Ipswitch’s composting operation turns dry yard waste — such as grass clippings, sewage sludge, holiday trees, and, at this time of year, leaves — into black gold: safe, dark soil that gets sprinkled on local lawns and goes into local vegetable and flower gardens. The composting operation also saves Ipswich taxpayers $300,000 to $400,000 a year — they don’t have to pay to discard or transport the waste, and the program helps prevent residents from generating waste in the first place. In 2020, the curbside composting program reduced a participating household’s waste by 40 percent. “Composting is bringing organics back to the soil,” Water and Wastewater Director Vicki Halmen said.
The commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection issues a Type 1 permit “approval of suitability” for the soil the composting program generates. “Composting, when it’s done right, generates so much heat,” said Halmen. “It is safe.” Ipswich residents who participate in a curbside recycling program can take the soil the composting operation generates at the Transfer Station. Black Earth Compost in Gloucester also has a collection contract.
The composting program has two parts: The residential curbside recycling half and the town commercial half, which includes composting sewage waste and the yard leaves residents take to the curb for town pick-up the week before Thanksgiving.