana peelings like they said to put in there," Douglas said. "When you get older, you look for the easy ways out. You don't look for the hard ways."

The pilot program cost about $500,000 to launch—mainly to purchase the green carts.

Maldonado says that could be offset by landfill savings over time.
By 2040 the city hopes to be recycling 90-percent of its waste.

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