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County solid waste authority wants to do more of it

Compost options

January 20, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE -Residents of Marquette County may soon have yet another option when it comes to curbside waste disposal.

Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority Director Rick Aho gave a Jan. 11 presentation to the Marquette City Commission and explained that the MCSWMA now has the ability to compost materials.

Aho's hope is that the city of Marquette - and ideally, local townships - decides to begin recycling and composting at the landfill when their current contract runs out in June of 2013.

Article Photos

A Marquette resident is seen on a recent summer day bringing material into the city compost site, which is located off Lakeshore Boulevard. (Journal file photo)

Currently, the city contracts with a company to haul solid waste to the landfill and transport recyclable materials to non-local sites. Their is currently no curbside composting.

If local residents utilized the service, Aho said years of life could be added to the MCSWA's landfill. Officials from neighboring townships were present at the meeting as well.

Aho estimated that 90 percent of waste produced in the county could be repurposed, with 30 percent recycled and 60 percent composted. The compost would also be available for residents to use.

Much like the way in which residents currently separate their recycling from their trash when they bring their waste out to the curb, the same would have to be done for compostable materials.

"If they come to the landfill and they are not separated, they never will be, legally," Aho said. "The solid waste authority has a licensed composting facility, so if this material is source-separated, it can be (composted)."

Items that can be composted include wood, plants, most food and many paper products.

Aho did not provide specific numbers related to the volume of materials that may be composted under his plan, but said that information could be determined over time.

Without easy access to a composting site, many residents simply throw away their organic materials.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the total municipal solid waste generated in 2010 was almost 250 million tons, with organic materials continuing to be the largest component. Municipal solid waste is basically defined as household waste and does not come from corporations or in the form hazard materials.

Paper rings in as the largest percentage of waste produced at 28.5 percent, followed by food scraps at 13.9 percent and yard trimmings at 13.4 percent. Plastics, metals and glass account for just under one quarter of the total percentage.

However, some of that waste was recycled. The paper category rang in at 71.31 million tons of waste generated, with 44.57 million tons recycled or composted, which is 62.5 percent. Most other categories saw under a 30 percent recycling rate.

Of the nearly 250 million tons of MWS generated in 2010, only 34 percent was recycled or composted.

The city of Marquette offers its own composting site seasonally from mid-April to mid-November to residents and people who own property within the city.

Others can start their own composting pile in their yards or other designated areas. Some businesses even sell composting bins that can be kept inside the house as well.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.



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