Landfill space continues to shrink, and creating more landfills can be a controversial issue in communities. Waste hauling costs are also on the rise, making long distance shipping of waste cost prohibitive. Food waste accounts for approximately 15 percent, or 20,000 tons (40,000,000 pounds), of material at landfills annually in Linn County. Food decomposing inside a landfill creates methane, a greenhouse gas, which is 20 to 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
"While landfill methane capture systems are beneficial, they do not capture 100 percent of methane emissions," said Mount Mercy's Assistant Dean of Adult Accelerated Programs Colette Atkins. "Mount Mercy is pleased to partner with Solid Waste Agency and GreenRU for this very important project that is benefitting our community and our environment."
Pre-consumer kitchen food scraps were collected using compostable bags, which were stored in buckets, gallon carts, and three-yard "organics only" dumpsters. The project investment for a 14-week period totaled $1,471.80. Mount Mercy started the project on October 18, 2012, having organic waste picked up on a weekly basis by GreenRU 40-foot organics-only trucks/trailers.
As the project moves forward, Mount Mercy will work with GreenRU and Solid Waste Agency to improve and expand the organic recycling initiative. Organic waste materials contain valuable nutrients vital to agricultural production and healthy soils. These nutrients are lost once buried inside a landfill and must be artificially replicated through use of oil-based, non-renewable fertilizers.
For more information, contact Colette Atkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 319-363-1323 ext. 1862.