‘It’s not icky’: City of Madison to launch food scraps recycling program

Madison, Wis. –  Banana peels, coffee grounds and eggshells are things many are used to tossing straight into their trash bin, but the City of Madison has a new place for them to go with sustainability in mind.

After getting help in the form of a USDA grant, the city is taking steps to minimize food waste in the community with its launch of a food scraps recycling drop off program set to begin Tuesday.

“We’ve already had a lot of residents reach out and ask us questions, so we’re thinking we’re going to have a lot of participation, which is great,” said the city’s Sustainability Program Coordinator Stacie Reece.

The program is part of a larger effort by city leaders to reduce food waste in Madison with the goal of diverting 50 percent of it away from the Dane County landfill by 2030. Reece said food waste is the landfill’s biggest contributor, making up 20 percent of all waste.

To address the problem, modeling a successful program in Baltimore, city leaders have set up two food scraps drop-off sites at the McPike Park and the South Madison farmers markets.

There, people will be able to drop off raw fruits and vegetables, grains and rice, and a few other compostable items.

“It’s not icky, it’s actually part of the circle of life,” said Reece. “Really putting those nutrients away from the landfill and back into our soil to help grow fruits and vegetables.”

Reece said the hope is that by moving away from limited curbside collection to the new drop-off sites, where Sustain Dane staff will be on hand to make sure people are bringing in the right materials, they can avoid the contamination issues of the past.

Reece said if enough people utilize the farmers market drop-off sites, they will likely expand the program to other parts of the city.

The collected food scraps will then be given to Neighborhood Food Solutions, a Madison area urban farm, for their compost.