A lot of Newport residents showed up Tuesday night at City Council to mostly say that no composting program is perfect but that the one Thompson Sanitary is offering (and that the city council must accept or reject), looks pretty good to them. But there were a few who said they want to keep composting their own garbage and not pay $6.59 more on their monthly trash bill just so somebody can make money on their food and yard waste at a composting operation in the valley.
Thompson had another take – that separating out food and yard waste will eventually become the norm in Oregon as it is in other states. Company officials told the city council that food and yard waste do not belong in an expensive landfill and that the Coffin Butte landfill north of Albany will fill up some day at great cost to everyone. But they said it’ll be decades later if communities send less to the landfill and more to the composting operations in the valley.
Some residents did complain that food waste can stink pretty badly after a few days, attracting bears, raccoons and neighbor dogs – especially if the cans are left outside. Thompson representatives said the lids on the compost cans are rather tight and that if there are problems with animals or high winds, using simple bungie cords should keep the cart intact. As for food waste odors that waft out of the can after several days, Thompson representatives said people are already doing that now in a mixed cart situation with once a week pickup. But they said Thompson offers a special swap-out program if a resident doesn’t want to wash out carts themselves.
Thompson reiterated their earlier contention that when yard and food waste are removed from regular household trash, their regular trash will be a lot less which means they can get by with a smaller cart and fewer pickups a month. The savings can more than erase the $6.59 charge for compostables.
Some residents said they like the compostable program because they know that recycling is good for the Earth and for healthier gardens. Some also admitted they just don’t have the time to do the composting themselves and that they feel good that others can do it for them.
The council listened intently to citizens for the better part of an hour and reviewed a number of letters mailed by residents who chose not to attend the council meeting. Some said they want to keep their trash pickup just the way it is – that they can’t afford the extra charge for the compostables. Thompson officials said state law prohibits such an arrangement in that Oregon has a “universal participation” factor written into the law that customers can’t pick and choose what garbage companies collect. But one councilor mentioned that there may be some cities or counties that do allow customers to “opt out” of certain trash programs – in addition to refusing garbage service entirely if they haul their own.
The council said they will take more written comments through next Tuesday (Feb. 25), after which they’ll bring up the matter at a future meeting and decide whether Newport residents will be given the chance to go even greener upon the Earth and at what price.