Keene Backyard Composting Pilot Program Gets a "Thumbs Up" from Volunteers

This summer, just twelve residents personally composted over one and a half tons (1,653 pounds) of food scraps from their homes as part of the Keene Backyard Compost Pilot Program. These volunteers were recipients of either a Green Cone Solar Digester or a Subpod to compost their food scraps. The City of Keene funded the purchase of the equipment, and the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) facilitated the setup of the program.

NRRA’s Member Services Representative, Heather Herring, was encouraged by the volunteers’ enthusiasm. “Some residents were trying this for the first time and had great questions for me along the way. I hope that the volunteers continue to help the City of Keene to decrease the weight of their waste and help the city save money in waste disposal fees. Overall, the program was given a thumbs up by the volunteers and their families.”

Residents were asked to use an app called Betterbin to track their waste diversion and confirm what material was able to be composted. 75% of the volunteers used the Betterbin app through the data collection season.  Food scraps can make up to 24.1% of municipal solid waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (2018). At the end of 18 weeks of tracking data, a survey revealed the following:

  • All volunteers agree that composting food scraps is good for the environment.
  • 90% of volunteers said that composting helps keep their regular trash from smelling bad, and more NH residents should compost food scraps.
  • 72% of volunteers agree that composting is easy and they are looking forward to using their compost when it has become soil.
  • When asked what has surprised them the most about composting, participant responses included:
    Volunteer Donny Tebaldi and Family with their Green Cone

“How quickly and efficiently the worms work to turn it into soil (using a Subpod).”

“The sealed Green Cone system worked well and maybe faster without 

having to turn over [the compost].”

“It is very easy and very little maintenance!”

  • Volunteers listed barriers to food scrap composting:

“Wet summer caused a wet compost that requires more grit to be added for better drainage.”

“Added too much food scraps at first.”

“It was my responsibility to empty the compost bucket.”

  • When asked what feedback they had for the City of Keene, volunteers offered:

“People just have to get used to doing it. I am a family of two that works a lot.”

“Provide easy-to-use compost bins or compost pickup, which some cities offer.”

“Financial incentives for composting might help.”

“Need a strong marketing campaign. I feel like this is something that is a win-win and can be used by many people, but the word needs to get out into the community.”

Winter is approaching, but did you know that you can compost through all seasons?