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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So where are all the food scraps going to go?

Amid all the hoopla surrounding Portland's impending switch to bi-weekly garbage pickup and weekly curbside food scrap recycling, little has been said about where all the recycled food scraps, which the haulers currently take 120 miles east to the Arlington landfill, are going to go for composting. They're going to be thrown in with residents' yard debris, and so does that mean that the existing yard debris composters are going to handle them? Or are the scraps going to that new facility in the Cully neighborhood, to which restaurants will reportedly be sending their waste food?

And whose property will the compost be? There is going to be a huge amount of it. Is anybody set up to handle that much new compost? Who's going to make money on the deal, and how much, for how long?

So far, all we can find on these questions is a brief discussion on this page on the mayor's website:

The food scraps are being sent to Pacific Region Compost in Benton County and Nature’s Needs in North Plains. These are commercial composting facilities that use specialized processes to break down organic matter. Compost from these businesses is sold to landscapers and other agricultural users.

Love that passive voice. Sold by whom, and who gets the proceeds?

The Pacific Region compost facility is south of Monmouth and north of Corvallis. It is just south of the border of Polk and Benton Counties, about 60 miles south of Portland City Hall. The North Plains site is just off Highway 26 east of Glencoe Road, about 18 miles west of Portland City Hall, in Washington County.

The Pacific Region facility is run by Allied Waste Services of Corvallis, which is in turn owned by a huge national waste disposal outfit known as Republic Services, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix. Nature's Needs is operated by a San Francisco-based company known as Recology. An employee-owned company, its operations are apparently limited to California, Oregon, and Nevada.

There's a lot of money involved in the new Portland garbage regime. Out in the much-abused Lents neighborhood, a fight is in progress about using a Recology transfer station near I-205 for all the stinky scraps, some of which will have already been sitting for two weeks or more before they get deposited there. And as Willy Week recently reported, there's a boatload of money being thrown around against siting the food scrap transfer operation at that location, with the opposition hiding the source of a lot of the dough. Speculation is that the money's coming from a company related to Allied Waste, which runs the compost facility way down in Monmouth.

It gets crazier. County Commissioner Judy Shiprack is in on it somehow. Remember how she and Fireman Randy tried to sell the Paulson baseball stadium that would have paved over Lents Park? Good times. Now she's got ideas to offer about the propriety of using the transfer station for table slop (she's opposed). It's been suggested that her husband's lobbying firm is pulling that string. What a dynamic duo we have there. In the immortal words of Cary Grant (or was it Larry Storch?), Judy Judy Judy. It's funny that she'd butt in on a city matter while the city's taxpayers are eating her and her husband's worthless $1.8 million IOU.

Anyway, while Portlanders wonder whether they're going to go along with the City Hall arm-twisting or just order up a bigger garbage can, they shouldn't take their eyes off the ball. As usual, big money decisions are being made in back rooms, while a public debate about "green" this and that provides an excellent distraction.

Comments (22)

Actually Jack, Judy Judy Judy was Goober Pyle. Gomer's brother.

And when the wind blows just right, motorists on I-5 will get hit with a stench worthy of the paper mill outside of Albany. This stretch can become known as the "Stinky Turnpike" of Oregon!

Ya' gotta feel sorry for the folks that live down that way.

That's politics in PDX for you... one hand puts on the puppet show while the other hand reaches around into your back pocket.

Now Playing... How to Save the Planet and Feel Better About Yourself!

So the composter is paid to take our scraps away, and then paid again if we want to buy compost from them. Sweet gig. I want to start a waste-management company now. I'm sure I could get a PDC loan to start it up. If I don't make it, like Judy Shiprack, I won't even have to pay it back!

Debry isn't a word, is it?

There isn't a very good route from the freeway to that site in Benton county. Just rural highways. The truck traffic might get interesting.

Speling is not Sam's strong suet.

I find it ironic that Oregon Soil is a big defaulter on a PDC loan and also a composter of food scraps. Perhaps if someone is really "pursuing" this debtor, they can find a way to work out the "sale" of food scraps and compost into repayment to PDC. Not often you find a debtor who can service a new program while paying back what they took. Oh yes, and who really did the due diligence at PDC? Really checked those corporate and court records didn't you.

This whole plan stinks of something behind the scenes.

How many more of the Sam and Randy's ideas will we have to endure before they leave?

Doubt that they would have been voted in again, so too bad they aren't spending time on campaigning instead of escalating more "bad dumps" on us!

Imagine the bin after a week of being full of food scraps.

Now, imagine it after a few months of use for food scraps.

Awesome. A process designed by a committee. Of the clueless.

Meanwhile, people who *will* compost are already doing it, using existing closed, stationary compost bins.

But hey--it's another bullet point on the busy work list of Adams' "accomplishments" he can recite when he leaves office. And you'd better believe the windbag will talk long-windedly about everything he claims to have done when his term is over.

A year after that, nobody will remember him, except as the butt of jokes.

Here's my real problem: once November gets here, I'll have TWO kids in diapers at my house. So I'm supposed to have nasty, rotting diapers sit in my garbage bin for two weeks at a time? And I can't use plastic bags from the grocery store to tie them up (and thus lessen the stench) because those are banned now!

Every time I smell a rotting, nasty diaper from now on I'm going to say "It smells like Adams in here!"

You're not supposed to be raising children in Portland. It's meant to be challenging enough to run you out of town.

I thought Metro ran the garbage service and recycling around here. Does Sam trump Metro now?

On Bob Miller's radio show this a.m., Adams said the collection/recycling franchisee will keep all the profits. The city gets none of the increased revenue, whether from sales of compost or from increased hauling fees.

But it did get to tell you how to live, which is like Viagra for the Sam Rand twins.

Interesting point.
Why does the city make rules on this when Metro takes care of garbage and recycling?

Is Sam angling to get on with Metro? Suppose he can use these projects for his resume for his "next" position.

I heard the Portland Riots will begin at the upcoming garbage hearings at City Hall. Makes sense.

In my post just above, I met to sign off with "Makes scents" and not "Makes sense".

Plus, the post immediately above about Cascade Policy Institute describes well the so-called "public input" discourse in these parts. Diversity in discourse isn't welcome, it is demeaned.

Some good letters by John Charles.
Will he get an apology?

I heard a suggestion that you roll up a dirty diaper in newspaper..
How about a few people try that.
And then bring the results to the next city council hearing on the matter...

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