Monmouth County Serves As A Composting Model

The first "Home-Works" pilot composting program in the nation has registered a success at diverting waste in a New Jersey borough.

Home-Works is a community-based composting program developed by Organic Recycling Inc., Tappan, N.Y., that provides composters, education and support to its participants.

Monmouth County, N.J., agreed to adopt the pilot, which included single-family homes, multi-family units and the institutional, commercial and industrial sector (IC&I).

The county engag-ed in an extensive sel-ection process to identify a host community that was willing to see the project through from its early planning stages to its completion.

The Borough of Brielle, located about sixty miles south of New York City, was chosen due to its:

* excellent recycling record and history of other waste reduction initiatives;

* demographics which closely fit thecounty profile, making the results easily transferable; and

* strong support of both staff and elected officials.

A neighborhood of 454 single- and 56 multi-family dwellings, comprising one garbage route, was selected for the pilot, and 77 percent of the single-family households contacted agreed to participate. Nine businesses and an elementary school also were in-cluded.

The project ran from March 1 to October 31, 1996. Waste audits were conducted before the compost bins' distribution to establish a baseline for the waste tonnage and composition. More than 25 percent of the residential household waste was determined to be readily compostable.

"Compost doctors" installed compost bins and follow ups were conducted. In addition, three newsletters were mailed and a hotline was established.

The IC&I participants' waste was audited individually, with organic content registering as high as 80 percent. The businesses separated their compostable organics into rolled Schaefer carts of varying sizes and quantities, depending on need. During twice-weekly collection, full carts were switched out with empty ones, and the material was delivered to a private composting facility.

At the school, students separated the compostable organics from their lunch waste. They held an assembly and an art contest highlighting composting's benefits.

As a result, the children took the message home, and the borough re-sponded by subsidizing compost bins to families outside of the pilot area.

By conservative figures, more than 25 percent of the households in the borough currently are composting, and the community has lowered its disposal costs.

In July, waste audits were conducted again to monitor progress, identify areas needing attention and reconcile seasonal variations.

Final audits, which concluded the project in late October, showed a total waste reduction of 45 percent, with decreases in readily compostable organics in varying percentages including:

* 33 percent among single-family homes;

* 26 percent in condos; and

* 81 percent in the IC&I organics.

Due to Brielle's success, the county is ready to provide technical support to its fifty-three municipalities that are interested in implementing home composting as an effective waste diversion strategy.