Necessity is a Mother | 2018-09-13

Two weeks ago we were told that we needed to reduce the amount of non-compostable contamination in the food waste we are delivering to our composting partner, Paygro, or risk being barred from patronizing (i.e. unloading at) their facility.

We were also told that specifically milk cartons, some coated paper products, and BPI certified compostable products were not breaking down adequately in their operation. Previously, these items had been green-lighted, but as of two weeks ago they were officially a no go. It’s just taken this long to discover some items are not composting adequately.

Everyone has been responsive.

I sent a mass email and reached out to a couple customers who I knew were using a lot of the problematic items.

We have been in the process of reaching out to each service location in order to more proactively help with contamination prevention, and we’re more actively picking through food waste (i.e. decontaminating) on site during routes and when unloading at Paygro.

There is already less non-compostable contamination. The number of coated paper items are dwindling, and questionable compostable products are being tested to determine how they actually respond to Paygro’s process.

We’re working to figure out how to ramp up more proactive communications with customers about how each service visit has gone. This gets hairy, not only from the perspective of gathering and synthesizing data but also from the perspective of not creating a nuisance in email inboxes.

So what is the necessity and why is it a mother?

The necessity is that food waste be free of non-compostable contamination. It’s a mother because no matter how good our service we’re dependent on our customers to keep food waste contamination free, and to a pretty significant degree, dependent on Paygro to hold us accountable for trashy food waste.

Generally, the food waste we collect is really pretty good, and in the past we’ve not taken issue with modest, even significant, levels of contamination because it had not been raised as an issue to us. Now that time has passed.

We’re proud to have created a service which is capable of conveniently getting food waste from your back door to a composter near you, and we’re even more proud of the in-house programming you’re developing to keep food waste contamination free.

A child of necessity

More acutely, figuring out how to help locations do an even better job keeping contamination out of food waste carts is now the job to be done.

To that end we’re adding this blog to the list of things we’re doing to help keep you informed and enlightened regarding our mutual goal of strengthening our communities by keeping food waste out of landfills.

You can expect we will continue sharing our best composting tips, communicating status, and in rare occasions per location charging for decontamination or discontinuing services all together as a last resort.

We’ll be excited and grateful for your feedback, service and resource ideas, likes, shares, inquiries, and comments as our services and accompanying support grows and evolves.

What about that dependence on Paygro bit?

We are 6 months away from having our own compost facility where the whole concept is to provide a level of tolerance for that darn produce sticker that was on what had been a banana peel. We’ll need your help keeping contamination free then too, but we will be less at risk of operational changes if we’re responsible for doing the composting ourselves.

In the meantime the jury is still out on whether or not we’ll be able to get back in good standing with Paygro. There are other more expensive and/or time consuming prospective composting partners out there. Getting shut out of Paygro will complicate things, but contamination will be an issue to be resolved regardless.

We can’t do it without you.

We are doing everything we can, and Paygro is doing everything it can. However, we need your help keeping food waste contamination free. The simple but admittedly difficult thing of perfectly 100% contamination free food waste would go a long way toward helping Paygro know that we care and that they can reliably count on us to provide a safe input for their operation.

Keeping food waste contamination free requires an active commitment from everyone connected to a composting program. Thank you for yours.

David AndrenewsComment