Bow explores options for composting waste 


Monitor staff

Published: 05-18-2023 7:16 PM

In an effort to reduce the amount of solid waste headed to landfills, the town of Bow has recently started to explore sustainable options for composting food waste.

Inspired by a successful pilot program in New London, the recycling and solid waste committee met on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of contracting with Renewal Compost, a residential and commercial pick-up service to divert the food waste generated in town.

Renewal Compost contracts with residents, municipalities and businesses to collect compost and then turn it into a nutrient-rich mixture that goes back into the soil at community gardens and local farms in New Hampshire to grow plants.

The company also has a drop-off location at Concord Food Co-op.

“Composting is considered an important part of reducing our solid waste,” said Sherri Cheney, the chair of Bow’s recycling and solid waste committee, explaining how some of the residents have shown interest in options to compost food scraps. “Food waste is a large portion of our trash.”

Approximately 25% of solid waste in landfills consists of food waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018 data. When food scraps decompose in anaerobic conditions, they release greenhouse gases like methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of contributing to global warming. By diverting food waste from landfills, not only can methane emissions be reduced, but valuable landfill space can also be conserved.

Cheney said New London’s pilot program, which initially involved only 20 families had demonstrated promising results. On average, these families generated around 40 gallons of food waste per week, slightly below the standard 65-gallon bin size. 

While most households in Bow have sufficient space on their properties for composting food scraps, managing compost piles can be challenging due to the potential for unpleasant odors.

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Leon Bernard, a Bow resident, voiced his support for the initiative, noting that his environmentally conscious neighbors would find it much more convenient to have their compost hauled off rather than dealing with the complexities of composting food scraps themselves.

The recycling and solid waste committee plans to present a pilot program proposal to the select board in June. The proposal would include placing two 65-gallon bins—one at the school and another at the community building.

Unlike in New London where only 20 families were involved in the program, Bow plans to open a pilot phase of the program to the entire community.

The cost of the pickup could range around $24 a week. 

“Whenever you reduce your trash the tipping fee would go down correspondingly,” Cheney said. “But in this case even if the bins were full, it wouldn’t cover the cost of the pickup.”

This trial initiative will provide an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of Renewal Compost’s services and assess the overall feasibility of implementing a wider composting program in Bow.