Metro, Newton

Newton to Offer Curbside Compost Pickup to Residents

Residents in the City of Newton are now able to compost. In partnership with Black Earth Compost, residents will be able to pay a subscription fee to have curbside pickup of food waste including meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, and more. 

The curbside pickup program requires two easy steps. Residents fill their 13-gallon curbside bin with compostable items—a full list is provided by Black Earth Compost on their website. The company then stops by once a week to pick up everything in the bin.

Food scraps are screened for quality and eventually bagged and sold in garden stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, reducing the amount of waste produced by residents that end up in the landfill. 

According to Waneta Trabert, the City of Newton’s director of Sustainable Materials Management, the city started to look for composting companies in August of this year. It had asked for bulk pricing for high volume of compost on behalf of Newton residents. 

Newton signed a one-year contract with Black Earth Composting in early October. The city also has an option of extending the contract for two additional years with one-year renewals.

Residents of Newton can pay a subscription price of $59.99 for six months and a one-time fee of $34 for a 13-gallon lockable bin to collect their food waste for the pickup, which is distributed by the city. In addition, customers of the program will get one free bag of compost each year. Although this price initially worried the city’s workers, the growth in customers has been much higher than anticipated.

Black Earth Compost was founded in 2011 and has been operating in the New England area ever since. It had been working with roughly 500 households before the partnership with Newton. Since the announcement of the program back in October, though, about 650 new residents have subscribed.

Trabert predicts that the early adopters of the program are the residents that are into sustainability and green initiatives, but obviously this isn’t a mainstream trend. There are high hopes in the administration that residents will be able to grow the program through experience and sharing with other residents, Trabert said. The city has also taken its part in advertising through news outlets, Facebook ads, signs, and even backpack programs. 

Pumpkin Smash, an event held by the city at War Memorial Circle behind City Hall was on Nov. 2. There, residents could smash their Halloween pumpkins and donate them for a composting pile to be used around the city. It was also a great opportunity to promote Green Newton and the curbside program. It allowed people to take part in composting and learn about it in general, like how it can be done with your decorative pumpkins and even in the backyard. 

The contract allows the city to lower the subscription price to $49.99 for six months of service after 3,000 households have signed up. Trabert said she hopes the program will grow in order to reach this goal. In general, according to Trabert, the city would just like to reduce waste as much as possible, so they have also been looking into no cost alternatives. This includes drop-off locations for residents at the recycling center, schools, and parks. Having these locations would allow residents that don’t pay the subscription to be able to donate their waste and increase the reduction and reuse of compost. 

In the long-term, the city also hopes to collect tonnage data that will eventually be used to educate the public about what material Newton is producing, as well as assist administration in management, Trabert said. 

Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / For The Heights

November 17, 2019