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Mayor Walsh Expands Boston's Community Compost Program with New Pilot

September 12, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that the City of Boston is piloting new approaches to a community compost program in Boston. This fall, the City will be collecting residential food waste at two communal residential food waste collection containers dubbed, “Project Oscar”  and three farmers market.

“Composting is important for Boston’s growing urban agriculture movement and meeting our waste reduction goals,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “This program demonstrates Boston’s commitment to composting and willingness to try new approaches.”

Project Oscar, the result of a public-private partnership with innovation design firm, IDEO, consists of two key-pad locked containers for collecting food scraps that will be placed in two separate dense neighborhoods, East Boston and the North End. The initial pilot, which will run from September 22 to November 30, will be limited to 200 Boston residents living near the containers. They will be asked to go through a brief online training and provide intermittent feedback throughout the pilot. Participants will be given a code that allows them to unlock the bins and drop-off their food scraps at their convenience.

“As we explore various means of getting food out of our waste stream, lack of storage is often a major impediment in Boston’s denser neighborhoods,” said Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy. “Project Oscar is a new model that may help Boston and other dense cities collect food scraps in neighborhoods, where it might not be possible through traditional collection methods.”

The farmer’s market collection is a spin off of last year’s pilot and will begin this Friday through the end of the market seasons. Last year’s program diverted over 6,000 pounds of food scraps from the waste stream. With support from City Soil, this year’s program is experimenting with three new markets--Dudley Square, Ashmont-Peabody and Roslindale. Also different from last year, the Department of Public Works will be providing the hauling services. With this pilot, the City continues to explores ways to make this program fiscally and environmentally sustainable.

“The City’s 2011 Climate Action Plan, which is being updated this year, establishes a goal of diverting 50 percent of residential waste from our solid waste stream by 2020,” said Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “A comprehensive organic waste program will be an important part of meeting this goal.”

To participate in Project Oscar, you must be a resident of either East Boston or the North End. The containers will be located in Maverick Square and by the Nazzaro Center. If you are interested in the participating, please email Oscar@Boston.gov or call the Environment Department at 617-635-3850.

The food scraps collected from both the farmers markets and Project Oscar will be taken by Public Works to Rocky Hill Farm. The community compost program was a collaborative effort between the Department of Public Works, Office of Food Initiatives, Greenovate Boston and New Urban Mechanics, and is supported by City Soil, BioBag, and IDEO. It builds on the City’s continued efforts to increase composting throughout Boston. This summer, Public Works added four new leaf and yard waste collection days in addition to its regular spring and fall collection. These new collection days were in response to feedback PWD solicited last fall. Thus far, an additional 450 tons of leaf and yard waste have been diverted from the waste stream through these additional collection days.

About Greenovate Boston

Greenovate Boston is a collective movement to ensure a greener, healthier and more prosperous future for the city by meeting Boston’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Visit http://greenovateboston.org for more information.