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.
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.
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 canand 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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com and we’ll contact them to follow-up.
Fall is here in Salt Lake City and leaves are beginning to drop.
This is a friendly reminder to please use yourbrown 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
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.
Salt Lake City Green is excited to announce the spring 2016 Salt Lake City Master Recycler program! Register at SLCMasterRecycler.com.
What is Master Recycler?
Salt Lake City Green is working to build out a network of residents who are trained and certified Master Recyclers who understand all aspects of waste reduction, city services and bin downsizing options.
Master Recyclers commit to attending eight weekly workshops running from May-June 2016. Classes are scheduled for Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m. A full class schedule is below.
Workshops will cover a variety of topics and emphasize opportunities for hands-on learning. Every workshop includes a field trip for a behind-the-scenes look at the Salt Lake County Landfill, Salt Lake City Sanitation, Rocky Mountain Recycling, landfill composting operation and Momentum Glass Recycling. You’ll even “tag” along with Salt Lake City’s can inspection team!
What’s in it for you?
A tote bag full of Master Recycler swag, including t-shirt and stainless steel water bottle.
The knowledge to help your friends, neighbors and kids maximize your recycling & reduce your impact on the environment.