La Crosse community leaders consider curbside compost pickup

Some community leaders in La Crosse are considering ways to bring composting to your curbside. While there are a few places in the city where people can drop off food scraps for composting, supporters say this will make it easier.

Joshua Larson has been talking to other people in the area about residential composting.

“The scale that we’re doing at home, you can’t really do a whole lot with in the winter,” said Larson, one of the meeting’s organizers.

Without enough heat and few places to take food scrap collection bins around town, it’s hard to compost year round. But Larson and other community leaders are looking to change that.

“It would be preferably something that was done in coordination with waste pickup that’s already going on,” Larson said.

They’re discussing how they could make compost collection city wide during a meeting at Western Technical College Wednesday night. Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, which is helping to host the event, uses worms to break down more than 20,000 pounds of food waste from four area cafeterias.

“All of our food waste that we currently take at our vermicomposting center what’s kind of considered pre-waste. It’s sort of the kitchen waste,” said Pam Hartwell, executive director of the center.

But they’re not able to take in residential waste. Ideally, the compost collection could take more kinds of organic scraps and deliver them to the dump.

“Unlike our vermicomposting where our worms need a really [warm], happy home, windrow compositing is something that can be done on a large industrial site.”

The city already does this using leaf material from its leaf collection days. Plant material is laid out into rows where it can degrade over time.

As this moves forward, she says the city and county could have a few options about how the project could take form– but that’s a few steps away.

“Really the trick is getting it from the curbside to a facility almost more than actually figuring out that facility,” Hartwell said.

These organizers hope to create this framework or ideas for a pilot plan with residents during this first meeting.

“The more awareness and people you get involved with things like that, the faster the city and municipalities can get on board and see that it’s something the people really want,” Larson said.