Did you know that Portland is actually late in the game when it comes to curbside residential food composting? It's true: We are lagging behind other cities across the country. According to BioCycle magazine, "more than 90 towns and cities in the United States already offer collection of food scraps and food-soiled paper - and more are considering it every day." Tons of mixed organic waste produces high levels of methane, a volatile greenhouse gas that causes climate change.
From pilot programs in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Colorado to regional programs in Alameda County, California and King County, Washington -- and let's not forget Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- residents are changing their habits. And some cities, like San Francisco and Seattle, dared to make residential organics collection mandatory for all.
Here's a look at what other cities are doing with their food scraps:
Dubuque: Dubuque’s residential organics collection program started as a two-year pilot in 2006, but is now permanent, offered to all 57,000 residents.
Cedar Rapids: Cedar Rapids began allowing residents to place vegetative food waste in their yard trimmings carts in 1999!
Seattle: Seattle's mandatory food scrap collection program has a participation rate of over 90 percent. Households may opt out of the program if they can demonstrate that they already compost at home.
San Francisco: The first of its kind in the U.S., San Francisco's ordinance requires residents and businesses (including apartment buildings) to separate organics and recyclables from the garbage.
ELSEWHERE IN OREGON
About a year ago, Salem and Keizer were the first cities in Oregon to participate Marion County's curbside collection of meat, produce and other food scraps for composting. Having a commercial composting facility nearby made the quick transition possible.
Portlanders can take the credit for making our city a national leader in recycling, and let’s hope that enthusiasm will carry forward once curbside collection of food scraps begins on Oct. 31. Keep up with our food composting program as Portland catches up: www.portlandcomposts.com.