Commercial composting programs are growing in cities across North America. More than 30 states in the U.S. are now equipped with composting facilities, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Biocycle. If that number doesn’t sound too impressive, consider that in 2009 less than 10 states had composting facilities that handled food waste and other compostable materials.
That’s an important improvement when it comes serving the needs of the robust restaurant sector of a city like Seattle or Portland. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 14.5 percent of the municipal solid waste sent to landfills from both commercial and residential sources in 2012 was food waste. That works out to 37 million tons that has the potential to be diverted for reuse through composting.
But many cities and, surprisingly, many rural areas still don’t have comprehensive composting programs built into their waste management systems. Biocycle estimates that there are almost 5,000 composting services spread throughout the U.S. in semi-urban areas to deep rural communities, but the lion’s share don’t accept food waste.
The reasons are varied and many: complaints about odors from nearby residents to our own ingrained habits when it comes to compostable materials.