Monday December 17, 2012

DOVER -- Dover residents are being encouraged to participate in a program for composting organic waste that has been catching on around Windham County.

"The idea is to cut down on the garbage being put into the compactor," said Dover Transfer Station attendant Dave Smith. "It is expensive to empty."

Composting Organic Waste, or Project COW, was started by the Windham Solid Waste Management District seven years ago with trash hauling company, Triple T. Dumpsters are set up within the district, where organic waste can be dumped instead of putting it in with the rest of the garbage.

In the beginning, the program was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help divert organic waste from landfills.

"Once that funding was no longer available, WSWMD agreed to keep the program going at its own expense in about 2009," said Bob Spencer, executive director at WSWMD. "Since then, it’s been a self-sustaining program that the district promotes and has since expanded to other hauling companies."

The Dover Transfer Station is open nine hours a day and since June, there has been a two-yard dumpster for anything organic. The waste from that dumpster will then be picked up by Triple T for Project COW, which collects over 300 tons of organic waste a month from all over New England.

"We’re in the infancy. There’s 10-to-12 staunch composters each week," said Smith. "It’s not booming yet but that’s not to say it won’t.


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Triple T started by offering its hauling service in Western Massachusetts. It then began finding interested parties like the Windham Solid Waste Management District, which put up two dumpster locations in Brattleboro and named it Project COW. One is on Old Ferry Road and the other is on Fairground Road.

"It’s the next step in the evolution of recycling. It actually creates a product that stays here. A lot of other commodities go long distance," said Peter Gaskill, general manager of Triple T.

Businesses, schools, restaurants and supermarkets have taken advantage of the program. Residents are encouraged to take part in it as well.

"Three years ago, I set one up in Vernon, where I live," said Spencer of the Project COW dumpster. "We open it up every weekend. And then this summer, Dover started a program and Triple T is their hauler."

Smith has been encouraging people who use the station to bring their five-gallon buckets and lids down so that it can be used again.

He also gives out flyers about Project COW to people visiting the station.

"Whatever we can do to save our man-fill space is a good effort," Smith added. "Even if one person does it. Now that I know how much it costs, it’s a good way to cut down on waste."

New recycling legislation known as Act 148 drives the continued effort for the promoting of composting organic waste.

"Starting in 2014, any business that generates over 100 tons of organic waste a year will have to send their organic recycling to composting if a facility is available within 20 miles," said Spencer.

The goal of the law is that the entire state will have organic recycling by 2020.

"This is being driven by the fact that Vermont only has two landfills right now and one of them is going to close within a year, so Vermont will have only one landfill."

For information on Project COW and what items can be composted, visit windhamsolidwaste.org.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.