People in PV neighborhood turning food waste into compost - KCTV5

People in Prairie Village neighborhood turning food waste into compost

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Getting your flowers and veggie gardens growing big could be a little easier because of a Prairie Village, KS, neighborhood, and it's all because of how residents are throwing away garbage so it can be reused.

It goes beyond recycling plastics and glass. Instead of a person tossing their food leftovers in the usual garbage bin that would end up in a landfill, people living in Normandy Square are separating out their food scraps.

A sustainability group in Johnson County brainstormed the idea that could be a model throughout the metro.

For the past three weeks, Kathie Lumbard has been rethinking how she dumps her food scraps.

"I have this other food that I'd usually throw in the trash or garbage disposal," she said.

She tries to be eco-friendly and now has a new container that sits between her garbage, recycling bin and newspaper box.

Lumbard isn't the only one. About 73 homes in the Normandy Square Homes Association in Prairie Village have the 13-gallon green receptacles where they can dump everything from fruit and veggie scraps to coffee grinds and egg shells. The bins don't take plastic, Styrofoam, metal or glass.

The receptacles are part of a pilot project that started last fall. Deffenbaugh Industries collects the food scraps in the bins along with yard waste every Tuesday and takes them to the Johnson County landfill.

"That's stuff that's going in the landfill anyways so it might as well have a beneficial reuse," said Tom Coffman, senior vice president of Deffenbaugh Industries.

The Johnson County landfill includes a 27-acre facility where yard waste and food waste are combined to make compost. Food waste makes a higher quality compost material.

Last month, Johnson County and Prairie Village bought the green bins for people to use in their homes for food waste.

"Previously they just put it in their yard waste bags, which is fine, but they get nasty and messy and wet sometimes, so this works better," Coffman said.

The company hopes to bring the idea to other neighborhoods in the area.

"We'll see what kind of appetite people have for separating food waste and we'll see how it works," Coffman said. "Hopefully we can demonstrate that we can get the proper balance of food waste and yard waste together and people have an interest in separating it out."

As for Lumbard, she feels good knowing she's doing her part.

"We have this one world and we want to take care of it and we have a little girl and we want it to be healthy for her when she gets older," she said.

Many may wonder how the bins keep rodents out. The answer is that they are fitted with a lock. Most people line the bins with paper bags to help avoid odors.

Anyone can pick up the compost at the Johnson County landfill - anyone interested in using it can call Deffenbaugh at 800-631-3301 to arrange a time to pick it up for free.

Back in April 2012, KCTV5 covered Shawnee Mission schools participating in a similar program. Now 11 schools in the Shawnee Mission School District have adopted the program, and so far, the schools have diverted a combined 85 tons of material from the landfill.

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