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Boise's Curbside Composting Program, Curb It 2.0, Closer to Reality

by

GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice


In March, we reported
 on a plan at Boise City Hall to offer curbside composting to residential customers of Republic Services.

"We want to design a program that meets the needs of an incredibly broad range of customer," said Catherine Chertudi, environmental programs manager for the City of Boise. "If indeed we go down this path, we have to have a program that works as well for someone who lives in a townhome or condo as someone in traditional home."

Now, a proposal dubbed Curb It 2.0 will go before the Boise City Council on Tuesday, May 24. Curb It was introduced in 2009, and Chertudi said today, the program for recycling services includes 97 percent of Boise households—in 2015 alone, more than 12,400 tons of recyclables were collected.

Organic waste makes up more than 45 percent of all waste delivered to the landfill from Boise homes. Each person in Boise is responsible for approximately 390 pounds of organic materials in the dump. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Organic waste makes up more than 45 percent of all waste delivered to the landfill from Boise homes. Each person in Boise is responsible for approximately 390 pounds of organic materials in the dump.
A jaw-dropping amount of organic waste—particularly food—makes its way to the Ada County Landfill: According to a recent trash "census," it adds up to more than 53,000 tons each year. The analysis revealed more than 52,000 tons of yard debris also makes its way to the landfill—34,500 tons of which is from single-family homes in Boise. Ultimately, about 45 percent of all waste sent to the landfill is organic.

So when the City of Boise decided to move forward with a plan to turn organic waste into nutrient-rich compost, the obvious choice on where to operate a composting facility seemed to be the Ada County Landfill, but when asked if they were interested in the concept, landfill managers said, "No."

"We have some neighbors that are quite sensitive to the landfill's odor already," said Ted Hutchinson, Ada County deputy solid waste manager. "As a result of the odor issues, the use of the county landfill property was taken off the table."

Undeterred, the City of Boise has decided to develop a composting facility on nine acres of unused land at the city-owned Twenty-Mile South Biosolids Farm, 20 miles south of Boise.

Below are some highlights of the proposed plan:
  • Residential customers only at this time
  • Kitchen scraps and yard waste would be collected—this would include Christmas trees, leaves and "woody wastes"
  • The city would sell about 50 percent of the compost to commercial interests
  • The remaining compost would be available to city facilities and the public at no charge
  • Waste would be collected weekly using new 95-gallon wheeled carts
The business of garbage, let alone composting, can be costly, which is why the city and Republic Services are proposing a $3.40 rate increase to pay for carts, collection and composting.

If all goes as planned, the rate increase will go into effect in October, and the curbside collection plan will be rolled out by March 2017.