Hopkinton joins Bow and New London in exploring compost options

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 06-27-2023 4:30 PM

Following the lead of Bow and New London, Hopkinton is exploring alternatives to sending food waste to the landfill while joining other communities in its commitment to environmental responsibility.

Bonnie Christie, co-chair of the Hopkinton Waste Reduction Committee, presented a proposal to the select board Monday, for a pilot program to explore a collaboration with Renewal Compost, the same pick-up service that Bow and New London use to reduce food waste.

Christie cited the more-established New London model, which has proven highly effective, and mentioned that Bow has just started to adopt the same approach.

“We probably never will get rid of all of our food waste, but we can certainly cut back and save a fair amount of money,” Christie explained.

While Bow’s pilot program encompasses all residents over a six-month period, the Hopkinton Waste Reduction Committee intends to involve a specific number of households, including individuals, families with children, and retirees, following a model similar to that of New London.

Under Renewal Garden’s program, there is a setup fee of $180 for one 64-gallon tote, and the town will also incur a monthly pickup fee of $144.

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Although select board members welcomed the idea of composting, concerns were raised during the meeting regarding the cost of the project.

Thomas Lipoma, a select board member, crunched some numbers and said that the program seemed more expensive than other options available.

He pointed out that certain farms, such as the Work Song Farm in town, accept food scraps free of charge, while Renewal Garden charges for food waste pickup. Moreover, the town does not receive any of the resulting compost for use.

“We’re not getting compost, we’re not getting money back,” said Lipoma. “It’s a better use of the waste which is good; it’s a benefit to the environment for sure. But it’s a more expensive way to get rid of the same thing.”

Another concern raised during the meeting was the regulation of waste collection.

Sabrina Dunlap, select board chair, expressed apprehension about the potential increase in workload for staff at the transfer station. She emphasized establishing effective regulations to ensure that people do not misuse the program by disposing of inappropriate items.

“I don’t want to create more work, obviously, for the staff there but I’m just a little worried about regulating the thing to make sure that people aren’t just dumping whatever they want in there,” Dunlap said.

While the project has not been turned down, the select board asked the solid waste reduction committee to conduct more research on the cost associated with the compost program and investigate how other towns have managed and budgeted for similar expenses.

The company has partnerships with municipalities around the state, including Londonderry, Goffstown, Hudson, Milford and Raymond, among others.

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