3 things to know about Madison’s new food scrap collection program

Black carts roll onto area streets this Friday
3 things to know about Madison’s new food scrap collection program

Madison streets will soon be lined with black-and-orange carts for the city’s new food scraps program. It’s the latest city-led experiment, as part of its eight-year effort to divert food waste from local landfills.

If you signed up to participate in the food scraps pilot program, or are interested in joining in the future, here are three things to know:

1. Don’t call it “composting!” The carts can be filled with many of the same things that went into the old, all-black carts… but not always! Bones, eggshells, and nut shells are among the items that cannot be collected. These scraps will then be hauled to the anaerobic biodigester in Middleton that primarily processes waste from dairies. The methane released by the decomposting food scraps will be used to generate electricity. Click here for a list of what can be placed in the wasted food carts.

2. Pickup will happen the old-fashioned way. Rather than using the city’s automated fleet of garbage trucks, the city will use two-person teams: one person will drive the truck and the other will inspect the cart and the curb and look for contaminants. Those containing contamination will be left behind for a trash collector to send the material to the landfill. The Madison Streets Division said this trial should reveal if inspecting the carts at the curb is an effective method of controlling the contamination.

3. Around 200 households are participating right now, but the program could expand to more very soon. Collections will happen every Friday, starting Aug. 2, for the next eight weeks. After the initial run, the city will consider implementing the bins permanently starting in 2020. The Madison Streets Division will also use the trial to reveal how much additional labor is needed to scale up the program to happen citywide.

Madison’s last pilot program collected organic waste from 2011 to 2018.

If you are interested in composting your food scraps at your home or business today, click here.

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