As he does pretty much every year, City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) has formally asked the city to begin a pilot program to collect people's discarded coffee grounds and other foods to turn into compost. But this year is different, because the costs of dealing with recyclable materials is going through the roof, O'Malley says.
The council agreed this week, as it has the five other times since 2010 that O'Malley has proposed the idea, to have a committee look at creating a way for residents to put their slops at the curb for pickup and delivery to a city facility that would turn the stuff into rich organic material suitable for use in city parks - or by residents with gardens. A private company in Jamaica Plain, Bootstrap Compost has run curbside pickup since 2011.
O'Malley said that Cambridge reduced its trash tonnage by 8% just in the first year of a pilot composting program. And if nothing else, O'Malley said, even conservatives should like the idea because it has the potential to save the city fairly sizeable amounts of money, by keeping the stuff out of the garbage for which the city now pays roughly $86 a ton to dispose of in landfills.
He added that although Mayor Walsh remains committed to the city's recycling program, curbside composting would help ease the pain of rapidly escalating recycling costs. Recycling, which once earned the city about $5 a ton now costs it at least as much if not more as trash disposal.
Under O'Malley's proposal, the city would pick a neighborhood to serve as the pilot area for collection of kitchen wastes, which would go to a city "anaerobic digester" for bacteria to munch and turn into compost.
Thinking big, O'Malley said that eventually the idea could turn into a profit center for the city, if it built an anaerobic digester large enough to handle not just Boston's organic waste but that of surrounding towns.
Also this week, the council approved, by a 9-3 vote, a resolution, by Councilor Michelle Wu (at large), to support national efforts for a Green New Deal to pour money into technologies to try to reduce climate change and economic inequalities.
"The climate crisis is here now, we see it in Boston every year," she said. Councilor Kim Janey (Roxbury) agreed. "We are destroying our planet," she said. "All the other things we're talking about, affordable housing, education, supporting workers, none of this matters if we destroy our planet."
Councilors Althea Garrison (at large), Frank Baker (Dorchester) and Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton) voted against the resolution.
Garrison cited an ad she heard on the radio. "Stop the green, cut the prescription drugs for elderly and that is the reason I cannot support this particular legislation." She did not elaborate. Baker and Ciommo did not explain their votes.