Right now, something like 100 U.S. cities have curbside composting programs. That is, residents put their food scraps, yard trimmings and other organic waste into special bins alongside their trash and recycling cans and the municipality hauls it not to the landfill but to an enormous compost heap, where it's turned into fertilizer.
Dallas is not one of those cities, nor does it seem like it will become one in the near future. Its recently updated solid waste management plan calls for developing some sort of composting program over the next five years, but it's not clear if it will include curbside service. One doubts it.
In the meantime at least one local business is hoping to fill the void, according to Green Source DFW:
To offer residents an alternative green solution for disposing of food waste, Recycle Revolution partnered with the Lake Highlands-based Texas Worm Ranch, which sells worms and worm-based products to organic gardeners. The company requires large amounts of food scraps to feed its worms, which in turn produce castings used to make "worm wine," an organic concoction used as fertilizer. O'Neill said both businesses saw this as an opportunity to take the operation full circle by picking up compost from surrounding homes and delivering it to the neighborhood business.
The service costs $8 per
monthweek (Note: Green Source DFW's original story incorrectly said it was $8 per month), with a one-time fee of $20 for the 5-gallon bucket with compostable liners. Homeowners can fill the bucket each week with organic matter (excluding meat and dairy), along with egg shells, tea bags, paper towels and even pizza boxes cut into small pieces. As a bonus, customers earn compost credits and receive a bag of compost each quarter based on material produced.
Right now, the program is limited to the Lake Highlands area (ZIP codes 75238 and 75218), but the company hopes to expand. And that's about the point when code enforcement will trot out some hitherto obscure ordinance prohibiting the unauthorized transfer of food scraps by motor vehicle, or something similarly arcane, and shut the operation down. That, in turn, will prompt a years-long City Council battle over the proper regulation of composting that will be resolved at about the time that we start getting our daily intake of calories and nutrients via flavorless capsules, making the whole thing obsolete. Mark my words.
Update at 12:54 p.m.: Melanie O'Neill, Recycle Revolution's marketing manager, filled in some of the details. The company launched the service last week and so far has fewer than 20 customers, a number she expects will grow as the word gets out. The blue buckets come with a compostable bag that is picked up every Monday and taken to the Texas Worm Ranch.
O'Neill doesn't think the program will run into any bureaucratic hurdles. The company got the green light from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before launching curbside composting and thus is compliant with existing regulations.
"These little residential compost providers are popping up all over the country," she said. "We're not reinventing the wheel. We're just bringing it to Dallas."
As for the next step, Recycle Revolution is eying Lakewood, then maybe Highland Park, where residents have both expressed interest in participating. For now, though, the company is being careful not to overextend itself.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.