Curbside composting doesn’t have to invite unwanted furry friends

It just got a lot easier to turn food scraps into compost in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and a county official has tips for making sure residents aren’t just laying out snacks for crows, raccoons and other creatures.

The program, which started Monday, lets residents simply toss everything from banana peels to vegetable scraps, chicken bones, even fish and shellfish leftovers, right into the bright green 32-gallon bins, or into a 2-gallon kitchen pail first.

“I would package my materials,” Randolph Wilson, project manager at the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, told WTOP. He suggested using things such as compostable liners, heavy-duty brown leaf and lawn bags, or simple brown paper bags from the grocery store.

Wilson also suggested layering the food products with yard trim — leaves or grass clippings. That can help mask the obvious odor of food and make the contents of the bin less appealing to wildlife, or even neighborhood pets. Residents might also want to sprinkle some baking soda into the mix to reduce the odor and absorb some of the moisture from the contents of the bin.

Another tip: Between collections, wash out the inside of the container, and maybe put some lemon juice in the water that you use.

“Food scraps may not be placed next to the cart or loosely in a bag outside of the cart,” Wilson said, so keep that in mind as you get ready to put your food waste out for collection each Monday.

Wilson gets animated when talking about how the food waste can be turned into compost that can then be sold by the county as Leafgro GOLD, a “nutrient-rich soil amendment.”

He’s also a bit of a litterbug watchdog. He laughed as he told WTOP that he has “environmental OCD,” explaining that he can’t help himself when he sees people litter, or toss trash into a recycling bin, or recycling into the trash container — he’s likely to reach in and put the item in the correct container.

“Yes, people do look at me crazy from time to time,” Wilson said, but he added, “If we can reach out to one person to make that positive change to benefit the environment, that’s what we’re here to do.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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