Town Invites Residents to Help Reduce Waste through Compost Pilot Program

Compost Bins
Bedford Department of Public works is piloting a program for residents to drop off food waste to Black Earth compost bins at the Compost & Recycling Center on Carlisle Road. Courtesy Image.

Elizabeth Antanavica, Trash and Recycling Administrator at the Bedford Department of Public Works, invites Bedford households to register for the composting pilot program to help reduce Bedford’s solid waste disposal volume.

An online survey conducted last June collected resident feedback about composting and recycling in the town. The data collected from this survey was the inspiration for the program.

The program is grant funded by MassDEP Recycling Dividends, and this fund will last until June 30. The grant funds are used for the collection of food waste and associated composting costs. After the pilot period ends, Antanavica and her team will evaluate the participation in and effectiveness of the program.

The program currently has space for around 100 households to participate. Once registered, residents will bring their food waste material to the Compost & Recycling Center at 108 Carlisle Road, where it will be deposited into green food waste carts. Twice per week, a team from Black Earth Compost will pick up the collected material and bring it to their commercial composting facility in Groton. There, the Black Earth team will maintain its decomposition into nutrient-rich compost.

In other communities working with Black Earth Compost, each participating household diverted six to eight pounds of food waste per week. 

Infographic on "why should I compost" from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Diverting food waste into compost provides many benefits to communities. Infographic: Mass.gov Dept of Environmental Protection

“Individually, it may seem like a small contribution, but together, the community can really make a huge difference,” said Antanavica.

If 100 Bedford households committed to just six to eight pounds diverted per week, Bedford’s solid waste disposal volume could be reduced by nearly seven tons of food waste during the duration of the program. The collected waste will be weighed before each pickup, and this data will be shared with the public to demonstrate the impact of the program.  

The collected waste will be weighed before each pickup, and this data will be shared with the public to demonstrate the impact of the program. 

The eventual goal of the pilot program, as described by Antanavica, is “to evaluate community food waste drop-off as an option for food waste diversion long term.”

Through this program, simple individual household efforts will have a large impact on Bedford’s solid waste disposal. The program also provides an alternative way to reduce food waste for households that may not have space for backyard composting or the financial resources for curbside pickup.

Although the composting pilot program is open only to Bedford residents, schools and businesses in Bedford have put some programs into place to reduce solid waste. 

At Bedford High School and John Glenn Middle School, efforts are made to divert kitchen-generated food waste. Antanavica hopes that soon, these efforts will include student-generated food waste in the schools as well, and in time will include all food waste district-wide. Bedford businesses are eligible for free assistance from the Recycling Works program if interested in diverting their food waste.

Private food waste collection through Black Earth Compost is also available for Bedford households. Currently, around 350 households subscribe to private curbside service from Black Earth Compost. Households using this service simply collect food waste in a green Black Earth bin, and the waste is picked up by the Black Earth team and brought to the Groton facility. The Department of Public Works is currently providing free starter kits to any residents interested in subscribing to the curbside pickup.

There are many other ways to reduce individual food waste besides composting programs. Antanavica says, “Starting to reduce food waste can be as easy as you want it to be.” She suggests committing to eating all household leftovers as a way to throw out less food and planning meals in advance to avoid over-buying at the grocery store. 

“All of those efforts are valuable in our collective efforts to reduce our waste overall,” she encourages.

Residents can register for the program by submitting an online interest form on the Town website, at https://www.bedfordma.gov/FormCenter/DPW-26/Food-Waste-Dropoff-Pilot-Program-Interes-99. Priority will be given to residents with financial hardship or without backyard space for composting.

Questions about the program can be directed to Liz Antanavica, Refuse & Recycling Administrator at 781-275-7605, ext. 4261.

Mary Stewart is a 2022 Bedford High School graduate. She is currently a first year student at Vassar College.


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