Recycling and waste control has evolved and changed over the years on Nantucket. The Department of Public Works, working together with Waste Options Nantucket, the Town’s Health Department, and the island’s waste haulers, creates an organization on Nantucket that provides and supports waste production programs in addition to continually assessing and improving our solid waste and recycling operations. They have organized three main waste streams on the island: recyclable waste, compostable waste, and non-recyclable/non-compostable waste.
Recently, the Department of Public Works has introduced a new waste stream designed specifically for compostable waste such as food scraps and paper. This new system’s goal is to “extend the life of the landfill cell and to reduce the level of contamination in the composter compost in order to provide a better quality product to the community”, says the islands recycling and solid waste coordinator, Graeme Durovich. The way this new waste stream works is by collecting food scraps as well as other compostable waste and sending it through a large industrial composter. This turns leftover food into nutrient-rich soil that can be reused in gardens. This new system will come with many benefits, one of the biggest and most notable being the increase in the life expectancy of landfills on Nantucket.
This January, another lined landfill cell became operational, but due to the island’s current waste production and contaminated compostable stream rates, it was predicted to last only ten years. These new changes to the compostable waste system will hopefully help to increase the life expectancy of the landfills on Nantucket and therefore reduce the number of landfills that will need to be built in the future.
By Sydney Ryder