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Curbside composting program launches in Boston

"This municipally-funded program is a major milestone for New England."

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
Some of the composting piles at Massachusetts Natural Fertilizer Co. in Westminster. Suzanne Kreiter / The Boston Globe

A curbside composting program, announced by Mayor Michelle Wu’s office at the end of May, kicked off Monday in Boston, with 10,000 households signed up to have their food waste picked up by the city. 

The program is part of Mayor Wu’s commitment to make Boston a Green New Deal City by reducing the city’s reliance on landfills. 

“In Boston we do big things by getting the small things right, and curbside food waste collection is an important example of how we can each have an impact in moving our city toward sustainability with how we dispose of our food scraps,” Wu said in a release that announced the program in May.

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Residents can sign up online and receive a compost bucket that will be collected on scheduled trash and recycling days. The program was capped at 10,000 households for the first year and enrollment is now full, but residents can join a waitlist for the future. Each year, the goal is to add 10,000 or more households to the program, depending on demand. 

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“Food waste constitutes one-third of the current waste stream, and we’re excited to introduce this program to Boston residents to help meet our zero waste goals,” said Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “Our goal is to educate residents on ways to reduce the amount of food waste they generate and give them ways to responsibly dispose of what they can’t use or donate.” 

The composting initiative will help Boston achieve its Zero Waste Plan, which set a goal of reducing waste by 2035. The city is also expanding Project Oscar — a food waste program started in 2015 that allows residents to drop compost off into bins — by adding nearly 25 new sites across the city.

Compost will be collected through a partnership between Garbage to Garden and Save that Stuff. Compost will be sent to Save that Stuff’s composting site in West Bridgewater to be turned into soil for Boston parks, gardens, and schools, and to Management’s CORe Facility in Charlestown to be converted into clean energy.

Boston is only the fifth city in Massachusetts to offer this service, following Manchester-by-the-Sea, Wenham, Cambridge, and Hamilton, according to GBH. With a significantly higher population than any of those cities (even combined), Boston’s composting program is expected to have a large impact.

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“This municipally-funded program is a major milestone for New England,” Garbage to Garden President and Founder Tyler Frank said.

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