Risa Buck, Recology Ashland

Risa Buck

Risa Buck

One of the biggest challenges associated with waste disposal is consumer education. Risa Buck is the Waste Zero Specialist at Recology Ashland, a waste and recycling company that serves the Ashland and Talent area. Part of Buck’s job includes educating the public about proper disposal, recycling and waste prevention options. Buck speaks with local residents and businesses at the recycle center, retirement homes, schools or at Boy Scout meetings, and the Boys and Girls Club for example. She helps organize recycling opportunities at events such as the 4th of July celebration, Talent Harvest Festival and Bear Creek Salmon Festival, for example. She focuses on “low-hanging fruit” topics, which she describes as, “Opportunities that are available to people if they choose, like recycling.” Buck’s topics span from “A-Z”, but the focus is always on reducing the amount of waste that could end up in a landfill.

Food-related waste is a particularity tricky part of the waste disposal stream. The best way to reduce food scraps being trashed is to AVOID wasting food in the first place. Another way to deal with food scraps is by composting leftover food material at home. Currently, Recology Ashland does not have a post-consumer composting program for residential customers. They do, however, have a composting program for pre-consumer fruits and vegetables for businesses only. Fruits and vegetables must be uncooked and unprocessed in order to be accepted. These products can come, “from restaurants, coffee houses, SOU, bed and breakfasts” and similar businesses. Buck explains that the Department of Environmental Quality is concerned about post-consumer compost for three major reasons: Effluent (liquid from the composting process that could potentially go into streams and water tables), odor, and the ability of composting material to attract rodents. Recology does have a yard debris program for residential and commercial customers and offers composting classes each summer at the recycle center.

Buck says that, “We would be delighted to offer community curbside food scrap pick-up. From our perspective, there’s two big questions to answer: One is what composting process makes the most sense, and two, whether the community is willing to pay for the cost of this service.” If you would like to see a post-consumer food-composting program in your community, Buck suggests contacting your elected county and city officials. To find out more about Recology Ashland, visit recologyashland.com.