From food waste to garden gold: Prince George’s Co. expands household composting program

Celebrating the expansion of a food waste collection program in Prince George’s County: Landover Hills resident Mamie Small, County executive Angela Alsobrooks, county director of environment Andrea Crooms and Largo-area resident Betty Wise. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Starting next week, Prince George’s County, Maryland, residents will have more ways to get rid of food scraps and yard waste.

The county will expand its compost collection service starting Monday.

An additional 65,000 households can get curbside collection soon, with an expected 180,000 households total taking part by the end of December 2023.

At an event in Largo announcing the expansion, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks repeated a mantra the county uses to help residents remember what gets collected, and when.

“Every meal, every scrap, every Monday,” she said.

Andrea Crooms, director of the county’s Department of the Environment, explained that even compostable paper plates and utensils can be tossed into the mix.

“Now you can have that picnic on a Sunday, use all of these compostable items, toss them straight into your cart, and it’ll disappear on Monday!”

Alsobrooks said most of the waste generated from county households is made up of a combination of yard trim and food waste.

“In fact, right now, county residents are disposing of nearly 60,000 tons of food in the county landfill each year,” she said.

Dumping food waste in landfills, Alsobrooks said, generates methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Instead, food waste will be taken to the county’s organic composting facility, where it’s turned into LeafGro Gold, a product used in gardens and farms. Then it’s sold, offsetting the costs of the program.

Alsobrooks also made a direct connection to more environment-friendly efforts to deal with food waste and climate change.

“Climate change, I want you to know is, already here; it’s already on our doorstep,” said Alsobrooks. “In Prince George’s County, we are experiencing 100-year flooding every two years.”

She acknowledged the call from many citizens to get more frequent waste collection, but said, “this is not an issue that we will resolve by simply putting more trucks on the road to haul more trash to our landfills — in fact, it will only make things worse.”

Largo area resident Betty Wise spoke at Thursday’s event, and said “I’m very happy with the program, it works for me!”

Mamie Small, who lives in the Landover Hills area and has been active in a number of cleanup efforts through her civic association, said she is a fan of the program and looks forward to the expansion of the curbside pickups.

Small already works to make use of vegetable scraps, and said, “You should see my plants in my backyard.”

Residents who live in condos and apartment complexes, where trash is not handled by the county, are not part of the program, but Crooms said, “we’re working on some pilot programs with a few of our multi-family households. We’re also working with our schools — 11 schools are participating in the program.”

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.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up