By : Amelia Young
5 min read
2022’s environmental struggles have a fertile corner. Despite many losses, one practice seems to be spreading steadily: municipal food waste collection. Yesssssssssssssss.
This past summer I tried Project Oscar for the first time. Project Oscar is a free, 24-hour access, compost dropoff pilot program run by the City of Boston.
Finding the nearest dropoff site was tricky, and signage was non-existant, but I did find it and have been bringing my food scraps over ever since. Recently the number of drop-off locations expanded from 5 to 15, including a site much closer to me (with better signage!).
Here’s how I collect kitchen scraps for Project Oscar:
1 – Kitchen: Well-sealed jar under the sink. This keeps it accessible. I wash it regularly.
2 – Backyard: Kitty litter bucket with lid, inside plastic trash can with lid. You could do this on a porch or back stairs too.
3 – Torn brown paper bag in the backyard bin, some at the bottom and more on top of each deposit. This reduces odors and sops up food sluice.
Even more recently, I learned Boston has a new curbside food waste collection program for residents. The first round is full, with openings in spring, but you can join the waitlist now.
An increasing number of MA cities and towns are doing the same. Cambridge has offered residential food waste pickup since pre-pandemic, Ipswich processes their curbside collection at their transfer station, and Watertown rolled out their first bins this fall. Keeping food waste out of the garbage saves towns money by reducing trash pickup costs, and it’s better for the environment in many ways. Uneaten asparagus will create harmful greenhouse gasses in a landfill, but when devoured by the microorganisms in compost it sequesters carbon and puts nutrients in the resulting soil.
Not all food scrap collection programs accept the same items. Meat and dairy can only be broken down by compost systems that reach high enough temperatures, like the large compost piles run by businesses. “Anaerobic food digesters” can also process meat and dairy, using bacteria in an oxygen-free environment and creating biogas for fuel use. This isn’t the same as a composting process and has a very different output, gas instead of soil.
Boston’s curbside pickup program will eat your cheese and chicken bones, but Project Oscar is strictly vegetarian.
Each organization has a “What we accept” list on their website.
I highly recommend trying out some form of composting or food waste collection. I haven’t had any problems so far and I live in Rat City.
Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #152 November 2022
Check out all the art and columns of November's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass