People who live in Boise’s single-family homes have the month of March to choose the number and size of trash, recycling and composting carts they want as the city and its waste-collecting contractor, Republic Services, prepare to launch a citywide composting program this year.
About half of the people who live in single-family homes in Boise received a notice along with their regular city utility bills this week of coming changes to services. The other half should receive the same notice next month, city spokesman Mike Journee said.
The overall scope and fees for the program remains unchanged since October, when city staff and the City Council last discussed the topic. If it takes shape as proposed, people who participate in the composting program will pay an additional $3.40 per month. People who choose not to participate would actually pay more money — an extra $8.40 per month — because they wouldn’t qualify for a participation rebate of $5.
People who don’t want to participate because they already compost their organic materials could apply for a waiver. If granted, these voluntary composters still would pay the same amount as the people who participate in the program.
Sometime in the next few months, the City Council is expected to take up the issue again and finalize the composting program. If all goes according to plan, residents could receive composting carts around June 1, Journee said.
The central goal of a large-scale composting program is to reduce the amount of trash Boise residents contribute to the Ada County Landfill. Space is in the landfill is limited, and dumping garbage there is a big cost for the city and its residents. Also, trash rots in the landfill, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat much more aggressively than the carbon dioxide released in the composting process.
According to analysis of Boiseans’ waste, organic materials — food scraps, grass clippings, brush and the like — that could be composted make up around 45 percent of all waste material discarded by residents of single-family homes.
“If we can make a dent in that total, then it’s going to mean that the landfill’s going to last longer,” Journee said. “Plus, we create this great service for our residents, who can come back and get compost from us.”
Boise Public Works Department spokesman Colin Hickman said crews involved in the program will sort items before they’re placed in composting rows at the city’s Twenty-Mile South Farm. That will help keep contaminants out of the final product: a nutrient-rich substance that can help gardens and lawns grow.
“Same with recycling, we realize it’s a citywide program,” Hickman said. “So are you going to keep out 100 percent of things? Say, like Saran wrap from recycling? No. But you hope to minimize the amount of (rogue) material that goes in.”
PROPOSED TRASH, RECYCLING, COMPOSTING FEE SCHEDULE
Similar to its recycling program, the city of Boise proposes a $5-per-month rebate to encourage residents to participate in a new composting program. City staffers believe this will convince 80 percent of single-family households to participate.
Proposed prices for people who do and don’t participate in the recycling and composting programs:
Trash only (no recycling or composting rebates): $28.64
Trash and recycling (no composting rebate): $23.64
Trash, recycling and composting (both rebates apply): $18.64
Trash, recycling and composting, with extra trash cart: $23.64
Trash, recycling and composting, with extra composting cart: $19.24
Trash, recycling and composting, with small (48- or 65-gallon, instead of 95-gallon) trash cart: $17.64
Source: city of Boise