Sustainable Cities Collective has re-launched as Smart Cities Dive! Click here to learn more!

Republic to preserve landfill capacity in Boise, ID through curbside organics program


Dive Brief:

  • Residents of Boise, ID are being asked to opt into a new citywide curbside organics collection program managed by Republic Services that is set to begin in June, as reported by the Idaho Statesman.
  • Residents will see an increase in their monthly bills of $8.40 and those who participate will receive a $5 rebate, similar to what the city does for recycling. The city estimates this will lead to 80% participation. Residents that already compost their organic waste can apply for a waiver.
  • Previous analysis by the city found that up to 45% of the material residents send to the local Ada County Landfill is organic and could be diverted for composting.

Dive Insight:

Boise has been working toward this program since at least 2014 and has moved efficiently to implement it since this current version was proposed last spring. Capacity is a concern at the Ada County Landfill — known for being one of the first to use drones to collect aerial images — and this program aims to alleviate that.

Buy-in from residents is key to the success of any curbside organics program, but efficient and economical processing is the critical component. Boise will be taking the organics to a farm that it owns nearby and crews will sort out contaminants before placing the material into windrows. Transportation costs and excessive contamination are some of the most common obstacles to making curbside programs work, so Boise appears to be in better shape than other municipalities from the outset.

Keeping residents engaged over time despite the slight increase in their monthly bills will also require continued education. Boise will be offering free finished compost, which has proven successful in Anchorage, AK, and could also make food waste reduction a citywide priority through ongoing events as seen in cities such as Nashville. The alternative is to let the Ada County Landfill reach capacity and begin exporting waste farther, which is all but guaranteed to be more expensive for residents than this new organics increase.

This post originally appears on our sister publication, Waste Dive. Our mission is to provide busy professionals like you with a bird's-eye-view of the Waste industry in 60 seconds. To subscribe to our daily newsletter click here.