Brown County launching food waste initiative

GREEN BAY – Brown County wants its residents to start recycling its organic food waste.

As an organic farmer, Doug Zimmerman sees plenty of benefit in recycling food waste.

“It’s quick fertilizer,” said Zimmerman. “It’s great for their produce and whatever their growing and getting it out of the landfill.”

Brown County is looking for 100 households that think like Zimmerman to kick off its food waste initiative.

“If there is a way for us to maintain or reduce the cost of curbside pickup and we’re able to find a way to repurpose the waste stream to a positive where its creating jobs and benefiting the environment, to me it’s a win-win,” said Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach.

Brown County estimates 26% of garbage taken to landfills is food waste. The county wants people to start setting the leftovers aside.

People are being encouraged to either compost in their backyard or bring it to one of two county drop off sites. The sites are not ready yet, but they will be at the Brown County Transfer Site on West Mason Street and the Brown County Recycling Transfer Site on Broadway.

“Whether its corn cobs, corn shucks, food scraps from a kitchen, paper products that might be soiled and not thrown in your recycling bin, anywhere from soiled pizza boxes,” said Chad Doverspike, operations manager for the county.

The challenge for Brown County right now is finding a way to convince people it’s worth their while to set the food waste aside instead of throwing it in the garbage.

“We’re trying to figure out what is that and what do we need to do to get residents and businesses to see that there is a net benefit in taking that extra step,” said Streckenbach.

One of the most simple benefits might be money. Just ask Zimmerman.

“Landfills are getting expensive,” said Zimmerman. “Land is getting scarcer. Less of each is better.”

Brown County officials will be at the Saturday farmer’s market in downtown Green Bay to recruit people for the start of the food waste initiative. It hopes to expand it to all residents in September.

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