It is the biggest trend in waste management: organics collection. City of Milwaukee officials want to know if it can work. Right now, the city is testing organics collection. Nearly 500 Milwaukee households signed up for a new organics composting pilot study. “I was really excited to see the city was doing this project,” said Nick Fleisher.

Fleisher’s family uses it mostly for kitchen scraps. “I’ve found that since we started the program, that our garbage bin is a lot less full each week,” Fleisher said. Before the program, Fleisher tried composting in his own backyard without much success. He said this is easier. “We have a garbage bin, a recycling bin and now we have a compost bin as well,” Fleisher said. Households who signed up for the project received a brown organics cart in November as part of a one-year pilot study.

During the winter, pick-up is every other week. The rest of year, the organics bins are picked up weekly. “The mayor and the Common Council have supported a policy of diverting 40% of what we generate from the landfill by the year 2020,” said Rick Meyers, the sanitation services manager for the City of Milwaukee.

The program’s participants are mostly single family homes in the Bayview, East Side and Riverwest neighborhoods. It costs $12.75 a month for collection. Milwaukee is hardly the first city to test an organics program. The city is following in the steps of places like Madison, Portland and Minneapolis. Here’s how Milwaukee’s compost pilot program works: You start with the compostable bag provided by the city.

You can compost any old fruits and vegetables, including the peels. You can  compost any bread, grains or nuts. In addition, cooked meat and any eggs or egg shells can go in the bin. You can also compost any dairy products. Lastly,  you can put in any coffee and the coffee filter. Yard waste can also go in the organics bin.

Once the ogranic materials are collected they are sent to Blue Ribbon Organics in Caledonia. Everything collected is dumped, ground up and churned into long lines called windrows. “The steam is the heat generated as that organic matter is breaking down into carbon dioxide and water,” Meyers explained.

The piles are continuously turned over to keep the decomposition going. The compost piles reach full maturity in three to six months depending on the season. Once it reaches the end stage, it can be sold to landscape supply companies and gardeners.

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