Brown County Expands Compost Recycling Program

Recycling Unused Food Expected To Extend Landfill's Life

handful of compost
U.S. Department of Agriculture (CC-BY)

People in Brown County can now compost their old pizza boxes and other organic food refuse through a government program.

Brown County is expanding a pilot program to collect food scraps. County leaders said if organic material can be diverted, it will extend the life of landfills and ultimately save taxpayers money.

The county is adding a third collection site where people can dump off things like uneaten food, paper plates and pizza boxes. Mark Walter, with Brown County’s Port and Resouce Recovery Department, said the initial two sites have collected 7.5 tons of organic waste in the program’s first year.

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“The goal is to see what we can divert from landfilling that’s not necessarily recyclable in the traditional sense but can be composted organically,” said Walter.

Walter said the effort’s carbon footprint is probably not offset at this point.

“But again, it’s a pilot program,” he said. “We’re just trying to see what kind of response we get, what kind of material is out there, what we need to do for further education. The ultimate goal, I guess, would be to look at what kind of curbside program might be viable in our area.”

Walter estimates up to 25 percent of dumped waste is organics that can be composted. He said if a portion of that can be put to other use, it will extend the life of the county’s landfill.

Brown County trucks the waste 50 miles south to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s bio-digester. Walter said the trucks’ fuel usage will be considered as the county looks at its carbon footprint and the viability of the program.

The composting sites and transportation are funded by Brown County’s recycling revenues and fees. Walter said no additional taxpayer money is being used.