Compost education leader envisions city-wide composting for Atlanta

Members of Food Well Alliance’s latest Working Table gathered for another engaging meeting as they continue to work to find solutions to scale community-based composting in Metro Atlanta.

Leaders from organizations including Compostwheels, Georgia Recycling Coalition, Truly Living Well and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, collaborated to identify challenges concerning the local community-based composting ecosystem during the February 3 meeting.

The group prioritized those challenges under four key segments within the compost ecosystem: food residuals, haulers, compost producers and end users.

Some of the key challenges members identified for food residuals, haulers and compost producers included contamination, financial viability, land access and regulatory uncertainty.

For Working Table member Corinne Coe, who is Co-founder and Director of Terra Nova Compost, the biggest challenge for scaling community-based composting in Atlanta is land access.

“I really do think it's about land access and regulation,” Corinne said. “[The facilitator] said today that land access is maybe overshadowed by regulatory issues, but I’m not sure if that’s actually the case.”

During the convening, members acknowledged that community-based composting operations are often located on urban farms and community gardens, but noted they also can be stand-alone operations on vacant lots within communities.

They also acknowledged that community-based operations engage area residents and are usually limited by state regulations.

Corinne said her ideal vision for community-based composting in Atlanta is “that everybody does it.”

“They do it in their backyards, and they do it in community gardens, and they do it at schools and we do it on a large scale,” she said.

“I said this at the U.S. Composting Council Conference on a panel last week, I think that there’s absolutely room for backyard composting, community composting and large-scale composting.”

She continued: “Not only is there space for it, but it’s critical that we do all of those things. I mean there’s plenty of organic material out there, so there’s absolutely no reason that we can’t all do it and that we shouldn’t all do it.”

To learn more about the Community-Based Composting Working Table, click here.