Composting—the practice of diverting biodegradable waste into fertilizer—is all about the numbers.
In Maryland, we throw away food scraps, grass clippings, wood chips and the like equal to about 780,000 tons each year. Gathering those scraps and allowing them to naturally combine into a super-potent fertilizer would create two times the number of jobs than simply putting the waste into a landfill. Workers at composting facilities could make up to $20 an hour.
All of those numbers are courtesy a report by Institute of Local Self-Reliance, a Washington, DC think tank, Pay Dirt: Composting in Maryland to Reduce Waste, Create Jobs, & Protect the Bay, which broke down why public and private composting programs make sense. And dollars, too.
“We have to stay focused on both job creation and protecting the environment. Composting marries the two perfectly,” said Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Dist 20), of Takoma Park, in a statement about the report.
“We’ll continue to reduce regulatory burdens and confusion so businesses know their composting operations are engines of the green economy and are welcomed here in Maryland.”
Montgomery County's composting program works with business owners to encourage the process and also provides homeowners with 3-by-3 foot bins to dispose of natural materials. Residents can wait and use the compost for their own greenery, or, for apartment and condo dwellers without yards, drop off the compost at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station, located at 16105 Frederick Road in Derwood.
(Head here for more on how to compost.)
In Howard County, some neighborhoods are part of a pilot program that picks up composting curb-side, just like trash and traditional recycling. The jurisdiction has garnered attention for its plan to transition part of a landfill into a high-tech composting facility.
University Park in Prince George's County has picked up composting curb-side since 2011, according to WAMU.org.
Composting is a new-age solution to a very modern problem, according to Gemma Evans, coordinator of Howard's composting program. Ideally, people would just use less and eliminate the need for composting, she told WAMU.
"A hundred years ago, people weren't throwing out as much stuff as they do now, not wasting as much food and other stuff that is wasted now. So hopefully we'll come back around," Evans told the radio station.
Tell us in the comments: Do you compost? Would you start to save food scraps if there were curbside composting in Montgomery County?