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Bingen To Survey Residents For Interest In Compost Pickup

Bingen residents will find a survey in the mail with their next water bill inquiring whether or not compost curbside pickup is a desired service in the community.

The Bingen City Council approved the survey at the Oct. 1 meeting. Council-woman Sandi Dickey was not in attendance.

The survey follows a recent path taken by White Salmon, which sent a survey regarding compost pickup to 1,700 of its water customers and received 200 back. Dirt Hugger, a composting company out of The Dalles, has been collaborating with White Salmon on the matter and sent Pierce Louis, a founder, to speak with the Bingen Council.

“There is a demand and we just want to help meet that demand,” Louis said.

The survey will consist of questions inquiring about customers’ desire for curbside composting, pickup schedules, how much residents are willing to pay, and whether or not to include food scraps within the pickup of brush and yard debris.

The White Salmon survey indicated that 56 percent of those who participated indicated the desire for a curbside composting program and 42 percent said they would want it picked up every other week. Only 41 percent said they would want food scraps included.

“This is totally optional; it’s only for people that want it. It is an additional service, so there is an additional charge, and we found through the survey that there is a subset of people that want it enough and are willing to pay for it,” Louis said.

Louis said it is thanks to the interest in White Salmon that Dirt Hugger has started inquiring into whether or not the service would be profitable in Bingen.

A focus on composting yard debris in the fall was especially interesting to the Bingen Council, but the option for picking up food scraps as well will be on the upcoming survey.

“Brush is a big deal for us here. We would love to work hard on getting our brush picked up around here,” said Councilwoman Laura Mann.

Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes said she hopes providing a composting service will prevent accumulations of trash that doesn’t make it into sealed containers and liked the idea of yard debris not heading straight for the landfill, as it does during Bingen’s yearly fall cleanup.

She also expressed concern over potential licensing that Dirt Hugger might have to obtain to haul compost.

“The survey would be interesting, but we don’t have our own garbage service like White Salmon, so I’m not sure what you’ll need to do there. I do believe that you would have to be approved and licensed through the (Utilities and Transportation Commission),” Barnes said.

Louis added that in Oregon, where his business is used by residents and businesses, Dirt Hugger determines its prices by container size and is below tip fees for the Wasco County Landfill.

“We could price it below garbage so people would be incentivized environmentally and economically to want to do it,” he said. “We want to get the material out of the landfill in the first place. We hand the customers over to (garbage companies) and they do all the billing and interface with the customers but they still pay us a tip fee and our tip fee is below Wasco County Landfill’s, which is what allows it to be cheaper to the customer, but that’s harder over here.”

In White Salmon, the optional composting service will come at a $10 fee every other week through October and November and potentially longer if it is successful.

Bingen water customers will receive a survey with their next bill at the end of the month.

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