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Posts tagged ‘composting’

November’s Ghoulish Garbage: A Curbside Guide

As we know, there can be some scary finds in the Salt Lake City curbside recycling bins! There are also many tricks! (Both of these links are to recent Instagram stories done by our Recycling Education team. Pretty interesting, right?)

So now that Halloween is over, don’t give our waste management teams a fright! Here’s a quick guide to where your Halloween waste should go.

Help stop monstrous non-recyclable things from ending up in your recycling bin!

Compost: Your Jack-O’-Lantern’s Final Resting Place

If you’re an extra resourceful pumpkin carver, you may have decided to roast up your pumpkin seeds for a delicious Halloween snack! In fact, there are many fun ways to put your pumpkin’s guts to use.

But once you’ve used up your pumpkin and the jack-o’-lantern’s smile is fading, you have an important choice to make: where does the pumpkin go?

The combination of yard waste like leaves and sticks and kitchen scraps including eggshells and coffee grounds makes nutrient-rich dirt that promotes plant and soil health. Indeed, about 30% of what’s thrown away as garbage in the United States — including your perfect pumpkin — could be composted.

So instead of letting the great pumpkin take up space in the landfill (where it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas), put your pumpkin into the compost bin!

(Remember to only put pumpkins without paint, wax, glitter or other non-organic decorations in the brown bin).

Image of a cute wrinkly pumpkin ready to compost!

Garbage vs. Recycling?

Unless a helpful witch or wizard was able to transform all those candy wrappers into clean cardboard or aluminum, or if you send materials to a recycling program like TerraCycle, candy wrappers should always be put into the garbage can.

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DIY Composting

By Salt Lake Valley Landfill Compost Marketer & Recycling Specialist, Zak Breckenridge

As we mentioned in our last post, compost is awesome! And when you put yard trimmings, leaves, vegetable and fruit scraps, and more in your curbside brown compost container, you’re engaging in one of the best forms of local recycling: Composting.

Municipal composting saves landfill space, reduces landfill greenhouse gas emissions, and maintains the local nutrient cycle.

About 30% of what we put in the trash could be turned into compost, which has a big impact on our community carbon emissions and our landfill space.

But what do you do if you don’t have access to curbside yard waste disposal?

Or, perhaps you prefer to skip the brown bin and make your own nutrient-rich compost for your vegetable, flower gardens, and lawn.

Whatever the case may be, today we’re focusing on at-home composting, which gives you the convenience of fresh compost right at home, plus all of the environmental benefits of putting your kitchen and yard waste to good use.

Of course, there isn’t only one right way to compost. While composting methods share the same basic principles, there are many factors to keep in mind. Read on to learn about the main composting techniques so you can decide what method will work best for you.

Compost bin
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Your Yard Waste Container: Get the Dirt on Compost

by Salt Lake Valley Landfill Compost Marketer & Recycling Specialist, Zak Breckenridge

It’s variably called the “yard waste bin,” the “brown can,” or the “compost container.”

Whatever name you give it, all Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling customers have the familiar brown can and use it to dispose of leaves, yard trimmings, small branches, grass, weeds, and other green waste.

It can also take your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags.

Salt Lake City’s compost container . . . aka “yard waste bin” aka “brown can.”

Today we’re taking a deep dive into the brown can. We’re (figuratively, not literally) getting down and dirty not only with what should and shouldn’t go in your bin, but also what happens to all of that “green waste” at its destination?

Welcome to the world of compost and why we’re so proud to have a commercial compost facility here in the Salt Lake Valley, which services Salt Lake City and many Salt Lake County curbside programs.

What exactly is Compost?

We all know that putting carrot tops and tomato stems in the compost is somehow better than putting them in the trash, but how do your food scraps and yard waste become a useful and valuable natural product that’s also better for the environment and better for our community?

Fresh compost
A BIG pile of Salt Lake Valley’s Certified Compost
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Truck Wraps Deliver Words of Wisdom, Inspire Recycling

Every year, Salt Lake City’s low-emission waste collection trucks get a new look. In years past, the vehicles highlighted downsizing your garbage cans, the beauty of recycling, and the goal to ditch disposables. This year, the truck wraps deliver words of wisdom to inspire more thoughtful consumption and better recycling habits.

Truck wrap with Annie Leonard quote: There is no such thing as away. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.

Taking a Cue from Annie Leonard, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Robert Swan

One side of this year’s truck wraps display useful mantras encouraging SLC residents to recycle. The other side features quotes from three prominent environmental activists:

Annie Leonard is the founder of The Story of Stuff Project, which advocates for reducing our consumption and being more thoughtful about where our stuff goes. As her truck wrap quote says: there’s no such thing as away.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental activist and former senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He currently serves as president of the grassroots Waterkeeper Alliance. His quote succinctly emphasizes the impact of sustainable living on our country’s well being.

Echoing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s sentiment, Robert Swan’s quote is a call to action for every individual to take steps towards protecting the environment. Robert Swan is a climate activist and the first person to walk to the North and South pole. His organization, 2041, works to educate the public about the impact of climate change on the environment, especially at the poles.

By quoting these leaders, the truck wraps pinpoint the importance of community action geared towards protecting the environment and building sustainable communities.

One of the easiest ways to follow in the footsteps of these activists is to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Truck wrap with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. quote: The most patriotic thing you can do is to take care of the environment and try to live sustainably.

Is Recycling Still Worth It?

Presented on the flip sides of the trucks are statistics about SLC’s waste management habits. In particular, they emphasize the importance of proper waste diversion in the form of recycling and composting.

Does that surprise you? With recycling changing as markets adjusted to new rules from China on contamination, there has been question as to whether recycling is even “worth it” any more.

We’re here to tell you it is and that’s a key point we wanted to emphasize with the new truck wrap designs. Let’s take a moment to dig in to that detail:

The recycling import ban that came from China in 2018 has complex causes and also underscores that recycling is a commodity market that has always experienced ups and downs.

But there is good news amid the shake-up. In particular, it’s forcing U.S. recycling processors and consumers to get back to basics: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle . . . Properly.

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Help Us Encourage Businesses & Apartments to Recycle

Salt Lake City prides itself in our commitment to sustainability, and recycling is the first and most basic tenet of that commitment.

This commitment to sustainability and recycling is why we have gradually increased the number of services offered to residents over the last several years from curbside recycling to compost to glass recycling. It’s also, in part, why we introduced the Call 2 Haul program last year to achieve greater diversion from the landfill.

Resident waste, however, only accounts for about 40% of the total amount of material being generated. That’s why we also have a construction and demolition recycling ordinance (targeting 9-10% of generated waste) and a business & multi-family recycling ordinance passed in December 2015 to target the rest. The latter went into effect in January 2018.

Salt Lake City businesses generate roughly half of the waste in our city, making it important for this sector to recycle. This is the intent behind Salt Lake City’s Business & Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance (9.08.200) which took effect in 2018.

The business recycling ordinance is not aimed at small properties or businesses, nor those properties which provide lower-income, Section 8 housing. Instead, it is focused on the medium- to-large properties that are creating more waste.

More specifically, a business or property in Salt Lake City that generates more than four cubic yards of waste per week is required to offer recycling. This is approximately equal to eight, 96-gallon curbside containers and is roughly what multi-family properties with 15 or more units, and businesses with 10-15 or more employees, would produce.

Spread the Word

Only 10-15% of business waste was recycled before the ordinance went into effect. That number is gradually increasing, but we’d like your help!

Are you aware of a business or multi-family property that is not offering recycling? Let us know!

Simply fill out this form or email slcrecycles@slcgov.com and we’ll contact them to follow-up.

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It’s Leaf Season!

Leaf meme

Fall is here in Salt Lake City and leaves are beginning to drop.

This is a friendly reminder to please use your brown compost bin to dispose of leaves. The brown bins go to the compost facility at the Salt Lake Valley landfill, keeping this methane-producing organic material out of the traditional landfill.

Keep Leaves Out of Your Gutter and the Storm Drains

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Want an Inside Look at SLC’s Waste Management System? Master Recycler 2017 is Now Enrolling!

Are you interested in the nitty gritty of recycling?

In learning why plastic bags are so hard to deal with?

Or what happens when garbage gets sent to the landfill?

Would you like to become a greater champion for reducing, reusing, and recycling in our community?

master-recycler-blog-photo

Then consider joining Salt Lake City’s 2017 “Master Recycler program!”

The program has been providing in-depth education about recycling, composting, and solid waste management to Salt Lake community members since 2015. It gives participants a behind-the-scenes look at Salt Lake City’s waste management system from bin to recycling plant.

Our mission is “to create a network of champions who are trained in waste reduction strategies and are able to assist with outreach and engagement in the Salt Lake City community.”

By learning from outreach experts and visiting waste management facilities, Master Recyclers are empowered to educate their own communities about all aspects of waste reduction.

Everyone is welcome to participate! Registration is open until the class is full.

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