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Composting in LA isn’t as easy as it sounds

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Kenny Derieg manages LA Compost gardens across West LA. Photo by Caleigh Wells.

The roughly 150 residents who have signed up to bring compost to this garden dump their food scraps into bin number one. Once that fills, volunteers transfer all 1,200 pounds of rotting food into bin number two.

By Steve Chiotakis
Jan. 15, 2020


To get involved, simply sign up on Compost LA’s website, enter a zip code, and they’ll email information for the nearest hub that’s accepting food scraps from new residents.

However, only eight out of LA Compost’s 32 hubs are taking new people. The rest are closed to the public or at capacity. For West LA residents, the closest option is in downtown.

Dereig says it’s been a challenge to keep up with growing demand: “Unfortunately there are times when the bin reaches capacity, and unfortunately we have to turn some folks away.”

Demand is high because a lot of cities in LA County don’t accept compost. Most of them have green bins, but the rules about what goes in those bins changes across city borders.

For example, Burbank will only accept stuff from your backyard, like dead leaves, branches and grass trimmings. Los Angeles will accept whole foods, like the moldy orange you never got around to eating, but not the orange peels.

It’s much more complicated than in Northern and Central California. Alameda, for example, accepts compost countywide.

“LA County is more densely populated, and so the locations and farms that use the compost generated from our organic waste are farther out. It costs more to ship it to that location,” says Coby Skye, who oversees the environmental program at LA Public Works.

And building a composting facility in LA County comes with its own challenges.

Read the complete article here.


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