- Anchorage, AK has launched a new pilot program for residents to bring their organic waste to the Anchorage Regional Landfill in exchange for free compost.
- The program's 250 participants will receive five-gallon buckets for storing their organics at home and can swap them out for no more than one pick-up truck load of compost per week under an honor system.
- Susitna Organics will collect and compost the waste through an $8,890 contract paid for by city recycling fees.
Many cities have begun exploring pilot programs for their organic waste, but this one offers a creative new approach. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said that the idea came from the Alaska Master Gardeners conference in April where attendees complained about the lack of good compost soil. As a composter and gardener himself, Berkowitz took the message to heart.
The city's Solid Waste Services Department (SWS) has pitched this as a zero waste policy that will promote a circular economy.
"This is just one way to keep fully utilizing our resources,” said SWS Recycling Coordinator Travis Smith to KTUU. "Anchorage used to supply itself with a lot more food that was grown locally, now we rely much more on imports. This is just one way, garden-by-garden, to help augment people growing their own food locally."
The program isn't directly transferrable to larger cities where residents have no yard space and don't need compost, but it could be a good model for smaller municipalities. While some people are already composting in their backyards, others may not have the space or the knowledge to do so. This pilot will run until October and could be expanded if successful.