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Home Food Composting Program Readying For Local Launch

Published: October 16, 2015

John Voket

    For those who are interested in separating food scraps from trash so it can be made into compost, but do not want to do it in their backyard, Newtown residents are being invited to join a new drop-off program, which will be available in town in the coming weeks.

    The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA) is expanding organics recycling into Newtown this fall. The program will kick off November 14 at Newtown’s Transfer Station, on Ethan Allen Road.

    Participants will receive both a countertop and outdoor collection container at no cost, according to the Public Works Department.

    Newtown residents can get information on signing up for the program by clicking here.

    The HRRA hopes local residents will consider joining the effort to prevent food waste from entering the conventional waste stream and promote a sustainable environment.

    According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), organic materials that are source-separated from the trash are highly recyclable and should be thought of as a resource, not a waste. Significant increases in recycling rates can be achieved through composting and other organics recycling efforts.

    Connecticut DEEP has successfully focused efforts on establishing large-scale leaf composting facilities, promoting home composting and “grasscycling,” and sponsoring pilot programs to compost organics at schools and other institutions.

    These programs have helped keep food scraps, yard trimmings, and grass out of the waste stream, reduce waste handling and disposal costs, return valuable nutrients to the soil, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, thereby decreasing non-point source pollution.

    Connecticut has a history of organics recycling dating back to the late 1980s when the first recycling laws and regulations were passed, and leaves were designated as a mandatory recyclable item.

    Next on the horizon, DEEP will be encouraging the commercial and institutional generators of organics, such as grocery stores, food processors, and universities, to implement food scrap recycling programs, and also working toward encouraging the development of manufacturing facilities to turn those organics into compost products, clean energy, animal feed, and liquid organic fertilizer.

    Bridgewater, part of the Newtown Health District, through its organic curbside program has collected more than 64,000 pounds — or 32 tons — of organic material since it started collecting in April 2015. Material was picked up from the homes of 120-140 Bridgewater residents.

    The material is being processed into rich useable compost and given back to the community each year.

    For those not interested in participating in the curbside pilot program, HRRA encourages an at-home compost pile.

    The authority says composting at home reduces the amount of material being put out at the curb each week, and enables homeowners to turn vegetable and yard waste into a valuable soil conditioner for use on one’s property.

    Finished compost is dark and crumbly and good for the soil. Mix it into the earth before planting flowers and vegetables or use it as mulch to help retain moisture, smother weeds, and help prevent soil compaction.

    Learn to make a home composting bin by clicking here.

    Learn more about the HRRA food waste collection program here.