Developing Municipal Composting Programs

Posted September 21, 2023

Muni Compost

In response to much interest from Chester County municipalities about developing composting programs, the Chester County Solid Waste Authority and Chester County Planning Commission's Sustainability Division hosted a Community Composting Roundtable event on September 14, 2023.

Representatives from ten municipalities attended the event, where they had an opportunity to network with others and receive helpful resources such as contact information for relevant staff, funding sources, and information about local compost collection companies.

Since there are a wide variety of composting program types — from simply promoting backyard composting to facilitating a whole curbside food scraps collection program — the organizers invited presenters from a variety of municipalities that have gone about developing composting programs in a different way.

Joy Baxter of Haverford Township spoke about her township's program to subsidize and supply backyard compost bins, as well as composting education and resources. She noted that although backyard composting is the simplest and most sustainable option (as the material does not need to be transported), it is not for everyone.

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Patti Lynn, Chester County's Recycling Resource Manager, spoke about the potential to partner with a local business, church, or other organization to host a "food scraps drop-off location" that is regularly collected by a compost company.

Joy Baxter, along with Will Williams, Sustainability Director for West Chester Borough, and Corinne Badman, Assistant Borough Manager for Malvern Borough, each spoke about new curbside compost collection services through private companies in their municipalities. Malvern used ARPA funds to subsidize the cost to residents, and Haverford's programs were supported by a grant from the US Department of Agriculture.

Muni Compost 3Gabrielle Diakow of the City of Lancaster spoke about Lancaster's Compost Co-Op, a volunteer driven program where compost bins are placed in neighborhoods throughout the city, and "compost captains" for each site organize volunteer events as well as educational and social programming for members of the co-op.

The last option discussed at the roundtable focused on opportunities to use municipal-owned land for a compost drop-off location, where the municipal staff could either manage the compost operation or contract it out.

Overall, it was a great event with much engagement and feedback from those who attended! This program supported implementation of the Landscapes3 Live recommendation to implement the County's Solid Waste Plan; Chester County's Climate Action Plan to promote composting; as well as the Chester County Solid Waste Authority's Zero Waste Plan.

Interested municipalities that missed the program can reach out to for more information.