Composting in your own backyard


Last week’s article about curbside composting generated lots of interest. (Watch for another article on a pilot program in Linden Hills next week.) The comment below, posted by Diana Kennedy of Eureka Recycling, describes composting opportunities already in place in the Twin Cities, and offers help in setting up your own backyard composting.

There are facilities that accept compost materials every day, which is a change from years past. Today in the metro area there are three major facilities that take food scraps and paper products that cannot be recycled in addition to leaves and grass. (There are more facilities like this emerging every day and there are many more facilities that just compost just leaves and grass right now.) These facilities sell their materials to markets for compost ranging from projects with the Department of Transportation for erosion control along roadways to commercial landscapers and nurseries who value the nutrient-rich compost.

Compost facilities that only handle leaves and grass are challenged by the seasonal fluctuations of material (lots of yard waste is generated in the spring and fall). A household composting program provides a steady stream of materials—food scraps and paper products that cannot be recycled—throughout the year. Contamination is always something to watch out for…which is why extensive education is important in any curbside composting program. It’s a challenge, but it’s possible and there are proven education strategies from recycling programs (which also have contamination challenges to address) and other composting program throughout the county.

For leaves and grass, there is a drop-off system in place to compost materials from your yard through Ramsey County (you can call our hotline for locations and hours…651-222-7678). The easiest (and most environmental) way to handle leaves and grass is right in your own backyard. It’s pretty easy to set up and use a backyard bin or two…and we’re happy to help folk set those up.