City Awarded USDA Grant Pilot for Compost and Food Waste Reduction

March 8, 2023

City of Traverse City Awarded USDA Grant
Pilot Compost and Food Waste Reduction

The City of Traverse City has been awarded a $255,396 two-year United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to pilot a Compost and Food Waste Reduction project. SEEDS Ecology & Education Centers will support the project with processing management, logistics, oversight, and aid with the selection of interested vendors through RFP hauling contracts as well as food waste source identification.

Currently, the City provides curbside seasonal leaf pick up and annual brush pick up for its residents. Materials are taken to the City’s Keystone facility for composting. The organic material is supplemented by materials from the County-operated brush drop-off. Finished compost products are used by the City for its public lands, parks and green spaces and any remaining material is sold for bulk purchasing.

"This pilot program is intended to augment the City's current composting program and begin to bring together the pieces needed for a successful small scale food composting system with the hope of inspiring/initiating future efforts within the city and the community. The end product being quality compost, could be used by City DPS Parks Division or donated back by the city to support the hauling agreements and waste source producers,” stated Frank Dituri, DPS Director

The purpose of the program is start to provide some City residents and businesses with easy access to more organic material pickups, especially including food waste. Further, monitoring the associated reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from organic material diverted from landfills into composting used these toward the City’s Carbon Neutral Target. It is anticipated that, when the system is working to max capacity, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions diverted from the landfills will be equivalent to eliminating twelve cars on the road in a one year time period.

“The community appetite for adding food waste into their recycling options is exponentially growing.Solving this challenge for our rural region will require multiple solutions at multiple scales. The City's soon-to-be-installed "in-vessel" system is a fully contained solution that is ideal for urban environments. Seeing this equipment in town will make for a fun and engaging outreach tool to help tell the story about the untapped value in our garbage,” stated Sarna Salzman, SEEDS Executive Director.

Program implementation is in process and will include equipment, management processes development, and outreach. The purchase and hosting of the 20-yard “In-Vessel” composter will be able to annually process close to 150 tons of food waste, the equivalent of 2 and a half 64 gallon totes). The end product being quality compost, could be donated by the City to support food pantry gardens and community gardens, or used in City parks, or could be sold for its retail value.

In 2022, the City Commission adopted Goals and Objectives identified climate as a strategic priority with a goal to address climate within all of our City priorities, goals, policies, and actions.

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