Some weeks ago, I talked here about the three-part program Brunswick has implemented for handing organic wastes. One of those is the large totes that Agri-Cycle has placed next to the leaf drop on Industry Road, which have seen an impressive amount of activity since they were installed.

In recent weeks, that activity has dropped off slightly, possibly because folks don’t get reminded of the existence of the totes when they are not going down there for other reasons. If you don’t have a backyard composter of your own, we urge you to remember the totes, and take your organic waste to them.

The one issue people find with using this option is what we like to call the “Ick” factor. Most of us don’t generate a great deal of organics, but we don’t want to keep the garbage around for two or three weeks, or until we have a pailful to take to the recycle bins on Industry Rd. To deal with that, we recommend that you keep the scraps in a sealed container in the freezer until it’s time to dump the container. Freezing will keep the waste from rotting and smelling bad, and it can certainly be dumped into the totes while still frozen.

Backyard composting

The obvious alternative to the totes is backyard composting. People think incorrectly that you can’t compost in the winter. In fact, you just need to put the composter in a sunny spot in the yard. I’ve found with mine that the material decomposes more slowly in cold weather, as I would expect, and the bin does fill up a bit. Then, in early May, things start to cook again, and you can almost stand there and watch the level going down in the bin. By late June or so, you’re ready to harvest the compost.

Animal products

This is the term for skin, bones, fat cut from beef, or other large pieces of meat. A backyard composter will not usually generate enough heat to compost these materials. Instead, they will simply rot, which will smell bad and attract wild animals that will try to open or dump the composter. Those heavier materials should be either put into the Agri-Cycle totes, or we should have a curbside pickup service to take them away for proper composting or anaerobic digestion (the third option on our three part approach to organics recycling).

There are instructions available on the Internet — Cornell University has some good ones — for creating a backyard composting operation that will generate the higher temperatures achieved by the commercial operators, but those do take a bit of work and attention to be effective. Most of us will do much better to use one of the other ways to deal with these products.

The Recycle Bin is a weekly column on what to recycle, what not to recycle, and why, in Brunswick. The public is encouraged to submit questions by email to [email protected]. Harry Hopcroft is a member of the Brunswick Recycling and Sustainability Committee.

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