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Davis, California

Friday, May 17, 2024

Citywide business compost pilot shoots to scrap landfill waste

The city of Davis is looking to discard some of its landfill waste with a new composting pilot. Businesses within Davis have received invitations to apply for the Food Scrap Pilot Program.

Scheduled to begin on March 1, participating businesses will take plate scrapings, fruit and vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags and food-soiled paper that they produce, and set it aside for Davis Waste Removal (DWR) to bring to a compost facility.

Participants need to produce at least 130 gallons of food scraps each week and have access to a secure area to keep food scrap carts.

Those familiar with composting in Davis believe the program is a positive step toward reducing waste.

Alisa Kim is a workshop coordinator at the Davis People’s Free School and director of the ASUCD’s Project Compost. She works to collect pre-consumer compost from campus to bring to the Student Farm, where bins are dumped. The continuous compost pile is 10 feet wide, 60 feet long and reaches a height of four feet over the 10-week composting period.

“I think the main thing about compost is it needs to picked up regularly,” Kim said. “This pilot is achievable by the city as long as people become involved and are aware it exists.”

City of Davis Natural Resource Commissioner Mary Greaves feels the pilot will be a good diagnostic test of a more permanent and useful compost program.

According to Jennifer Gilbert, the city’s conservation coordinator, the carts used to collect food-waste will cost the same as a regular trash cart. In some instances, once food scraps are removed from the trash, businesses may be able to downsize their trash service, resulting in a net zero cost or cost savings.

Gilbert said participants of the city’s Green Business Partners will be given preference for the pilot, but applications will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Green partners include Caffé Italia, Dos Coyotes and several offices.

Shar Katz, who owns Caffé Italia with her husband Kevin, said when she initiated the pilot project three years ago she was told it would be too expensive.

“I knew it wouldn’t be difficult to do,” Katz said. “It just took time for the city to get on board and eventually all food establishments. We want to show others that from a business standpoint this is sustainable for the future.”

Katz said she originally got involved in composting efforts after the city started pushing for backyard composting.

“I started becoming more involved because I had babies,” Katz said. “It was first family fun for the kids, but I wanted to take it to another level. We had so much food waste from the restaurant, so we started looking around at other municipals around the state composting and realized it wasn’t too hard.”

Dos Coyotes was the first to sign up for the pilot, said owner and founder Scott Coyote.

“I’ve been trying to get something like this going for 15 years,” Coyote said. “A lot of things have changed with local composting projects and the city has a green program. We put pressure on waste removal companies, but it took a little longer to get over here.”

These businesses will be given 65-gallon carts to fill with the food scraps they generate. DWR and City Recycling Program staff will help pilot participants determine how many food-scrap carts they will need. DWR will empty the carts on Mondays and Fridays.

Coyote said there should not be rodent or odor problems because the containers will be hauled away before the compost is mixed with other scraps and since the bins are picked up so often.

The pilot will end on Dec. 31, after which the city and DWR will assess whether or not to continue the effort.

Interested businesses must complete an application by Feb. 7 at www.dwrco.com.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.


  1. What about on site composting? Systems are now available at a resonable cost. It would eliminate the need to have a continuous stream of trucks driving around transporting food waste. The savings in pick up fees would pay for most of the cost of the systems. Why burn fuel and add trck traffic to accomplish this?


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