SHOREWOOD - Shorewood residents have a garbage bin and a recycle bin, but starting in June, 100 residents will have a third bin for compost.
Shorewood is accepting registration forms for its new municipal compost program, which will charge interested residents with a $12.75 monthly fee to collect food scraps and yard waste from their new compost bin. The program is in its pilot phase, and will only allow 100 residents for a one-year program. If the program is successful, the village board will consider adopting the program on a permanent basis.
Municipal compost collection has become mainstream in cities like Seattle and San Francisco, and the trend doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon. In November, the city of Milwaukee started a pilot compost program with 600 residents in the Bay View, East Side, Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. Like Milwaukee, Shorewood's rolling compost bins will be emptied by Compost Crusader. Unlike Milwaukee's 65-gallon bins, Shorewood will use 32-gallon bins with locking lids to address concerns about rodents sneaking into the bins.
Compost bins will be picked up weekly from April through November and bi-weekly from December through March. Compost collection initially will be limited to one-, two- and three-family homes.
The program was crafted by Shorewood Conservation Committee, which conducted a survey to gauge the public's willingness to pay for compost pickup. Committee Chairman Josh Liberatore also conducted an informal pilot project of his own. He has been accepting bags of food scraps and yard waste in his driveway from about 25 families, which generate an average of about 500 pounds per month. He has been composting those materials in his backyard and at community gardens.
Liberatore said many Shorewood residents want to compost, but they do not have the space or the wherewithal to create a compost bin. Others might be turned off by the smell.
"What I found is there are a steady stream of families interested in waste diversion, but for whatever reason, they haven't achieved it on their own," he said. "I think there is something in Shorewood where people want to participate in these opportunities, even though maybe regionally we are not quite there yet."
Compostable items include fruits, vegetables, egg shells and coffee grounds — almost all food items except for raw meat, raw seafood, grease and fat.
Kitchen scraps make up about 20 to 30 percent of a household's waste, Liberatore said, and it costs about twice as much for Waste Management to handle organic waste compared to the cost of processing compost. By diverting kitchen scraps into compost bins instead of trash cans, the village would save an estimated $1 per person, per month on landfill tipping fees. That cost estimate, also used by the city of Milwaukee, led the city to subsidize the program at $1 per customer per month.
While the city was able to save money on in-house billing, Shorewood did not have the same accounting capacity, which led the village to contribute an extra $1.25 per person per month for billing services. By providing $2.25 per person per month in subsidies, the village was able to keep the customers' monthly fee at a rate that has been proven successful in other cities, Liberatore said. When including the cost of purchasing the rolling compost bins, the village will spend $9,160 on the compost project.
To apply for the compost program, download an application at http://www.villageofshorewood.org/764/Organics-Collection-Pilot-Program. The deadline to apply is April 14.