June 22, 2011
Allied Waste Services food-waste composting program, one year later
by Nate Rafn
In May 2010, we reported on Allied Waste's food-waste composting pilot program in Salem. At that time, a handful of businesses had agreed to participate, including Cascade Baking Company and Salem Conference Center.
The pilot program was fairly simple. Businesses would collect food waste in specified roll-carts, and Allied Waste would experiment making compost using the various materials they'd receive.
Now that a full year has passed since our first report, we decided to contact Julie Jackson, Recycling Representative with Republic Services, to see how the program has grown.
Living Culture: How has the food waste composting program progressed in Salem and the Mid-Valley since last year?
Jackson: The food waste composting program is progressing in a thoughtful manner. Because we are asking people to rethink what they do with waste, we have intentionally rolled this out slowly. We add new commercial food waste customers each month and are working with them to make sure the program continues to be successful. The response from customers is great and they find the program to be fairly simple to implement.
Living Culture: Are you seeing a lot of participation among business owners?
Jackson: We do add new customers and expect to see growth this year. The Goudy Commons dining hall on the Willamette University campus was one of our first customers, along with the Salem Convention Center. These two large facilities have done a great job putting the food waste program into place. Goudy Commons is especially relevant because they also work to provide local food to students. It’s a great partnership and allows them to close the loop in a way that meshes with their overall philosophy.
Living Culture: Where else are you offering this service?
Jackson: Food waste collection is offered to residents of Salem, Corvallis and Portland on a limited basis. Most commercial customers come from Salem, Corvallis and Portland, but we have others in Lebanon, Albany and Monmouth.
Living Culture: Are gardeners and farmers purchasing finished compost at the Camp Adair site?
Jackson: Finished compost is being used by a wide variety of customers including farms, residents, and commercial nurseries. The finished product is approved by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute: www.omri.org) for use on organic crops. Our compost is also the official compost of the Oregon Garden.
Living Culture: Where else can people purchase compost?
Jackson: People can purchase finished compost from Highway Fuel and Terra Gardens in Salem, Tom’s Garden Center in Albany and Shamrock Landscape and Nursery in Corvallis. We are now selling compost almost faster than we can make it and are encouraged by demand.
Living Culture: Any exciting things coming up soon for Allied Waste?
Jackson: Our compost facility, Pacific Region Compost (PRC), will undergo phase two expansion to handle increasing demand for organics recycling. This will double our capacity. We are currently testing compostable products to increase the number of those products that will be accepted at PRC.
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