- Indiana's Lake County Solid Waste Management District is moving forward on a pilot program to compost frozen food waste after receiving zoning approval from the city of Gary.
- The county is partnering with Van Drunen Farms which will be supplying the material. The site will accept about 2,000 pounds of waste per month.
- The frozen material will be mixed with leaves in concrete bunkers and turned over a multi-week process. Officials plan to start selling compost next year and have touted its benefits as a high-quality soil amendment, fertilizer and natural pesticide. The goal is to offer the compost at a more affordable rate for municipal purposes.
This composting operation is part of an overall program called Journey to Zero that was started by the district's new executive director. The goal is to find new ways to make schools, businesses and government entities "zero waste" over the next five years. One part of that plan is to potentially bring students on field trips to learn about composting and local wildlife at the Gary facility.
Educating people about the importance of diverting organic material is seen as key to any modern waste program and is especially necessary in Indiana. According to the Department of Environmental Management, the state's overall diversion rate in 2015 was 11.7% including composting. While the state noted that reporting capabilities are still being updated this number is far below the goal of 50%.
Indiana residents may be inclined to reduce the amount of waste they are currently sending to landfills after seeing a compost operation in action and recognizing the added benefit of reduced odor during transport because the material is frozen.