Compost Bins for Residents

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					Fact Sheet

Compost Bins for Residents
Why Is Backyard Composting Important?                volunteer training, the amount of bin subsidy (if
• The Legislature extended the State’s 50%           any) and the level of promotion conducted.
  material recovery goal from 2000 to 2009           Possible costs to include in a budget:
  and set an interim goal of 45% by 2005.            • Program administration (staff to design and
  Oregonians are recycling more waste each               oversee program)
  year, but we also continue to send more            • Bins (from $20 for a home-built type to over
  waste to the landfill.                                 $100 for commercial bins)
• Backyard composting helps to keep organic          • Delivery costs (trucking, contracting with a
  materials out of landfills, avoids the cost of         group or firm for delivery)
                                                                                                         Land Quality Division
  hauling materials to a central composting          • Program promotion (printed material,              Solid Waste Policy and
  site and turns waste into a useful garden              advertisements, mail, etc.)                     Program Development
  product.                                           • Educational outreach (site use, refreshments,     811 SW 6th Avenue
• For residents, making and using compost                instructors, etc.)                              Portland, OR 97204
                                                                                                         Phone: (503) 229-5696
  reduces the need to water as much in               • Cost associated with the bin distribution                (800) 452-4011
  summer or apply as many pesticides and                 event (parking lot rental, rental of canopies   Fax: (503) 229-5850
  chemical fertilizers. Compost also helps               to keep volunteers dry, directional signs,
  plants grow better.                                    coffee for volunteers, etc.)
• Communities that encourage backyard                Costs for operating a bin distribution program
  composting benefit by reducing water               can often be reduced when local governments
  demand and the amount of herbicides and            work cooperatively to order bins, provide
  pesticides in storm water run-off.                 workshops and promote the program.
• Compost use helps build the health of soils
  by increasing soil organic mater, nutrients        Some program options:
  and water-holding capacity.                        • Free bins (no cost to resident). The cost to
                                                        the community of providing free bins may
Why Distribute Compost Bins?                            be offset through the avoided cost of
Communities distribute compost bins for many            collection and handling yard trimmings in
of the same reasons they distributed recycling          communities that operate their own
bins during the 1980's and early 1990's. People         collection and/or solid waste disposal
respond enthusiastically to the availability of         systems.
reduced-price or free bins and participation         • Subsidized bins. This option is growing in
increases considerably. Residents who own bins          popularity. The assumption is that residents
have a visible reminder of their intention to           are more committed to composting if they
compost.                                                make a personal investment in paying for
The community can benefit from increased                the bin, as opposed to getting it for free.
residential participation through reduced               Communities purchase bins at a reduced
municipal costs for managing yard trimmings.            price and further discount the price to
Residents who normally pay for yard trimmings           residents through a subsidy or rebate.
collection can save money by practicing                 Residents typically pay from 1/4 to 1/2 of
backyard composting. In Portland residents pay          the retail cost of a bin.
for collection of yard debris whether they use it    • At-cost bins. Communities can obtain bins
or not. Some people may be concerned that a bin         at reduced or wholesale prices by ordering
distribution program will compete with the sale         them in quantity from a distributor or
of compost bins at retail stores and garden             manufacturer. They pass on the savings to
centers. Bin distribution programs generally            residents by reselling the bins at cost.
target a much larger audience than the relatively       Residents generally pay less for these bins
small percentage of interested gardeners and            than if they bought them at a store or
recyclers that go to stores and purchase bins at        through a mail-order catalog.
retail price.                                        • The manufacturer/distributor provides news
                                                        releases, ad copy, publicity ideas, and
How Much Will It Cost?                                  handles the ordering and shipping of the
Composting bin distribution programs have a             bins.
number of associated costs in addition to the cost   • Residents order the bins directly by phone or
of the bins. Cost will vary depending on the            mail.                                            Last Updated: 2/7/08
method of distribution selected, staff costs,                                                            By: M. Roberts-Pillon
•   The manufacturer/distributor sends compost             •     At educational workshops
    bins and informational booklets, imprinted             •     At compost demonstration sites
    with the community's name, directly to the             •     At distribution points over a period of
    purchaser.                                                   time at conveniently located facilities
                                                                 such as garden store, library
Planning a Compost Bin Distribution                        • Mail-in/phone-in ordering and home
Program                                                          delivery
Communities may want to start with a pilot
                                                           • Blanket door-to-door delivery
program, particularly if resources are limited.
                                                           • Compost bin day/raffle/promotion
• Consider forming an advisory committee
                                                           • Hauler-based distribution
    to solicit input and assistance from
                                                       Experience has shown that it is possible to over-
    municipal staff, educational support persons,
                                                       publicize this event. The result can be that people
    haulers, local retailers, Master Gardeners or
                                                       stand in line for a long time to find out there are
    Master Composters, and other civic groups.
                                                       no more bins available.
    Set some target goals and be sure to clearly
    define roles and responsibilities for each         Design a supportive educational
    participating entity.                              program.
• Learn more about specific community                  Research has repeatedly shown that a person is
    needs. Community survey is an excellent            more likely to use items given to them if they
    method for gaining this type of information.       also receive some education about the item. At a
• Select recipients of the bins. What criteria         minimum, informational booklets or pamphlets
    will be used to identify recipients?               should be provided with bins as they are sold or
    Neighborhoods, income level, users of yard         given away. Ideally an educational workshop or
    debris drop-offs or curbside collection?           a composting demonstration site is part of the bin
    Only participants who attend workshops? Or         distribution program.
    those without composting experience? How
    will criteria be assessed?
    What strategies will be used to allocate bins      Alternative Formats
    if interest in the program exceeds the                 Alternative formats of this document can be
    number of bins available?                              made available. Contact DEQ’s Office of
• Select bins to distribute                                Communications and Outreach, Portland, for
    • Cost and durability - can they last for              more information, at (503) 229-5696
          ten years?
    • Ease of use - for assembling, adding
          compostables, mixing and removing
    • Aesthetic appearance - select styles that
          blend well into the yard
    • Moisture retention and aeration
    • Recycled content - amount of recycled
          content, especially from post-consumer
    • Manufacturer: support literature,
          warranty, ethics, ability to supply
          regularly on-time, etc.
    • Capacity and potential for expansion -
          larger bins are better for wetter climates
    • Car or truck friendliness - for
          transportation to home sites
    • Pet, rodent and insect resistance.
    A good way to get lots of information about
    bins is to put out a request for proposals

How and where will bins be distributed?
Since this should be a wasteshed-wide program,
consider distributing the bins at strategic
locations throughout the wasteshed, and not all
on the same day.
     Possible options:

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