Sandy Springs will apply for a $95,000 grant to start a pilot composting program designed to reduce solid waste.

Sustainability Manager Catherine Mercier-Baggett said Sept. 30 is the application deadline for the grant, which is being administered by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Recovered Materials Unit.

Grant awards will be made in January 2023 and the city would not have to provide matching funds.

“There is between 20 and 30% of all household waste that is actually organic materials that can be composted. So you can imagine that means we would be taking to the curb a lot less garbage,” she said.

The city’s program would have two different aspects. Three centralized collection sites would have bins where residents could drop off their organic materials, which a third party would empty.

Residents who want to participate in the pilot program if the grant is awarded will get a chance for one of the 1,000 composting bins designated for their use. (Denis MOREAU from Pixabay)

“For those who want to try to do this at home, we also would have about 1,000 bins that would be available for anyone who wants to try it in their backyard,” Mercier-Baggett said.

The grant application is being made with Dunwoody.

“We had a conversation and realize that they were looking at exactly the same thing that we are but at a smaller scale. So we’re partnering with them on the application,” she said.

The Master Gardeners of North Fulton and DeKalb County, Keep Beautiful organizations in North Fulton and DeKalb, and UGA Extension offices in the two counties will help educate the public on the program, she said.

The total grant request may change after conversations with Dunwoody, she said.

“After those two years, we would have to figure out first of all if we want to continue with this and also find a mechanism to keep it financially stable,” Mercier-Baggett said. “The quote that we received so far is $21,000 per year for three locations and that includes bringing back the compost to the community.”

“One of the concerns I would have at the drop-off locations is making sure that it’s picked up on a regular basis because it gets rather unsightly if it stacks up there,” Mayor Rusty Paul said.

He said many people do yardwork on the weekend and what they drop off may sit at the collection sites until the end of the week, which could cause problems.

Mercier-Baggett said she’s not certain that yard waste would be accepted because of the volume generated in the region. Food scraps and cardboard typically are accepted.

“The complaints I’ve heard about composting in the in the past is with food scraps and winding up with a lot of critters,” Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said.

He asked what is planned to solve that problem because nobody wants it in their backyard or area because of the “critters.”

The bins will be rolling carts that will close. The program has budgeted funds for some kind of enclosure or fencing for the collection site bins, Mercier-Baggett said.

“The company that we talked to has not had any issues with that because they are collecting twice a week,” Mercier-Baggett said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.