Composting is Complicated


Safeway stores along the east coast ship everything from flowers to coffee grinds and spoiled vegetables to their Maryland return center, which then must be transported at least another 100 miles to be recycled into composting.  An exercise that takes place in excesses of 5 times a week. Jack Jacobs, Director of Distribution of Safeway’s Eastern Division, said he prefers he did not have to ship it so far away.

Although composting can work for large institutions ranging from hospitals to universities as well as deliver diversion results from landfills, it has its challenges. Composting is complicated.  Food scraps are heavy making them expensive to transport. Compost collectors have a limited number of places to deposit their hauls. Many communities have contracts with waste incineration sites, making it hard to develop organic recycling sites. But perhaps the biggest challenge is the push back from the waste haulers.  Major trash industry operators such as Waste Management have fought government requirements to divert waste because they operate the landfills and they get paid according to how much trash they put there.

Thanks to customer demand and environmentally minded city leaders whom have adopted “zero-waste” pledges, those major trash industry operators are slowly investing in organic recycling.

Is composting merely a “reactionary” concept and perhaps not the “best” solution?  It’s complicated.

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