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Keen on Green? Kick Off an Organics Collection Program — And On Budget, Too

From technological logistics and disposal materials like carts and bins to related communication and education materials, adopting an organics collection program is a hefty undertaking with a sizable price tag, too.

But with advances in digital and automated routing and communication tools, an ever-growing desire to divert waste from landfills and new grant and funding opportunities, perhaps the time to start an organics recycling program has never been better than it is now.

Today, more and more states and municipalities are banning or limiting organic materials from their landfills — or hoping to — while upping the ante on long-term waste diversion goals. Whether you’d like to kick off your own organics program, or you’re researching more about what it would involve, we’re in a unique position to help.

At ReCollect, we’ve worked with numerous municipalities across the globe, which has given us insights that can guide you through the process. Our industry knowledge — paired with our lineup of digital tools for waste and recycling communications — can provide you with invaluable resources to help you along the way.

Take notes

Kicking off any new program can be intimidating, to be sure, but you don’t have to do it alone. Here are some things to keep in mind to get you started:

Ready for research: Before you get into the nuts and bolts of the planning process, it’s a good idea to get a feel for an overview of your potential operation. Determine why you want to establish an organics collection program and where the materials could be processed. Then, figure out how you’ll measure its success before establishing some goals.

Prepare to pilot: Conduct a waste audit to help you plan for a pilot study. This will help you determine how much waste is generated and more so you can plan for program specifics, such as the size and style of bins you’ll need. Select a study group or allow residents to sign up for the program. Be sure to gather community input with a survey during your program pilot, which can lend some additional insights should you design a permanent collection program.

Teamwork makes the (waste) stream work: Tap into your resources and learn from folks who have been there before. At ReCollect, we have a variety of case studies and guides to help you plan, including everything from guidance on processing options and bin types to program pilots and how to implement a successful launch.

In favor of starting an organics program? Motion granted

As more and more states and municipalities add organics to their recycling efforts, states and other entities are providing funding opportunities for municipalities and haulers that are working to meet new goals and guidelines.

Take California, for example. The state’s Senate Bill 1383 took effect earlier this year, requiring all jurisdictions to provide organic waste collection and related education and outreach efforts to all people and businesses. To help municipalities and communities throughout the state meet those requirements, its Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) began administering a one-time grant program to help fund everything from collection and education efforts to record keeping.

On the other side of the country in New York, state and federal law gives localities the responsibility of planning and implementing their own materials management strategies, according to their website. Among other regulations and guidance, the state advises each municipality and county to include organics management within their required local solid waste management plans.

To help accomplish this work, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is spreading the word about funding opportunities for municipal food-scraps recycling initiatives, including the Climate Smart Communities Grant Program and the State Assistance Programs (Grants) for Waste Reduction, Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste Programs, among others.

Similar assistance is also carried out in Massachusetts. Most recently, the state’s waste reduction efforts have led to new Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Waste Disposal Bans, barring the disposal — and transport for disposal — of textiles and mattresses in Massachusetts, while limiting the disposal and lowering the threshold of food and organic waste for certain businesses and other commercial institutions.

In other states like Illinois, funds are also available to help municipalities and counties manage their solid waste overall. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s County Solid Waste Planning Grants, for instance, aids counties throughout the state in their efforts to draft and adopt plans to manage their solid waste and more.

No matter the reason you’d like to add organics to your recycling efforts, whether your state is rolling out similar regulations in the future or you simply want to be prepared when it does, making the most of your resources, grant money included, can help you on your quest.

After all, according to a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, curbside collection programs for food scraps and organic waste served some 6.1 million households in 2017, which is the most recent year for which information is available. Since then, many states and municipalities have required and rolled out organics programs — and some day yours may, too, if it hasn’t already.

Building your tool kit

No matter where you are in your organics recycling program planning process, we can help.

If you need a little inspiration, or some ideas of where to start and what to do, we’ve compiled a how-to blog plus a handful of webinars, including Confronting Organics Waste by Effectively Communicating Your Collection Approach, Seven Best Communication Practices for Launching an Organics Program and tips for Implementing SB 1383 Requirements with Digital Communication Tools, which may be applied to nearly every collection program.

Whether you’re preparing to launch or you already have, we have several digital resources for you to call on, too:

  • The Collection Calendar can help you communicate with the people you serve about when and where their organics recycling will be collected. If you’re noticing certain areas making more recycling mistakes than others, you can include targeted messages and reminders through this tool, too.
  • The Mobile App helps you send communications directly to your residents’ phones and homes. This particularly comes in handy should you need to alert people to schedule changes due to holidays or inclement weather.
  • The Waste Sorting Game provides a clever and fun way to help educate the people in your community about your recycling and composting policies and instructions.
  • The Waste Wizard can help you communicate the ins and outs of how to dispose of any given item — compost and organic waste, included.

Are you hoping to learn more, or are you ready to take the plunge? Let’s Talk.