Residents donate 400 pounds of scraps for trash-to-treasure composting effort

August 24, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson mucks around in a pile of more than 400 pounds food scraps from Issaquah residents Wednesday. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 12:50 p.m. Aug. 24, 2011

The half-gnawed corncobs, shorn pineapple tops, slippery banana peels and grease-stained pizza boxes simmered in the midday sun — a concoction assembled from the kitchen castoffs of 10 Issaquah families.

The festering pile in Donna Misner’s driveway included more than 400 pounds collected from residents in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah. King County joined the residents to increase food-scrap recycling for a month for a month to accomplish dual goals: demonstrate how easy such recycling can be and turn the garbage into rich compost for a community garden.

Cedar Grove Composting plans to transform the refuse into compost and then donate the results to the Issaquah Flatland Community Garden near the AtWork! recycling center. Gardeners send 25 percent of the organic bounty to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

(Cedar Grove Composting is near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.)

Officials and teams from the King County Solid Waste Division and Cedar Grove Composting gathered for the event at a house along Issaquah Creek, Tiger Mountain basking the sunshine beyond.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson donned boots and gloves, and then climbed atop the spongy pile to demonstrate some of the items homeowners can pitch into the compost pile, rather than the garbage can.

“We are showing the circle of life — how food scraps don’t need to go into the garbage,” he said as a sickly sweet odor wafted from the scraps. “The food scraps like that and food-soiled paper makes up more than 30 percent of the garbage that would go to Cedar Hills landfill. Instead, it can be made into a useful product — compost, an organic product.”

The average single-family household in King County generates 475 pounds of food scraps and food-soiled paper each year.

Issaquah residents started curbside food-scrap composting in 2005. The city requires restaurants and other food sellers to compost food scraps, and use compostable or recyclable packaging for takeout containers. Issaquah School District campuses also compost food scraps and food-soiled paper.

“We have done away with a lot of things that previously would have been thrown away,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said at the event. “Local businesses have stepped up. They’ve started collection programs and provide residents with options, so that recyclable food scraps and papers no longer have to go to landfills.”

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