City of Tucson expands is composting program

Published: May. 4, 2015 at 3:00 PM MST|Updated: May. 18, 2015 at 3:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It is International Compost Awareness Week and the City of Tucson is expanding its pilot composting program.

What began as a pilot program will now expand to a regular service that will involve more grocery stores, restaurants, food service businesses and other commercial customers in Tucson, according to a recent release.

More than 80 percent of what goes into Tucson's landfills is compostable or recyclable, according to Tucson's Environmental Services Department, this also means that 50 percent of food that is thrown out is also compostable.

The pilot program began in June 2014, with the University of Arizona and 16 businesses that include grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.

"This innovative composting program has been an overwhelming success," said Cristina Polsgrove, public information officer for the City of Tucson's Environmental Services Department, in the recent release. "Thanks to our pilot partners – the Tohono O'odham Nation, the University of Arizona, and a variety of food businesses in Tucson, we will now be able to expand our composting opportunities to more businesses throughout the City."

UAs Compost Cats have helped increase this pilot program, by collecting, delivering and processing food and green wastes from those 16 businesses.  Also important to the program is the Tohono O'odham's San Xavier Co-op Farm, by providing the space and farm equipment to prepare the compost for sale.

Refined compost is then sold at local farmer's markets, as well as used by both the Tohono O'odham Nation and Tucson Parks and Recreation Department.

"The success, interest and excitement surrounding the pilot program prompted the City to make the program permanent, and expand its composting services to a wider commercial customer base," said Polsgrove. "We're now able to standardize a regular fee schedule, and extend compost collection services to customers who are not already served by the City."

Any businesses interested in compost collection service is invited to call (520)791-3171 to speak with a commercial service representative from the City's Environmental Services Department.

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