Recycle food to reduce carbon footprint

When Bainbridge Island residents throw out food, rather than recycle it, the waste goes on a 300-mile train trip to the Columbia Ridge Landfill in Oregon.

There it gets compacted into multiple layers of trash, a BI city newsletter says.

Food and other organic matter decomposing in the landfill emit methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.

Even if people use a garbage disposal, the wastewater treatment plant on Bainbridge ends up filtering out food matter (biosolids) and sending it to a landfill.

The “carbon footprint” thus includes the long trip to the landfill and the greenhouse gases it produces when it gets there.

This is why solid waste disposal is a key piece of BI’s strategy to reach the Climate Action Plan goal of reducing the island’s emissions by 90% by 2045.

However, BI can reduce its footprint by contracting with Bainbridge Disposal for biweekly curbside yard waste service at a cost of $10.04 a month.

All single family homes, as well as condo and apartment buildings and commercial businesses, may contract with Bainbridge Disposal.

People who don’t have enough to fill the 96-gallon cart can consider sharing the service with a neighbor or two. Or people can bag and empty the waste at the Bainbridge Disposal Transfer Station for a small fee.

Bainbridge Disposal trucks the organic material to North Mason Fiber, a commercial compost facility in Belfair, and turns it into a nutrient-rich compost. When added to landscaping, gardens or agricultural land, compost increases soil fertility and water retention and helps filter out pollutants.

Another environment-friendly option is at-home fruit and vegetable composting with a worm bin, outdoor bins or an in-kitchen appliance. Or find a friend with chickens or pigs—feeding animals is a higher use for scraps than composting.

Items that can be included in the yard waste bin include lawn clippings, plants and tree branches, food waste, shredded copy paper, fiber egg cartons, empty pizza boxes, paper towels and napkins.

Information provided by Deborah Rudnick of Climate Change Advisory Committee and Diane Landry of Zero Waste.