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Composting helps extend life of landfill

February 15, 2013
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - A group of people is working locally to help raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and composting, and is hoping to convince more people to do more of both.

Headed by coordinator Heidi Gould, Marquette Community Amending Recycling Efforts is hoping to increase recycling and composting in the area by educating people on programs that already exist.

"Recycling is one of the easiest things we can do to make a positive difference, to make a positive impact," Gould said.

And with Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority Executive Director Rick Aho citing 60 percent of the current waste stream as compostable and another 30 percent as recyclable, it seems composting and recycling is also one of the things that can make a huge difference on a local level.

Gould said the group's main focus is to raise awareness of the county's composting program, which is free and open for anyone residing in the county to use. She said it's one of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of waste being tossed into the county's landfill daily.

"The composting, right now, that is going to make the biggest impact," Gould said. "Recycling of the other stuff is just what people think of. That's the first thing that comes to mind plastic. It really blew my mind when (Aho said) 60 percent of it is compostable."

Gould said a trailer marked "organics" sits outside the city's service center on Baraga Avenue for county residents to drop off their compostable materials.

Gould is also working to coordinate data collection for the solid waste authority, so information can be gathered on how much money could be saved for each municipality in the county by recycling and composting more.

"When you're looking at the waste stream, somebody who wants to gather data weighs how much organics they have, weighs how much recyclables they have, weighs how much goes in the green bag, if you're in the city of Marquette," Aho said. "Then they know what they're producing per event and you add those all up and get trends. Your data is only as good as the length and the quality of the information you're putting together."

The data will help establish the value to each municipality of the solid waste authority's recycling program, which takes the money it makes from its recycling program and gives part of it back to each participating municipality. The compost is used in landscaping projects, and Aho said the he'd like to sell some of the material as well.

To sign up to participate in the compostable data collection, or to get more information on the group, email

For more information on the county's composting program, visit

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.



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