Boston residents are going crazy over a food waste curbside collection program, which the city launched last year to reduce its reliance on landfills and incinerators.
Officials are expanding the initiative to reach 30,000 households as it heads into its second year, an increase from the current servicing capacity of 10,000, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Friday.
“The strong interest in our pilot program gave us a clear sign that residents are eager to participate in curbside food waste collection if the resources are available,” the mayor said in a release. “This expansion will make it easier for more residents to help our city fight the effects of climate change.”
After participating residents fill what the city describes as compost bin “starter kits,” the food waste is then recycled to make clean energy and nutrient-rich compost.
Residents in June will start receiving the starter kits which include an onboarding manual, a roll of liners, kitchen and collection bins, and a magnet highlighting what food scraps are and are not accepted in the program. Collections begin in July, with another round starting in August.
Accepted materials include coffee grounds, fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, and eggs.
So far, the initiative has collected more than 800 tons of curbside food waste at no cost to residents, according to city officials overseeing the program.
New households participating in the program will be onboarded through the city’s Waste Reduction Division Program starting in July, and more will be added monthly until the targeted capacity of 30,000 is reached. The collections will coincide on the same day as trash pickup.
To be eligible, city residents must live in a residential building with no more than six units. Officials say those who live in what the state considers “environmental justice communities” will receive priority.
The Wu administration says this is part of the city’s “Zero Waste Plan”.
City Council President Ed Flynn has been leading an effort to address food waste, which he says has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. That, in turn, has led to an increase in rats scurrying city streets seeking trash treats.
Flynn has floated the idea of hiring a rat czar, which would oversee all aspects of the city’s pest-control operations, working closely with municipal departments, residents and civic organizations
“I believe this program is part of the solution for cleaner streets as we separate food sources from our trash,” Flynn said in a release about the expanded food waste curbside collection initiative. “This is much better for the environment and will help improve the quality of life for all our residents.”