Lexington, Kentucky, Alexandria, Virginia, and Melissa, Texas, all of which have populations under 350,000, announced municipal yard waste or food-scrap suspensions. Still, these sorts of decisions are “sporadic,” according to Frank Franciosi, executive director of the US Composting Council (USCC), and “depend on the locale. Some of it is being driven by fear, some is driven by not having enough workers to [separately] collect organic waste and trash.”

Where Food Scrap Collections Continue

In places like Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Denver, and Seattle (all with populations over 620,000), food scrap collections continue, as do food scrap drop-offs where they’re normally offered, according to these cities’ websites. In Washington, D.C., composting is still considered an “essential service when it comes to waste management,” says Jeremy Brosowsky, whose company, Agricity, collects scraps from area farmers’ markets. He makes sure to conform to market safety protocols, with his team wearing masks and gloves; shared items have also been removed from the display table and collection bins are spaced for physical distancing.

Similarly, in King County, Washington, safety protocols have been enhanced at waste transfer stations, where residents can drop off yard trimmings. Market development program manager Andy Smith says that what’s mostly been needed is “a staggered entry system to limit the number of people at the station at one time.” Curbside pickup of food scraps continues across the county as well.

In Austin, Texas, curbside collection of organics has actually increased by 12 percent over the same period last year. To ensure the health of its waste haulers, the city has instituted a host of pandemic-related safety measures: temperature checks; outdoor hand-washing stations; and the provision of hand sanitizer, masks and gloves, and spray bottles of disinfectant.

Both Brattleboro, Vermont and Lake County, Illinois, report not only that residential organics collection continues, they’re also fielding an uptick in requests to purchase compost, possibly due to a spiking interest in home gardening.

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