I commend County Executive Ken Ulman for his good intentions in reducing waste by recycling as much as possible. However, his plan to collect food scraps for composting (at least as described in the June 2 Columbia Flier) requires a serious rethink.
As I understand his program, households would receive (buy?) a green container they would set out weekly for collection, alongside their blue recycling container. Are we supposed to keep food trash in our homes for a week until recycling day? The bugs this would attract don't bear thinking about. Nor the stench. Leaving the container outside (whether during the week as food scraps collect or overnight awaiting collection) is an open invitation for bugs, rodents, racoons and who knows what other animals. Neither option is healthy for the community or residents.
I believe Howard County would be better served by instituting neighborhood composting sites, where we can dump our food trash as often as needed. Yes, some maintenance would be required, and probably regular clean-ups for those residents too lazy to make sure everything goes into the container, but it would still be healthier than leaving food trash lying around, either indoors or out.
Following are responses to questions and issues raised in this letter from county spokesman Kevin Enright:
"This program is/will be volunteer. Households will request a green container they would set out weekly for collection, alongside their blue recycling container. Currently, food scraps are mixed in with the trash and kept for weekly collection. Now, we are asking residents to separate food waste from trash and dispose of separately.
"Bugs can be minimized by keeping the food scraps as dry as possible. Paper towels, napkins and pizza boxes can be used to layer the containers and wick moisture away from the food scraps. Baking soda can also be sprinkled in the containers. Some residents may also freeze or refrigerate some food scraps until collection.
"Just as with your trash containers, cleanliness will help with these concerns. As far as animals getting into the scraps, if you have a problem (just like with your trash,) secure the lid. Food scraps of meat products, dairy, fish and oils will not be accepted. Thus, animals will be less likely to disturb your food-scrap cart.
"As with curbside recycling, the goal of curbside food scrap collection is to make it easy for people to participate, to reduce trash, protect the environment and reduce trash-disposal costs."