After a lively debate on short term housing, the Hood River City Council turned to garbage at last Monday’s meeting (HR New article). Council heard an update from a Waste Working Group formed over a year ago, consisting of City staff, three City councilors, Hood River Garbage, Celilo Restaurant, HR Vacation Rentals, Dirt Hugger, and Tri-Counties Hazardous Waste and Recycling. There were comments/questions from the audience and great discussion over the details of a program and implementation. Full presentation here.
Helping expand composting services in the gorge area was one of the original reasons we started Dirt Hugger, and it is a great pleasure to see this finally move forward. On a personal level, I will be very happy to not need to drag my own compost cart to work every week. On a business level, we are very excited because, we think, this program might alleviate some of the contamination issues from other popular composting programs. We are building on lessons learned in other cities to design a program that will hopefully work for the resident as well as the hauler and composter.
What sets this program apart is maintaining equivalent garbage capacity at the curb given an every other week collection schedule. In other programs, garbage collection switched from 35 gallons every week to 35 gallons every other week when food scraps collection was introduced. This provides a 35 gallon or 50% reduction in garbage collection on over a two-week period. However, on average, a household produces a basketball sized amount of food waste per week or roughly 2 gallons. In a two week period only four gallons of food are collected in the compost bin, but there are still 31 gallons of garbage capacity unaccounted for. What we see, as composters, is that the garbage is being placed in the compost bin when the garbage is full. Makes sense, right?
To combat that, the HR program will offer a weekly 35 gallon garbage customer a 64 gallon can to be collected every other week. This strategy aims to add opportunities for increased landfill diversion (bigger recycling bins and adding composting) while keeping the recycling and composting streams free of contamination, thus helping ensure their long term viability. Six months after the roll out residents will be able to swap out carts based on actual their actual usage.
The waste working group and city councilors put in an enormous amount of volunteer effort to get this program going and we are very appreciative of the time, thought and consideration that went in to this. Next steps include the City drafting a franchise agreement for Hood River Garbage. The draft agreement will then be presented in a public hearing so that residents may comment and ask questions. Following the discussion, City Council will vote once more to implement the franchise agreement. Stay tuned for announcement of the public hearing. Please feel free to write city councilors with your input.