Food waste pilot

A pile of food waste from Grand Teton National Park concessionaires sits in compostable bags in the West Yellowstone Compost Facility. During the inaugural waste reduction pilot program in the national park, which aimed to divert waste from landfills to composting facilities, a total of 73.3 tons was composted in West Yellowstone, Montana, an average of 3.3 tons each week.

Terra Firma Organics has won a contract to launch a composting program for Teton County for the next five years.

The Teton County Board of County Commissioners approved the deal Tuesday, budgeting $738,645 for the program for the next year.

Right now, Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling composts only lumber, yard waste, grass clippings and manure. Now, for the first time, food waste composting will be offered on a pilot program basis to some commercial businesses, Public Works Director Heather Overholser said.

“We want to start small and grow slowly because food waste composting can be challenging when it comes to contamination and managing that,” Overholser said in April. “By having a handful of businesses that are large food waste producers, we can capture quite a lot of food waste but be able to work hand-in-hand with them.”

While operations will begin in November, the pilot is planned to be introduced in summer 2020.

Terra Firma Organics is a Jackson company that focuses on recycling organic waste into landscaping materials. The firm was chosen over submissions from Dirt Hugger in Washington state and WyoFarm Composting from Thayne. Terra Firma is the same company that has so far operated Teton County's existing yard waste compost program.

In 2017, Teton County was a partner in a pilot program to compost food waste in Grand Teton National Park. In summer 2018, the second year of the program, the park diverted about 300,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill.

The effort to increase the amount of food waste diverted from landfills falls in line with Teton County’s Road to Zero Waste Plan, which aims to divert 60% of total waste from the landfill by 2030. From 2015 to 2018, compost comprised 15% of solid waste that was diverted.

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that Terra Firma is the same company that has so far operated Teton County's existing yard waste compost program.

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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