Sustainable Table: Commercial Composting

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ASHLAND, Ore. — Dozens of restaurants, schools and grocery stores take advantage of commercial composting. Juice ‘N Java at the Ashland Food Co-Op is a busy place; all of the coffee stand’s grounds and filters go into a five gallon bucket.

“We have about 8 to 10 gallons of waste a day, of just the grounds, coffee grounds, tea, and then the coffee filters,” explained Deli Manager Michelle O’Connor.

That bucket ends up in the commercial compost can. Commercial composting is a program through recology ashland sanitary service. Things like coffee grounds and pre-consumer produce are taking to composting through a contract with rogue disposal. Pre-consumer essentially amounts to any fruit or vegetable uncooked and hasn’t come in contact with the mouth.

“Processed food requires different permitting than is allowed with pre-consumer vegetables and fruit trimmings,” said Recology’s Risa Buck.

The Ashland Food Co-Op has plenty of pre-consumer waste. 8 of these bins fill up everyday and all of those bins are picked up by a sheep farmer, to be used as fodder for their livestock. It doesn’t cost a thing to give to the farmer.

“Many times, we can find a match all of those things can be put to another use,” said Sustainability Coordinator Stu Green.

It’s also significantly cheaper to compost rather than trash the coffee grounds.

“The same material treated as trash cost 3 times as much,” said Risa.

“It actually costs us less to get rid of our waste in these sustainable ways, than if we were putting everything into big plastic bags and having to buy that and then throw you know, putting it into the dumpster and having to fill up more dumpster space, which costs us more money,” Michelle explained.

Eventually, the coffee grounds and other pre-consumer products from 3 dozen business in Ashland and talent will become organic compost.

“Why not turn it into organic material that then we can plant and make our next garden,” said Risa. “That’s a great thing because then the loop is closed, it just keeps going round and round.”

At this time there isn’t a community composting program for families through Recology or Rogue Disposal.