By SARAH KLEPNER
Red Bank could become the first New Jersey town to recycle food, according to proponent Councilman Mike DuPont.
At Wednesday night’s council meeting, DuPont announced that he is asking the borough Environmental Commission to comment on an informal proposal for a municipal composting program.
Some of his colleagues were amused. DuPont is known for green initiatives he proposed banning plastic bags in 2008, though the suggestion was never enacted into law.
“You’re really becoming Farmer Brown, huh?” asked Councilwoman Sharon Lee.
DuPont, the son of a dairy farmer and a gardener himself, learned about a voluntary pilot composting program in New York City from a gardening magazine, he said. New York is considering mandatory composting.
The benefits are economic as well as environmental, DuPont said.
“New York City has found they are reducing their capital expenses,” he said, citing an article from Investors Business Daily. “They are also reducing their tipping fees. ”
Red Bank is spending $360,000 this year on landfill fees, DuPont said afterward. Whereas New York has diverted 35 percent of its waste stream by composting, he estimates that Red Bank could divert at least 20 percent.
Council president Art Murphy joked about rodents, a comment which was taken seriously by Councilman Ed Zipprich, who asked that the Board of Health also comment on the information going to the Environmental Commission.
Wendy Weiner, “The Front Yard Farmer” who builds home composters as well as gardens, said, “It’s all about containment. In Boulder, they use big trash cans with hinged tops. If there’s bears in the area, they put a bungee cord on it. Otherwise, it’s no problem.”
Weiner emphasized the importance of only composting vegetable scraps, no oils or animal products of any kind.
In addition to Boulder, there are nearly 100 municipalities with curbside composting in the United States, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon, according to governing.com.
Asked about the reaction of some of his fellow council members, DuPont said, “People laugh. They laughed about the plastic bags, but sometimes thinking outside the box will create bold ideas that can be implemented to Red Bank’s advantage, fiscally and environmentally.”
The Environmental Commission is hosting a morning of workshops on composting at Red Bank Regional High School on July 11, noted councilwoman Kathy Horgan, liaison to the commission.