Pilot Findings

The goal of the pilot is to gain insight on the costs and benefits of a food waste diversion program and to determine if the Town of Natick should invest in the equipment and operational changes needed to offer this service to all households.

As such, the Town collects weekly data on tons collected and set out rates, and participating residents are asked to take frequent surveys to evaluate different aspects of the pilot. Below is a summary of high-level findings as of November 1, 2017.

Food Makes up a Large Portion of our Trash

Pilot members are throwing away approximately 8 lbs of food waste per household per week. This is equivalent to 30% of the average Natick household's trash (not including recycling).

78% of pilot members say the pilot has reduced the number of trash bags they set out each week and, by pricing the compostable bags at a lower per gallon cost than the Pay as You Throw alternative, 45% report that they are saving money through the program.

The Pilot Makes it Easy to Divert Food Waste

Almost 95% of participating households report the program is working "Great!" for their families and an average of 80% of pilot members set their bin out for collection each week. 

The Demand for Compost Services is Growing

In 2015, the Town of Natick conducted a survey to gauge residents' interest in food waste diversion and 1,000 residents said they would be interested in participating in a curbside composting pilot. Since launching the pilot, the DPW receives frequent requests to join and, in October 2017, the Town created an online form to collect names and addresses of interested residents. Within two weeks, more than 250 people signed up.

Natick is one of more than 20 municipalities that have received grants from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to divert food waste from trash at the curb or drop-off sites since 2013. In addition, a variety of private haulers now offer these services directly to residents.

Food is Expensive to "Throw Away"

Natick incinerates trash at a facility in Millbury, MA at a cost of approximately $66/ton. Alternatively, we are able to compost food waste in Needham for $0/ton.

If the Town was able to eliminate food waste from the trash it sends to Millbury for incineration, it could save approximately $125,000 in tipping fees.

However, Collection Costs are High & Creative Solutions are Needed

The pilot has been possible through grants and the use of existing DPW resources. 

We are currently in the process of evaluating trash and compost collection costs with the anticipation that adding a third collection system may exceed tip fee savings.

As such, the Town is proactively exploring alternatives, such as co-collection, seasonal collection schedules and regional sorting solutions. The goal is to identify a path forward that will save taxpayer money, while also supporting the program's environmental goals.

2015 Survey Findings