| Payton North
EAST LONGMEADOW – The East Longmeadow Health Department is doing its part to give residents the opportunity to be eco-friendly.
Recycling coordinator Elizabeth Bone explained to Reminder Publishing that the state gives towns health departments’ grant money, and from there, the town has the ability to purchase in bulk compost bins for residents. Bone noted that they are allowed to use the grant money for initiatives such as this so long as they charge residents $25 or less.
“We believe composting is very important to reduce our waste stream because people throw away – 25 percent of your waste stream is food – so anything we can do to reduce. We do pay $76 dollars a ton [for waste], so to reduce our cost for the town is great,” Bone stated.
The town has been purchasing compost bins for residents to subsequently buy off the town for a few years now. Last year, the Health Department sold 33 compost bins. Bone explained that she did a composting demonstration at the library and plans to host one again when the weather turns warmer.
The state of Massachusetts has a “master solid waste plan” that they’re “rolling out for 2020 to 2050,” Bone explained. She further noted that the state is looking to reduce waste in the Commonwealth.
“The state wants to reduce waste by 2050 by 90 percent – one of the actions they’re going to roll out is to reduce the threshold for food waste by a half a ton or more,” she said. “Right now, it’s a ton of food a week.”
Bone is referencing the current threshold for food waste in the state, which is currently one ton per week, to be reduced to a half a ton per week for institutions such as supermarkets, restaurants, universities, assisted living facilities, hospitals and schools. In a guide produced by Recycling Works Massachusetts, it shows that, for example, an assisted living facility that has more than 80 beds would produce more than a half a ton of food per week. “In East Longmeadow, a few of our facilities do,” produce more than a half a ton of food per week, Bone said. As of 2022, the state is looking to achieve this goal.
Bone noted that within the East Longmeadow Public School District, classrooms have worked with compost bins in the past to teach students, as well as to reduce their overall waste. A goal of Bone’s is to have composting at all East Longmeadow schools.
“At Meadowbrook last year or the year before I was working with a teacher and I gave them a compost bin. They were doing things with kids, they had a garden,” she shared. “My goal would be to have composting at all the schools, and it doesn’t have to be the backyard composting where they keep it on site. It could be, they do collect food waste, and it’s picked up by a third party and sent somewhere.”
The East Longmeadow Health Department has composting bins for sale at the Town Hall for $25. To purchase them, residents can contact the Health Department at 525-5400 ext. 1103. For those interested in learning more about composting before purchasing a bin, in 2018, Bone created a video on composting with ELCAT which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqLx_SUjEqc&t=35s