Waste Disposal

What is traditionally called the “waste” generated by our food system is an often overlooked but important part of what could truly be a nutritious and economic cycle if we choose to look at the bi-products from our food system as potential resources. In the Rogue Valley there are several efforts to divert our food scraps from the landfill and capture it as a resource for food production in the form of compost.

Food Waste

Recology Ashland Sanitary Service is currently collecting pre-consumer, vegetable and fruit trimmings, paper coffee filters, coffee grounds, tea bags and floral trimmings from over 40 businesses in Ashland and Talent including restaurants, coffee shops, B&Bs, and school cafeterias.  Recology Ashland supplies these commercial customers with 32 gallon carts that are picked up weekly. This service costs $6.07 per month per cart. This is roughly a third of the cost of garbage pickup, which is $17.86 per 35 gallons. Thus, there is an economic incentive for these customers to participate in diverting their food waste from the landfill.

The compostable material that Recology Ashland collects is taken to Rogue Disposal’s compost site. Rogue Disposal is permitted to accept only pre-consumer food scraps and other non food organics. The specifications around pre-consumer, un-cooked materials are due to Rogue Disposals organic certification with OMRI, Organic Materials Review Institute. Rogue Disposal is collecting curbside yard waste to compost, but not residential food waste. Currently there is no permitted site for composting post-consumer food scraps on a large scale.

Green Planet Organics is a local company producing compost from “feed stock” (the materials that make up compost) that they collect for free from a variety of locations where waste is being generated on a large scale. Green Planet Organics is able to take some bread and dairy products due to the way that they are able to break up the compost material. They are selling their organic certified compost at a variety of locations in bag or it can be purchased in bulk.

Despite there not being a widely available option for residents to divert their food scraps from the landfill, there are many resources and programs available to help residents with composting their own food scraps. There are classes on composting through the Master Gardener program at OSU Extension. The Master Recyclers program supports education for the community about recycling and composting. The Recycling Center in Ashland has a compost demonstration area and free composting classes are offered there by the Ashland Conservation Commission and Recology Ashland Sanitary Service. Rogue Disposal encourages community members to help divert organic material from the landfill when possible. Rogue Disposal is very supportive of the Master Recycler’s program and offers education and outreach about composting and recycling. Given that they currently cannot take residential food waste, Rogue Disposal encourages residents to compost their own and they have a demonstration at the Public Transfer Station on various home compost setups to help get people started.

Food packaging is probably an even larger bi-product from the food system than organic waste. In addition to where our food comes from, we can also be aware of what our food comes in and make choices as consumers that reduce packaging waste