Friday, April 14, 2017

DPW to Launch Food Waste Drop-Off Program

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The Department of Public Works will launch its new Food Waste Drop-Off program on Earth Day, April 22. Under the new program, one Saturday farmers market location in each Ward will serve as a collection point for residents to drop off compostable food waste that the District will take to a local composting facility for processing. The locations have yet to be released, but the program launch will take place at Eastern Market, near the William H. Rumsey Aquatic Center (635 North Carolina Ave. SE) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (activities begin at 10 a.m.).

The handy chart below lists examples of items they will, or will not, accept.

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You can bring your compostables to the collection stations in covered plastic containers, or paper or plastic bags. Obviously, paper bags are not a terrific choice if your compostables are at all moist. If you stash your scraps in a plastic bag, be aware that DPW will not recycle that bag. So a covered plastic container is probably your best option. It doesn't sound like DPW plans to keep your plastic container, so I'm not sure why you couldn't use a covered metal compost pail. But this is what's in the guide.

Worried your compostables might stink or attract fruit flies while they hang out in your kitchen during the week? Stick them in a bag or yogurt container in the freezer or fridge. This should go without saying, but please don't store this stuff on your porch, as it could draw rats. Also, don't forget to remove any stickers from produce, as well as the twist ties or rubber bands from that bunch of cilantro or green onions you didn't get to in time. At least for my own compost, I also like to chop things up into smaller pieces (not mincing, just not a whole mushy apple).

I mentioned before that this is a program for District residents, and it's residential compostables they want. They won't accept waste from businesses.

If you have an interest in compost, and perhaps want to take a more active role but can't compost at home, consider the District's Community Compost Collective Network. It's pretty cool, and you get training on how to compost in the shared bins. If you want to learn more about urban gardening in the District, take a look at the Department of Parks & Recreation's Urban Garden Programs page. You can take all sorts of classes for free, find out how you can borrow garden tools (and beyond), learn about local beekeeping and urban farms, and more.

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