Fort Worth residents can sign up for the city's food scrap collection program for a $20 annual fee.

April 22, 2019

The city of Fort Worth wants to keep more food scraps out of the landfill.

That’s why the city launched a pilot residential composting program last week - the first of its kind for North Texas.

"I think this is a very exciting for Fort Worth residents to be first and to be leading the region on this," said Joao Pimentel, senior planner, who's overseeing the composting program, which is part of the city's 20-year solid waste comprehensive plan, enacted in 2017.

Pimentel understands that while anyone can start their own compost pile in their backyard, not everyone has room for one or wants to deal with the maintenance. Plus a backyard compost pile is not an option for apartment or condo dwellers. 

For an annual $20 fee, the city will take the food scraps off residents' hands.

In return, participants get a kitchen countertop pail, a five-gallon sealable bucket to collect their food waste and a refrigerator magnet detailing what can and cannot be composted. They can then drop off their buckets at one of 10 collection sites across the city.

So far over 200 people have signed up for the program in the first week.

"That's a very encouraging response so far," he said.

According to Pimentel about 30 percent of all residential waste currently going to the landfill could be composted. The city is diligently looking for ways to extend the life of the landfill, which has anywhere from 19-33 years left - the worst to best case scenario.

CompostPhoto by Julie Thibodeaux.

About 30 percent of all residential waste currently going to the landfill in Fort Worth could be composted.

The composting program not only saves precious landfill space, it also reduces the amount of methane greenhouse gas emissions released from decomposing food scraps at the landfill.

Plus, the food scraps can be made into a valuable gardening product, which provides rich nutrients for soil. The city of Fort Worth has hired Cowboy Compost to haul the material to an approved processor, which will then turn it into a commercial product.

Most foods can be composted including fruits and vegetables, bread and other baked goods, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, eggshells and cooked meats. Items not acceptable for composting include raw meats, gum, fats and oils, pet waste, Styrofoam, plastic packaging, and most nonedible materials.

See acceptable and unacceptable items

Fort Worth residents can register here. After your form and fee have been processed, you’ll be assigned a collection center near you. The $20 fee will be donated to Keep Fort Worth Beautiful for its ongoing programs and activities.

Pimentel said the pilot program is modeled after a program in Minneapolis and will run for a full year with the option to extend it. The long-term goal is to adopt a curbside composting program - a win-win for all residents, he said.

That's because the alternative - opening a new landfill - is a heap of trouble, literally. 

"It requires 100s of acres and it's politically onerous because no one wants a landfill in their backyard."

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