Wu Announces Expansion of Curbside Food Waste Collection

Special to the Times

 In celebration of Earth Day (April 22) and building on her commitment to make Boston a greener and more sustainable city, Mayor Michelle Wu and the Public Works Department announced the expansion of the food waste curbside collection program, increasing from its current capacity servicing 10,000 households to 30,000. Since launching in August 2022, the program has allowed residents to conveniently dispose of their household food waste, while also reducing the City’s reliance on landfills and incinerators. The curbside food waste collection program was initially announced last May. The City is now surpassing the original expansion goal for the second year of the program, due to high interest from residents. To date, the program has collected over 800 tons of curbside food waste at no cost to residents. 

 “As we celebrate Earth Day, I’m excited to announce the expansion of this highly successful program that builds on our efforts to make Boston a Zero Waste City through sustainable food waste disposal,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The strong interest in our pilot program gave us a clear sign that residents are eager to participate in curbside food waste collection if the resources are available. This expansion will make it easier for more residents to help our City fight the effects of climate change.”

“I look forward to the expansion of the curbside food waste collection program to more of our households. I have been working closely with my Council colleagues on the issue of pest control, and I believe this program is part of the solution for cleaner streets as we separate food sources from our trash,” said Council President Ed Flynn. “This is much better for the environment and will help improve the quality of life for all our residents.”

Beginning in July, the City’s Waste Reduction Division will begin onboarding new households into the program, and will continue to add households each month until its capacity of 30,000 is reached. Residents who were previously placed on the waiting list for pick-up service will be enrolled first in the program. Residents who have not previously signed up but want to can do so here. Food waste curbside pick-up will continue to align with residents’ scheduled trash and recycling collection days. 

“The interest in the curbside food scrap program has been remarkable, so expanding our service capacity and offering the program to more residents was an easy decision,” said Chief of Streets, Sanitation and Transportation Jascha Franklin Hodge. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the community as we work together to achieve our Zero Waste goals.”

“At the City Council, we’re committed to moving toward a greener, cleaner Boston,” said Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara. “This expansion of the food scrap program signals exciting prospects for what we can achieve as a City when our goals align.”

The food waste, which is collected through a partnership between Garbage to Garden and Save That Stuff, is recycled to make clean energy and nutrient-rich compost. Food scraps sent to Waste Management’s CORe Facility in Charlestown are made into a slurry for easier processing. The slurry is then transported to North Andover’s GLSD anaerobic digestion facility where it is turned into biogas and renewable electricity which is sent to the grid. Composting is an important part of this program, and in partnership with Garbage to Garden and Save That Stuff, the City is exploring options to expand and secure more composting sites for Boston’s food waste.

Any Boston resident who lives in a residential building with six units or less is eligible to enroll in the program. The City is prioritizing enrollment in the program to residents in environmental justice communities, based on the state’s criteria for such communities coupled with proximity to a Project Oscar compost drop-off site. 

In June, compost bin “starter kits” will be delivered to residents whose curbside pick-up service begins in July. Another batch of curbside bins will be delivered in July with service beginning in August. The “starter kits” include an onboarding manual, a roll of liners, kitchen bin, collection bin, and a magnet outlining what food scraps are and are not accepted in the program. Accepted materials include common household food scraps such as coffee grounds, fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, and eggs. 

This expansion announcement aligns with Boston’s Zero Waste Plan, outlining the City’s strategy to reduce its waste by 2035. MassDEP estimates that food waste accounts for more than 25 percent of the waste stream in Massachusetts after recycling. When sent to landfills or incinerators, food waste can generate harmful greenhouse gasses, lose potential energy, cause pollution, and lose its agricultural benefits.

“We’re thrilled to see the curbside food scrap program expanding, and we look forward to our continued partnership with the City of Boston,” said Save That Stuff’s Director of Compost Operations, Alex Pogany. “We want to thank all the participating residents for taking proactive steps to conserve our resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”  

“With thousands of residents on the waitlist and new households signing up daily, the expansion of the curbside program comes at a perfect time,” said Garbage to Garden’s Annika Schmidt. “We encourage anyone interested to enroll.”

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