Boston’s curbside composting program has kicked off, with thousands of households set to have their food scraps picked up for free in a city-run program. The program will ramp up over the next three years with more households, part of Boston’s push to recycle 80% of all waste by 2035. Industry experts say the demand has long been here, with paid private programs that can cost more than $10 a week filling the gap. Now some residents will have food scraps like produce, coffee grounds, eggs and meat collected for free to be turned into compost and converted into energy.

The city is also expanding Project Oscar, launched in 2015, which currently has 15 bins across the city where residents can drop off their food waste. By the end of the summer, there will be 20 to 25 sites in total, with new sites to bring scraps at local gardens and farmers markets. “Project Oscar — it’s been great,” said Theresa Savarese, Boston’s zero-waste manager, who said 200 tons of food scraps were dropped off into its bins in the last fiscal year. “However, we have a lot of food waste to collect. In order to do so, we want to make it even more accessible to residents.”

Organic material such as food scraps and yard trimmings account for about a third of all municipal waste, making it a major site of opportunity to redirect material otherwise destined for landfills. There’s another component to the environmental impact, too: When food scraps are trapped in landfills, buried under piles of garbage, the organics can’t access oxygen while they decompose, resulting in the production of the greenhouse gas methane.

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Author: Hannah Reale, WGBH News
Image: Meredith Nierman, WGBH News