Helena executives claim company curbside compost drives violate city code

HELENA – A new composting company is in conflict with the town of Helena, as town leaders argue that the company’s selective collections violate city code.

In March, Better Roots Composting, a subsidiary of Tri-County Disposal, began collecting food and garden waste from residential customers in the Helena Valley.

“We are trying to divert waste; we try not to waste, ”said director Chance Sparrow. “The county dump, the Valley View dump, there isn’t a lot of life. Honestly, collecting compost is more environmentally friendly than just burying it – it’s going to cost the same to collect it; why not put the material in a composting facility and provide compost, a topsoil amendment to our local community.

Each customer receives a 64 gallon collection bin. Sparrow collects the material every two weeks, then returns it to a compost pile at the Valley View landfill.

The pile is still quite small. Sparrow estimates it to be around 12 to 16 cubic meters of material. Better Roots currently has around 40 customers, of which around 15 are within the city limits of Helena.

These 15 clients are the point of friction with the city of Helena. Executives say city staff noticed the Better Roots trash cans on the street and started investigating.

Executives point to a 1988 ordinance that made the city the “sole provider of garbage and solid waste disposal services” to residential customers. They say that by collecting compost from city residents, Better Roots is violating the provision that “all private collection and operation of residential garbage and solid waste disposal services must cease and end.” .

Last week, the city met with Better Roots and asked them to stop their collections within city limits. Sparrow said he refused, arguing that since they plan to recycle the material and possibly offer compost for sale, their operation should not fall under ‘waste disposal’.

“The definition of disposal services is landfilled or transported to a facility where it is buried,” he said. “We don’t do that.”

The city did not accept this argument, claiming that any curbside garbage collection violates the code.

“The waste collection service, whether it is composting, recycling, solid waste – we believe this falls under the interpretation of the municipal decree, which states very clearly that all residential collection must pass through the city, “said Jake Garcin, head of public information. .

Garcin said the city attorney’s office plans to send Better Roots a cease-and-desist letter, possibly as early as Friday.

Sparrow said it didn’t make sense for the city to block their service when it didn’t choose to provide the curbside composting itself. Residents can bring the material to the transfer station to be composted, but there is no option for pickup yet.

“Essentially, these are private companies that see a need within the community and provide the service,” he said.

Garcin said the city has already had discussions about expanding compost collections.

“There have been plans to assess it in the coming year, and this conservation has accelerated that,” he said. “The municipal commission last week strongly requested that the staff find a solution to offer composting as quickly as possible, and our public works department is therefore working at the moment, trying to identify the best way forward to offer composting. , then implement it. movement.”

The city could choose to offer the service itself or enter into a contract with a private company. Garcin said that if they contract the services, they will have to go through a full formal tendering process. One company, Helena Recycling, is currently collecting curbside collections based on this type of contract with the city.

Sparrow said he believed several other companies were collecting residential waste without a contract. Garcin said the city will investigate the matter and may send additional cease and desist letters.

About Elaine Morales

Check Also

Auckland Central City Library basement fire

James Halpin / Stuff Fire crews attend to a fire at Auckland Central Library in …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.