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Beaverton preps to launch new food-composting program

Metro grant will fund temporary employee to coordinate startup

The Beaverton City Council approved on Tuesday night an intergovernmental agreement with Metro regional government to fund an organic waste collection program for the city's commercial businesses, such as restaurants and supermarkets.

The agreement includes a $60,000 grant from Metro to develop a commercial organic food scrap retrieval program. The grant would fund a three-fourths time coordinator for about 11 months who is dedicated to planning and implementing a pilot program with city staff and garbage haulers.

If successful as a startup, the city of Beaverton's Recycle at Work staff would take over the ongoing operation of the program, coordinating with franchised haulers.

The position would begin in January 2012, with $32,900 dedicated for the current fiscal year and $27,100 available from July to November of next year.

An earlier grant of $25,000 provided funding to purchase containers for organic waste collection and produce education and outreach materials. The program was not initiated because the compost processing facility wasn't able to handle the additional level of organic waste the city would likely generate.

After Portland became the first city in the region to launch a commercial food waste collection system, Metro identified Beaverton and Gresham as the next major expansion areas for a similar program. More than 700 Portland businesses have voluntarily participated in that city's program, with 17,000 tons of food scraps being composted each year, according to figures Metro provided.

Portland launched a residential organic collection program in recent weeks. Residents were given a plastic bin to place their food scraps and organic materials, which they can dump in yard debris roll carts for weekly collection. Collection of landfill garbage was reduced from weekly to once every two weeks.

Beaverton City Councilor Marc San Soucie said the success of the city's commercial food composting program will determine the future of a residential program in Beaverton.

'The intent is to begin with commercial because that's where the largest quantities are,' he said on Wednesday. 'My personal opinion is, we need to see how effective this program is before we try to aggressively roll out a residential program. What that timing is, I don't know.'

The success of Portland's new residential program will also likely influence Beaverton's residential composting path.

'We'd like to do even better than Portland, if we can,' he said. 'This is a great opportunity to take material out of the landfill stream and put it into a (composting) program. First, we'll see if we're successful on the commercial side.'