Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Milwaukee Ends Compost Program

As recently as February the city was planning to greatly expand it.

By - Aug 10th, 2020 02:34 pm
A compost bin (right) sits alongside Milwaukee trash and recycling bins. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A compost bin (right) sits alongside Milwaukee trash and recycling bins. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Department of Public Works is terminating its compost program just months after it unveiled a plan to expand the pilot program citywide.

Approximately 540 participants pay an extra monthly charge of $12.75 and are able to put their organic waste into a special 65-gallon container that a private contractor picks up. Since the program began in 2016, envisioned as a one-year pilot, over 680 tons of waste have been diverted from the landfill.

In February, DPW released a request for proposals (RFP) to expand the program beyond its current offering only for the East Side, Riverwest, Harambee, Walker’s Point and Bay View neighborhoods to a citywide offering. A waitlist exists for the pilot program currently.

But participants received an email in recent weeks announcing the program would be terminated at the end of September.

The city cited the absence of a single qualified bid in its message to current participants. “While this RFP scope of work may not have resulted in a proposal that fit all of the desired criteria to create an equitable, far-reaching program, the City remains committed to organics diversion and may consider other opportunities in the future to bring organics diversion services to residents,” wrote Samantha Longshore, DPW resource recovery program manager.

Compost Crusader has served as the city’s contractor on the pilot effort, picking up the organic waste and processing it into compost at Blue Ribbon Organics in Caledonia.

“We do not make this decision lightly, but feel if we are unable to offer a City program at this time, that it is important to support organics diversion and the local companies who are bolstering this industry,” wrote Longshore. A list of potential private operators was included, including Compost Crusader, Curby’s Compost, Waste Not, as were instructions on how to start with at-home composting.

“As the City of Milwaukee transitions from this pilot program, we are proud of the pilot having diverted over 700 tons of organic material from the landfill,” said the department in a statement. “While a City-wide program is not feasible it is important to support organics diversion. We’re encouraging subscribers and those on the wait list to connect with our recommended local providers, utilize at-home composting, and make use of our resources such as the annual spring compost bin sale and free composting classes in partnership with Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful.”

DPW provided an additional $1 per subscriber per month to Compost Crusader to support the program as an estimate of the city’s landfill savings.

The pilot was originally requested by then-Alderman Tony Zielinski and co-sponsored by Ald. Robert Bauman and Nik Kovac.

The RFP issued by DPW required prospective vendors to establish a permanent program by committing to operating it for a minimum of five years and providing a growth plan for eventual citywide service.

A 2018 report provides greater detail on the program.

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Categories: City Hall, Environment

2 thoughts on “City Hall: Milwaukee Ends Compost Program”

  1. LFillingham says:

    The email also included several attractive alternatives:
    Service Providers Available

    · Compost Crusader

    o Service in 32- or 64-gallon cart – online account and bill pay – monthly, quarterly, and annual billing options

    o If you wish to sign up for service directly with Compost Crusader, the current hauler for the pilot program, please enter your information and choose your service type using this online form. This will allow use of existing pilot account information and avoid some account startup costs.

    · Curby’s Compost

    o Service in 2- or 5-gallon bucket – online bill pay – monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual billing options

    o Complete Curby’s Compost sign up form or call (414) 445-4345 for questions.

    · Waste Not (currently servicing North Shore of Milwaukee)

    o Service in 5- or 10-gallon bucket – online bill pay – monthly and quarterly billing options.

    o Complete Waste Not’s sign up form or call (414) 659-7667 for questions

  2. steenwyr says:

    Sign up with Compost Crusader was easy to start and, if prepaid for a year, actually a bit cheaper than the pilot program was. It’s too bad the city couldn’t expand — guessing COVID-19 had a big impact — and it remains to be seen if the private companies will scale city-wide now on their own.

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