Ottawa County launches food composting program

More than 30% of food in the United States ends up in the trash. A new program from the Ottawa County Department of Public Health aims to keep that waste out of the landfill.
 
The county says its new residential food composting program is the only local public health-led residential composting program of its kind in West Michigan.
 
It allows residents and small businesses to reduce food waste in an environmentally friendly way that will benefit the Ottawa County environment.
 
Composting is a natural process where organic matter, such as food waste, is recycled, turning it into usable, enriching material for soil and plants. Composting reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, prevents soil erosion, increases soil fertility, improves water retention and quality and reduces the amount of usable material taken to local landfills. 
 
Reusing a resource
 
The Department of Public Health identified the need for a composting program in spring 2021 after seeing an increase in interest in such programs. The program was tested in 35 households in Grand Haven and Holland in 2021.
 
"A healthy community starts from the ground up. Healthy people can't exist without a healthy environment," says Kimberly Wolters, environmental health supervisor. "We want residents to think of it in the same way they think of recycling. Composting is about reusing a resource that would otherwise fill our landfills, and our program provides another option for residents to use and to give back and enrich our local environment."
 
John Miner, a composting pilot program user from Park Township, adds that “composting is the latest step in our journey to reduce the material our family sends to the landfill.  We tried composting in our backyard, but we failed to make it work. When we learned the Environmental Sustainability Center had a program of collecting food waste for composting, we signed up. Now we have one trash bag each week for the neighborhood trash service to deliver to the landfill.  The rest of our trash is recycled or composted. We feel we are helping the environment.”
 
Bags, bins available
 
Residents can purchase composting bags for $5 for one bag or $12 for three bags. A bin exchange program is available for $40/month for small businesses, groups or communities who want to compost together. Composters can return the filled bags to one of the public health department’s four sustainability centers located throughout the county. Sustainability centers are at:
 
14053 Quincy, Holland
16850 Comstock Avenue, Grand Haven
15600 68th, Coopersville
6693 Roger Drive, Jenison
 
More information on the composting program can be found by visiting miottawa.org/eco. The program is made possible through a Michigan Next Cycle MICROS grant. 
 

 

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.