A new TDEC grant is seeking to divert food waste from the Putnam County landfill.
Lisa Luck is the education manager for the Putnam County Solid Waste Department and solid waste planner for the Upper Cumberland Development District.
She said the grant allows the county to pick up food waste from businesses and institutions.
“The State of Tennessee has wanted to encourage all the counties to divert waste from the landfill,” Luck said. “It’s mandated that each county has to divert 25-percent or more from their landfills, so they have offered this organics grant.”
Luck said participating businesses and institutions will be provided a free composting container that will be picked up by the county. Putnam County residents can also get involved with the program as well.
Luck said the residents participating in the program will be able to compost at their own homes and help keep the waste from going into the landfill.
“If you have a lot of food waste in your house, to collect it for a few days puts more money and time into managing that waste,” Luck said. “If you can compost it in your own yard, it saves a lot of money and you’re just turning it into dirt at your own home.”
If the program is successful, the county hopes to provide food collection containers at drop off sites for the residents who do not want to compost at their homes.
The waste collected by the county will be taken to a nearby composting site and used for different county projects.
“We are going to use it for beautification projects and other projects around the county,” Luck said. “The hope is that we will have enough to sell it, maybe through the Co-Op or gardening places. That would bring revenue into solid waste so we could do more.”
Luck said when food waste enters the landfill it creates methane gas, which is the third leading causes of methane emissions. When composted, the food waste turns into humus and can be used on flower or garden beds.
Businesses and institutions can contact Lisa Luck to get signed up for the program and residents can receive their free composting container by attending a waste management class.
“It’s about an hour and a half long and it teaches you all about waste management so that you have an understanding about the importance of composting,” Luck said.
Food waste training is available by appointment. Employees will be trained to either separate food waste for composting onsite or for collecting waste for the county to compost.