In the last forty years recycling has gone from a hippie fringe activity to mainstream waste disposal. Now that the recycle bin is nearly as common as the trash can, organizations are moving into a new ecological initiative: composting. Businesses considering composting should work out the details ahead of time to be sure the program will succeed.
Composting requires more education than recycling programs for two reasons. First there are myths about composting, the most common being that compost is dirty, smelly and will attract vermin. Compost collection is no dirtier than trash collection and as long as the collection bins are emptied regularly they will be no more unpleasant than trash cans.
A larger issue is what can and cannot be composted. Throw an aluminum can in a plastic recycling bin and it will get sorted out. Throw the wrong food in a compost bin and the entire batch will be ruined. Educate people about what can be composted–vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells–and what can’t–dairy and meat. Instruction and signage are both important aspects of the education program.
Whether you will compost on site or not, you will want to make collection as easy for employees as possible. You don’t have to buy compost bins, which can be expensive, for initial collection. You can use a regular trash or recycle bin with a closable lid. Metal bins are easier to keep clean but plastic works fine as well. Deploy the bins where people eat since that is the most obvious place food waste will be generated. Place a compost bin next to a trash bin and recycle bin to make it easy for people to choose the right disposal stream.
Empty the bins daily into a central collection container. This can be your onsite compost bin or an outdoor pickup container for an offsite vendor. A small business might have only one indoor collection bin but you don’t want to let it sit for days in the break room. If the material must wait for collection, it’s better to have it sitting outside.
Onsite Or Offsite?
Some businesses choose to compost themselves. A compost bin doesn’t require a lot of space or effort so it’s easy and inexpensive to handle it internally. You’ll need to be sure to add the proper ratio of 25% greens (food waste) with 75% browns (leaves, shredded paper, sawdust) and you’ll have to turn the compost periodically to be sure the material composts evenly.
Other companies don’t have the volume of material, the outdoor space or the interest in handling it themselves. In that case find a composting service or talk to your landscaping company since sometimes they offer composting services. Composting is often cheaper than trash handling since the contents of your compost bin have value to the service provider just like the contents of your recycle bin.
Take your company beyond the recycle bin by implementing an easy and inexpensive composting program.