Transfer station starting food scrap compost program

The Town of Athol Transfer and Recycling Station on Route 32 in Athol.

The Town of Athol Transfer and Recycling Station on Route 32 in Athol. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Report

Published: 05-14-2024 2:40 PM

ATHOL – Starting in the next few weeks, Athol Transfer Station will be collecting and diverting food scraps for composting to add to waste collection efforts. Food scrap collection is open during normal transfer station operating hours. This program is free of charge, but a residential access permit is required.

Composting makes a valuable soil amendment from food scraps, saves money, slows climate change, and reduces trash. Households that separate their food scraps for composting can potentially reduce their trash volume and save money on required town trash bags or stickers.

Athol Transfer Station will have three dedicated bins for the collection of separated food scraps. The containers will be emptied weekly, and the contents will be brought to a commercial compost facility in Orange for composting. Commercial composting facilities can compost meat, bones, cheese, paper products, and other materials that are not appropriate for home compost bins or piles.

This compost program accepts many materials that are otherwise destined for the trash. All solid food scraps are acceptable, including meat, bones, poultry, fish, cheese, dairy (no liquids), eggs, eggshells, shellfish, fruits, peels, vegetables, bread, grains, tea bags, coffee grounds and paper filters.

Non-recyclable paper is also accepted: napkins and paper towels, paper egg cartons, paper to-go containers (BPI-certified only; bpiworld.org), and pizza boxes with stuck-on food. (Pizza boxes that are empty and free of food should go in paper recycling.)

It is very important to keep the following items out of the compost container: liquids, pet wastes, cat litter, diapers, plastic bags, wrappers or cling wrap, polystyrene foam, conventional plastic, metal, foil, glass, or non-biodegradable items. Yard waste, leaves and brush are not accepted as food compost, but are still accepted at the Athol Transfer Station.

To collect compostable items at home, residents can use a compost pail, five-gallon bucket or any other closed container. Athol Transfer Station sells two-gallon “Sure-Close” compost collection pails for $7. To make clean up easier, residents can line pails with newspaper, a paper bag, or a compostable BioBag, which are available online or at the local co-op. Compostable plastic bags and similar materials must be BPI-certified. For more information, see bpiworld.org

If compostable scraps are transported to the transfer station in a traditional plastic bag, the bag must be emptied into the compost container and then the plastic bag must go in the trash.

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Residents are also encouraged to compost at home. Athol Transfer Station sells Orbis Earth Machine home compost bins to residents for $55, and Sure-Close kitchen scrap buckets for $7. Visit the Athol Transfer Station to make a purchase. Cash, checks, and cards accepted.

Questions? Calll the Athol Transfer Station at 978-249-9551 or email the North Central Regional Solid Waste Cooperative at RecycleMass@gmail.com.

The Athol Transfer Station is located at 1010 West Royalston Road (Route 32) Athol. Hours of operation are Tuesday, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., Wednesday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.