RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond’s Parks and Recreation department was given a significant grant to launch a community composting pilot program.
The Richmond Compost Initiative is funded for two years thorough a $90,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The initiative seeks to divert food waste from the landfill by providing options for composting at convenient, citywide drop-off locations and then cycle that organic waste into high-quality compost for community use.
Parks and Rec is patterning with the city’s Public Works to pick up the food scraps every Tuesday. There are 20 drop-off locations across the city.
Kate Rivara serves as community garden coordinator for the project.
Food waste to add to the compost piles include fruits and veggies, kitchen scraps, eggshells, bread, paper towels, paper bags, coffee filters and tea bags.
Items to avoid include plastics, trash, cooking oil, pet waste, meat or dairy, and takeout boxes, among other products.
Rivara said you could use an old coffee can or a takeout box to collect your food scraps.
“If you think you're going to come a little less frequently, I would say you might want a five-gallon bucket that lives outside. Add to it until you make that trip to your local drop off,” she advised. “But if you do prefer things a little neater and tidier, you might want to get those biodegradable bags. They're light green and they really do break down rather quickly.”
The city is contracting the work with Realroots Food Systems LLC that is managed by Mark Davis. Realroots will manage the processing of the food scraps into a high-quality finished compost.
Davis said about 25% of landfills are full of biodegradable food that releases harmful greenhouse gases and methane when it decomposes.
“Get in at the first point at the primary source and get people to bring their food scraps and separate them out,” David explained. “I think that puts takes a lot of pressure off of our other waste management aspects of the city and helps us create a nice final product for the community gardens to be able to use for green spaces to be able to use throughout the city.”
The Richmond Compost Initiative is an important step in progressing towards the city’s sustainability goals as outlined in the RVAGreen 2050 plan, slated for adoption by the city council later this year.
For more information about the Richmond Compost Initiative or the department’s Community Garden program, click here.