Friday, June 3, 2011 - 9:41am
The Streets Division will begin a pilot collection for household organics on Tuesday June 7th. The pilot program will use volunteers selected from both the east and west sides that have Tuesday refuse collection.
"The purpose of this program is to gather important data that can be used in planning a household organics diversion program," Madison recycling coordinator George Dreckmann said. "An organics program would be a significant undertaking and we need to do a lot of work to see if such a program would work in Madison."
The pilot collection program is the second phase of the Streets Division's feasibility study of a citywide organics program. The first phase, completed last year, was a comprehensive waste sort that showed that as much as 20,000 tons of material in Madison's residential waste stream could be composted.
"We will use the pilot program to see how our customers react to separating their organics and having a third cart," Dreckmann said. "We are also testing different types of kitchen scrap collectors for food waste, compostable plastic bags and the energy generation potential of the material collected in Madison."
Material collected during the pilot program is going to be sent to the Columbia County Composting facility near Portage, WI. Among the options that will be explored for a full time program will be the use of an anaerobic digestion system that will capture methane generated from the material and turn it into electricity or vehicle fuel. Such a system has just started up in Oshkosh.
"We are also going to look into capturing organic waste from large scale generators such as grocery stores, restaurants, institutions, and food processors," Dreckmann said. "I believe it will be at least two years before we will be able to complete a thorough study of our options."
The City of Madison is still accepting volunteers for the pilot project. However, you must have been among the original group who received an invitation letter in April.
"Do to our limited budget we have to keep the program in two very small geographic areas at this time," Dreckmann said. "Our ability to expand the pilot will be contingent on funding in the next year or two."
- George Dreckmann267-2626