Houston launches composting pilot program to reduce waste
By Edward Saenz
Houston is launching a six-week-long program to gather composting materials. The program will give Houstonians an opportunity to not only divert any organic waste from landfills, but also learn about the powers of composting.
Composting is an eco-friendly process of using household ingredients to fertilize and improve the soil. The items that can be used in composting fall into two categories: greens or browns.
Greens are nitrogen-rich food items like fruit and vegetable scraps, bread, and grains, spent coffee and tea grounds, and eggshells to name a few.
Browns are carbon-rich materials that include paper products such as bags and cups, newspapers, old flowers, paper napkins, wood ash, animal and human hair, and utensils that are labeled as compostable.
Composting has a ton of benefits. It is a terrific way to repurpose all the organic waste that people generate at home.
Food scraps make up over 28% of what is thrown into the garbage. Municipal solid waste is the third-largest source of greenhouse emissions, specifically methane, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
That is because landfills lack the proper airflow, moisture, and other conditions necessary for waste to break down.
Waste costs a surprising amount to process. In 2019, the average cost of processing organic waste was $55 per ton, with a total of over 267 million tons of organic waste nationwide.
“Expanding composting opportunities in Houston aligns with the city’s Climate Action Plan and the Solid Waste Department’s draft long-range plan,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference at Herman Square on Oct. 20.
“Whether it’s in our homes or our farms, composting helps to reduce organic wastes, which helps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.”
Originally proposed in June by City Council member Sallie Acorn, the program will have three locations across Houston: Historic Heights Fire Station, Kashmere Gardens Multi-Service Center, and Houston’s Botanic Garden.
Anyone bringing compostable materials is encouraged to save up over several weeks and bring a full collection of appropriate items to any of the three stops. Two composting collection companies, Moonshot and Zero Waste Houston, will be onsite to retrieve the materials.
People will not even have to get out of their cars. The program will run from Oct. 20 through Nov. 27. The composting program is free for residents to use.
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