EGREMONT -- Town officials are hoping to reduce the cost of trash hauling and disposal, at the same time providing premium fertilizer to residents, by establishing a food waste compost at the transfer station.
Yard waste composting by towns is a fairly common practice, but food waste composting by towns is somewhat rare, according to Juliette Haas, Egremont's sustainability coordinator.
"This is a very low-tech approach, and very doable for a town our size," Haas said. "And I'm hoping it will spur interest in other towns."
Already, other ‘recycle and reduce' initiatives have cut 10 percent of the town's overall solid waste tonnage, saving money and fuel, and reducing greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.
For the composting effort, which began in early August, the town's highway department built a three-bin composting center at the transfer station using recycled concrete cubes, Haas said.
Interested residents can pick up a container in which to keep the kitchen scraps, and when it comes time to take trash to the transfer station, they dump the scraps into the first bin and head back home.
Every week, town workers will use a backhoe to turn the compost pile, and after a couple of months will move it into the second bin for further aging. Roughly six months later, the pile will be moved into the third bin, at which point it will be ready to use as fertilizer.
"I like to demonstrate that in small towns we can do some really progressive things," Haas said. "And this is so simple -- we're just capitalizing on the principles of nature."
And by reducing the amount of food waste dumped in a landfill, the amount of methane gas generating by rotting trash will also be reduced, Haas said, noting that methane is four time more harmful to the planet than CO2.
Already, there have been about 50 composting bins issued to residents, Haas said, and the word is still spreading.
"I would love to see another 50-ton reduction in solid waste going to the landfill," Haas said. "That would save the town another $5,000 a year."
The Egremont transfer station is at 171 Egremont Plain Road. For more information, call (413) 528-0182, ext. 22.
To reach Scott Stafford:
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford