Monday, December 22, 2008

Compact: Compost

Thanks Mom for that last post, and the question you raised: "I'm wondering how common this is becoming...does your city provide composting services? Seattle composts, so if you pay for yard waste removal with your garbage service, they'll also take & use your food waste." And thank you to Clark for that comment. For those who missed it, he said that in Evanston, IL (outside of Chicago) there is no "kitchen waste" composting and even the composting of yard waste has been discontinued due to "funding, odor, and rodent issues." So, I was wondering how Seattle handles our compost in a way to avoid these issues as much as possible.

I found the answer at

"City staffers deliver residential compostable material to the Cedar Grove plant north of Everett (Cedar Grove staff manages the collection for commercial operations). After initially collecting in the tipping room (where truckloads are unloaded), materials travel along a conveyor belt, where metal and plastics are removed. The waste is then formed into piles and covered.

Cedar Grove uses GoreTM Cover Membrane Laminate Technology, a system of specialized covers, and regularly monitors temperature and moisture in the compost heaps. The high heat achieved in Cedar Grove's large-scale processing kills any weeds and pathogens, and also meets the standards for organic certification. After the two-stage heat aging process (approximately 21 and 30-45 days respectively), bagged compost is aged for an additional 18 months to ensure quality. Bulk compost is aged 6 to 12 months.

Finally, the bags of organic compost are delivered to stores around Seattle, where residents can purchase the natural fertilizer for use in their own yards. For homeowners, landscapers, gardeners, organizations like Seattle Tilth, and others, this would-be waste has become a wonderful resource!"

And from an article in The Seattle Times, I learned something very interesting. In San Fransisco, the birthplace of the Compact, they had composting nearly perfected as far back as 2003. " waste travels a 150-mile loop from restaurant to composting facility to vineyard and back. 'We're closing the nutrient loop and keeping food from just wasting in a landfill,' said Jack Macy, who runs San Francisco's food-recycling program."

I encourage Compacters and Compact followers alike to look into their city's compost program and find out how they can help to reduce in this fundamental way. If your city does not offer composting, starting your own program is easy. Many ways of composting can be found at

1 comment:

lynna said...

In Rio Rancho NM (just outside Albuquerque) they recycle Christmas trees. Last year every recycled tree was mulched and then used again my residents for landscaping; no waste remained. Pretty amazing.