A couple of weeks ago we attended the Hood River City Council meeting to deliver a mid-term update on the food scraps pilot program. We had our first curbside compost customer meeting in December with Riverside Grill’s green team, who were so excited they decided they would start composting that night. They bought their own cans for compost and were off and running.
At the inception the two of us drove around in the Ford 350 dump truck we bought off craigslist and collected trash cans full of food. After the first week we were overwhelmed. The cans were heavy and our truck bed is four feet off the ground. Many times it took both of us, lifting in tandem to get the can to the bed. Then we’d climb up dump it and start over. Riverside Grill had 2-4 cans, twice a week. It was a lot of lifting for two short guys. We carried on like this for over six weeks while slowly adding customers.
When our backs couldn’t take much more lifting we had a meeting with the local garbage company (Waste Connections) to discuss their taking over the hauling – after all they have cans, trucks, drivers, etc… Hearing our story, they agreed and began the food scraps route the following day. We now have over 20 compost customers and have collected over 250 garbage cans totaling over 30,000 lbs of food scraps and 80,000 lbs of fruit waste. By all means the pilot program has been a success.
The next step is to approach City Council with a plan to roll out a normal compost service that would be included with garbage and recycling. Waste Connections is currently crunching the numbers to determine the potential rate impact of a new program. We have seen numerous examples in other cities, such as Portland, where they have every week recycling, and every other week compost and garbage. This system allows for only two trucks on the road at a time (reducing cost), while dealing with the high volume recycling most frequently. We are told the 2000 home pilot in Portland works well and is slated to roll out further in the future. If you have input or comments on a more universal compost service in The Gorge, we would love to hear them.