Fayetteville receives grant for mobile food waste collection and compost education program

Courtesy photo

The city’s Recycling and Trash Collection Division this week was awarded a $73,870 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help start a new mobile food waste collection unit and composting education program.

City Council members on Tuesday held a special meeting to authorize Mayor Lioneld Jordan to accept the grant for the new program that’s designed to help encourage resident participation in food-waste composting, as well as educating the public about the importance of composting, and reduce the amount of organic material that is deposited in the landfill.

The grant, along with matching funds from the city and the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District, will help purchase and set up a trailer that can be parked on the downtown square during the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market to collect compostable food waste from residents. The money will also fund the hiring of a compost educator position to facilitate the program and provide educational programming, both at the Farmers’ Market and at special events and for local schools, civic organizations, and other institutions.

The program will provide participating residents with 3.5-gallon food-waste containers that can be sealed and kept within their homes. Residents will then bring their containers with them when shopping at the Farmers’ Market or attending other Fayetteville events to drop their food waste into larger containers on the trailer. The food waste will then be delivered to the Fayetteville Compost Facility, where it will be mixed with yard waste to produce nutrient-rich compost for purchase. The city will begin development of the program this fall and plans to begin accepting food waste at the trailer twice a week in the spring of 2021.

“Many people are not aware that organic material like food that goes into our landfill contributes to the production of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global climate change,” said Peter Nierengarten, the city’s environmental director. “As a community, we can help reduce the amount of methane we produce by working together to get food waste and other organic material out of our garbage bins and into productive compost programs.”

The Recycling and Trash Division has set a goal to reach a 40% landfill diversion rate by the year 2027. With 18% of Fayetteville’s landfill materials coming from organic food waste, expanding the compost program is seen as the next important step toward that goal.

Since the city’s food waste compost program began, it has expanded and increased the amount of organics processed from 37.25 tons in 2017 to 528.5 tons in 2019.

Residents can purchase and pick up food waste compost for $35 per scoop (two cubic yards) and yard waste compost for $25 per scoop at the city’s Compost Facility at 1708 E. Armstrong Ave. Delivery is also available for $75 per scoop and offers a woody yard waste mulch for pickup at $10 per scoop.