A neighbor asks: “Why do we compost?” “Where does it go?” As you know, here in Alameda we have great big green bins that we can fill with anything organic—apple peels, rotten zucchinis, used tissues, chicken bones, and, as just confirmed by Teresa Montgomery from Alameda County Industries, even our pizza boxes.
Montgomery reports that everything Alamedans put in their green bins goes to Newby Island in San Jose, where it’s turned into mulch and compost by a company ACI subcontracts with, Allied Industries. “They have what they call windrows, and the waste is left out in the elements and turned by equipment there until it breaks down,” says Montgomery. It is then sold in large quantities to landscaping and agricultural companies.
Her big plea to residents: leave the plastic bags — or anything that looks like a plastic bag — out of the green bin (it’s too hard for sorters to tell if a plastic-looking bag might biodegrade, like some of the new ones made of corn starch, and what won’t). “They have a flat policy,” says Montgomery. “Anything that looks like plastic they don’t want it.”
And one more tidbit: The contents of your blue bin go to San Leandro, where they’re separated–paper, plastic, glass–and shipped off to buyers. We can put most anything in our blue bins. “The one exception,” says Montgomery, “is plastic bags that are #2 or #4. You can take them back to most supermarkets, and they can recycle them there.”
Here’s the e ACI scoop on just exactly what you can put in each of your bins.