Board’s input sought on regional organics recycling program

A regional organics recycling program is in development, though it wouldn’t be implemented until 2020.
A regional organics recycling program is in development, though it wouldn’t be implemented until 2020. Centre Daily Times, file

A regional organics recycling program might be a few years off, but the development is already underway.

Pam Adams, Centre Region refuse and recycling coordinator, updated the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors about the program at its work session on Monday night.

“This is the beginning of the conversation,” she said.

The program would serve residents of Benner, College, Harris, Ferguson and Patton townships. State College borough already has its own organics recycling program.

The borough’s program has an 80 percent participation rate, with 30 percent of waste diverted to a compost facility, Adams said.

To determine interest of residents in the five townships, a survey was done in spring 2015. More than 700 residents — 4.85 percent of the 15,100 customers — responded. More than 80 percent indicated that they were very likely or somewhat likely to participate in a weekly curbside organics recycling program.

In addition, 66 percent said they’d be willing to pay a nominal fee to participate.

The organics recycling program wouldn’t begin until June 2020 because a new contract for refuse and recycling collection won’t be awarded until 2019.

There’s a lot that could be composted, Adams said, from food waste to yard trimmings to pizza boxes.

The Centre Region has the potential to compost 3,600 tons per year of organic waste. In a typical year, residents send 11,000 tons of refuse to landfill.

The distance to the landfill is 80 miles versus 10 to the compost facility, Adams said.

Supervisors Janet Whitaker and Laura Dininni asked whether the program and data included businesses. Adams said it would only include residents.

Adams sought input from the board on five questions:

▪ Should the organics carts be owned by the Centre Region Council of Governments or by the service provider?

▪ Should COG also consider carts for trash collection?

▪ How should costs be distributed for the organics program?

▪ Should the program provide organics collection to properties outside the Regional Growth Boundary?

▪ Is there support for a drop-off program in the interim?

Adams said an interim drop-off program could go into effect before 2020 for people who want to start composting sooner.

A fee associated with the drop-off program would include a kitchen caddy, 5 or 6-gallon transport container and an ID card, Adams said.

People could drop off their organic waste to several staffed locations throughout the region, she added.

Currently, people can drop off miscellaneous plastic to collection locations.

Supervisor Rita Graef said she’d be in favor of a drop-off program.

It’d be worth trying, Chairman Steve Miller said, but miscellaneous plastic and food waste would be different to collect.

The next steps will be to finalize the program design and seek approval.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz