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March 5,
2034

Arlington opens first facility to support mandatory composting - March 5, 2034

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In 2033 Arlington passed a composting mandate that prevented residents, restaurants, and food stores from disposing of organic waste in the trash. The compulsory composting plan was created after advocacy from Green Teams and Zero Waste Arlington, two local organizations with an emphasis on waste reduction. Arlington youth played an important role in supporting the legislation just as they did for introducing and managing composting in Arlington’s schools during prior years. Following the initiative’s institution, Arlington opened its first composting facility to cache the food waste which became illegal to throw away. 

Composting in Arlington began with backyard compost bins, drop off bins, and curbside subscription services. These programs were made widely available in the 2020s as the popularity of composting grew. With the anticipated increase in collected organic material after the ban, Arlington developed a central composting complex to match the growing demand, to allow all residents to easily discard organic waste, and to reduce the fossil fuel and transportation costs involved in shipping waste to another community for composting. 

The composting mandate diverted food waste from incinerators. As a result, Arlington was able to save approximately three thousand tons of material annually from being incinerated. Incinerated waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and these facilities produce harmful pollutants that threaten human health in surrounding areas. Seventy-nine percent of U.S incinerators are near low-income and minority communities meaning incinerators endanger marginalized groups on a much greater scale. 

The Environmental Protection Agency examines the issue of food waste from a national perspective; the U.S has the greatest food waste generation in the world. This food waste often ends up in landfills making food waste approximately a quarter of all municipal solid waste. When food waste ends up in disposal areas it doesn’t enrich the soil through decomposition. Instead the food rots and produces methane gas which traps heat in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Composting food scraps makes healthy soils that come with many benefits such as improved water retention and a reduced need for pesticides and fertilizers. Composting converts waste into a product that is useful. It’s nature’s way of recycling, and a timeless tradition that gives back to the community. 

 

Take action now:

Read more about the different ways to compost in Arlington here.  Advocate for a comprehensive composting program that would tackle our town’s organic waste systemically.

 

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/21/us-pollution-incinerators-waste-burning-plants-report

https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/sustainable-management-food-basics